A Bartender Wouldn't Serve Woman With Neuromuscular Disorder — "He Didn't Care to Understand"

Melissa Willets - Author

Dec. 8 2023, Published 12:58 p.m. ET

A woman who feels "insecure and misunderstood" about her health condition is bravely sharing her story.

As the TikTok creator explains, she suffers from a rare neuromuscular disease called Friedreich’s ataxia.

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The creator, who shared content using the handle @kiersten.riggs, goes on to say that her condition makes her uncoordinated. As a result, she is insecure to go out in public because as she explains, "I wonder if people notice."

A recent visit to the historic town of Charleston, S.C., left Kiersten Riggs in near tears because a bartender definitely noticed — and refused to serve her.

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A bartender didn't serve this woman after watching her walk to the bathroom.

According to Johns Hopkins, Friedreich’s ataxia is indeed a rare disease that is also inherited and, sadly, degenerative. The disease affects the spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the brain. As a result, people with the condition exhibit awkward movements due to a loss of sensation.

As Kiersten shares in her TikTok, while sightseeing in Charleston, she stopped in a pub to take a rest after a lot of walking. Then the creator, who was completely sober, got up to go to the restroom. When she got back to her seat at the bar, she attempted to order a beverage.

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"Yeah, I'm not going to serve you," the bartender informed her, claiming to have watched her stumble back from the bathroom with the help of her boyfriend.

The woman took a deep breath and explained the situation to him. But the bartender just shook his head, despite the denied customer saying she had her medical diagnosis from her doctor on her phone.

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"He is refusing to serve me," she says in the video, growing emotional.

In the past, she reports that when a bartender has not wanted to serve her, she simply explains everything and ends up getting an apology. But not this time.

"I never felt so misunderstood."

This courageous woman wants to turn her negative experience into a positive for others.

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"There are so many people who have insecurities or diseases or and disabilities [who are] really scared to go out in public because they don't want things to happen like that," Kiersten laments about the discrimination she experienced at the pub.

"This is for anyone who has a disability or an insecurity. Don't be scared to share your story," she says. Kiersten ends her TikTok by encouragingly adding, "Because it's going to bring awareness. It's going to help people understand."

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She acknowledges that not everyone will understand — like the bartender who made her feel small.

Commenters piled into the post to support Kiersten and share similar stories. However, many wondered why she didn't speak to a manager to try and get the situation rectified.

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Others said she should drop the name of the bar so people can flood its Yelp with negative reviews. But it doesn't seem that she is looking to blow up anyone's life or livelihood.

Instead, it's pretty clear that Kiersten just wants understanding, and to be treated like everyone else. She's also looking for connection, and sweetly offers to talk and be there for others who open up about their struggles because she shared hers.

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