I am a huge fan of the Wetherspoon chain, and was delighted to have my marriage commemorated in your Autumn magazine ('Wed-Erspoon - Pub Saves Mark and Miri's Nuptials', p59).
So it is with regret that I must write to you now regarding a less than salutary experience in a recent branch, The Shay Wake, in Shaw, Oldham.
As evidenced by my photo in the recent Wetherspoon magazine, I am rather fond of hats. I wear them frequently, and have visited Wetherspoon pubs on many occasions wearing a wide variety of headwear.
So imagine my shock when, having a quiet Monday evening drink with my husband in our local Wetherspoon (16/09/19), I was abruptly approached by a member of staff, and instructed to remove my hat.
I was extremely taken aback, having never seen any evidence that this or any other Wetherspoon had a dress code, and I intimated this to the staff member. He replied that it wasn't a dress code, but 'something we ask people to do', so their faces were more visible on the CCTV.
So not only was I being accosted by a stranger demanding I remove items of clothing, I was now being suspected of potential criminal activity!
I informed the staff member that under no circumstances was I removing my hat, and that I found the request completely unreasonable. If Wetherspoon has a no hats policy, then that should be made clear to hat-wearing patrons before they enter and spend their hard-earned money. The staff member admitted it was not Wetherspoon policy, but that he still wanted me to take my hat off.
I repeated more firmly that I wasn't removing it, at which point the member of staff said he wasn't going to argue with me, and walked off. Left feeling shaken and very uncomfortable, we quickly finished our drinks and left. What was meant to be a quiet and relaxing drink after work turned into a deeply uncomfortable and confrontational situation. Clearly, this is not why people go to pubs!
I was and remain completely shocked to have had this experience in a Wetherspoon. Style of dress is a very personal choice which - if an establishment has no dress code - should not ever be commented on by an establishment's staff - let alone should they be demanding patrons adapt or remove items of their attire.
Further, while I choose to wear hats simply because I like them - which is a more than valid enough reason - some wear them for more sensitive reasons, such as self-consciousness over hair loss, which can be caused by anything from stress to cancer treatment. Further, some people choose to cover their hair for religious or cultural reasons. The member of staff had no idea why I was wearing a hat, nor what kind of distress it might have caused me to remove it. To demand people remove their hats is not only a huge overreach of the authority pub staff have, it could also potentially cause enormous embarrassment and distress.
As it stands, I do not feel comfortable visiting any Wetherspoon pub, until I am absolutely assured no member of staff will be making inappropriate comments on my personal appearance, nor trying to misuse their authority to make me alter it. Incidentally, I counted at least five other people in the pub wearing a hat, including a Wetherspoon chef!
(I received no reply.)