Customer Service Means Equal Respect For All--I Was Discriminated Against Again At A Local Chain Restaurant Tonight!!
by Melissa Fields on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2:53am
It is now 2011!!!! This needs to stop already!!!!! The bullying and mistreatment of children and adults who have special needs is a very real--and serious issue--and it is still happening!!!!! It happened to me again tonight in a local restaurant that is part of a national chain of health-conscious places to eat. All i wanted was to eat something that was healthy and fresh for a change---and my efforts only caused me more in the way of uneeded heartache for myself.
This is going to be a long post, but this all needs to be said and addressed, so, please take the time to read it---because these people who are being mean---they do not realize the very real harm they are causing us when they treat us this way. I have just as much right to eat at that place as anyone else---and to be made to feel as welcomed and comfortable. But----this didn;t happen for me tonight--and you know, after all was said and done, i left that establishment feeling so demoralized and disempowered that i was actually feleling like driving my car off the nearest cliff. I wanted to just melt straight into the seat of my car and die, because of the way i was treated by the manager of that place.
The past few weeks i have been having alot more frequent stomache upsets than i normally do. Since i have alot of sensory issues/obsessions about preparing and cooking my own meals, i either eat entrees that can easily be popped in my microwave and heated, or i make simple sandwiches, and i also keep a large stock of the larger plastic drinking cups, Chinet heavy duty paper platters, and plastic silverware on hand, so i don't have to bother with washing dishes....as i also have a sensory issue when it comes to washing dishes...like, did i clean and disinfect the germs off of them enough? When i don't eat these things at home, i eat out, in order to get the things, such as beef, chicken, steamed cooked vegetables, baked potatoes, enchiladas, and other foods that i oftentimes crave....but can't have, because i cannot cook these thngs for myself. By the way, before i go on, for all of my new friends who do not yet know...i am a middle aged autistic adult....someone who is today, suffering on so many levels because i have never been able to get the help, treatments, interventions, services and supports so i could be able to grow up to have a real chance at being able to lead a normal productive life as an adult.
It is this way for most if us adults who are on the spectrum. It's this way for me.
I am also a real people person, too. In fact, i am overly friendly, and i actually just love, love, LOVE to be around and talk to/hang out with others when they are nice, friendly, kind, and accepting of me. And that is the other reason why i often eat out. For the social contact and rapport that i have with many of the servers, cooks, and managers of these restaurants. If i like a place...i keep going back to it. But....that's where the problems begin to manifest themselves, because, invariably, as these people continue to see me, and get to know me, they, for some strange reason, seem to begin to soon grow tired of me always having to have things a certain way...my food, my money, and the way i am talked to. Or else---i end up having meltdowns in their restaurant, either because someone was not friendly to me, or they are out of the iced tea and i have to resort back to drinking Pepsi or Coke, which i don't want to drink all the time, because i think Pepsi and Coke make my legs more swollen and sore. Or if there is no ice in the machine. Other things that can make me meltdown in a restaurant are when other kids or teenagers start staring at me and giggling and making fun of me. I am extremely fine-tuned to peoples body language, their tones of voice, eyes, mouths, and the way their countenances are....to the point of being hypersensitive. For some reason---i have always been the most hypersensitive in these areas. Now, when i say i meltdown in public...i don't mean that i meltdown where i am screaming and bawling. When i get upset in a public place.....my reactions will range from being rude, abrupt and outspoken to the offending party(ies), only because i get in real anxiety modes when there is no iced tea or ice, or my food is all wrong....or i will stand there in front of the drink/ice machine and huff and puff loudly, and let out swear words under my breath, shaking my heaed repeatedly, while i wait for someone to make new iced tea, or replenish the ice....again, it is not that i am being a spoiled brat...it is because of the mode of anxiety i go into when these things happen. I like to think that i am a nice person----and, believe me, i do try to be nice and polite to people whenever possible--because that is how my parents and grandparents raised me to be. And----because----i like to be nice and friendly to everyone!!!! In fact, another real pet peeve of mine that really gets under my skin, is when i hold open the door for someone and they pass through, and look at me, and they don't smile at me---and they don't say "Thank you," to me!! I will often react by saying loud enough so they can be sure to hear----"Ummm...you're WELCOME!!" Or, and here's a good one!! Alot of times when i go to the post office to check my P. O. box, it is sometimes a real nightmare just to get a decent parking spot. But, when i go back out to my car, start it back up, put it into reverse, and start to back out...invariably, someone--and then, several someones decide to all invade the parking lot behind me, and they will NOT let me out---even though i have my reverse lights on, and am creeping out, ever so slowly...inch by inch....then, i roar like a lion, i am so mad. Again, not because i am trying to be mean...but because there is a point where i just can't stay patient anymore, because my senses overload..and then---WHAM!! I am at my worst when i am at the post office, because it is often too crowded. Our city is growing too large now, to just continue to make-do with the one big post office we have....they needed to build a second one yesterday, darnit!!!!!!! But--my meltdowns can sometimes consist of yelling at people too...but that is usually out in the open air....not in a restaurant, that i do my yelling. In side buildings, i do try to contian it to a reasonable level. I do get kind of loud, if i get angry enough though, and there was one place where things actually DID escalate into me screaming hysterically----but that was back in 1997, at a buffet restaurant where there were several teenage employees who ganged up on me to make my visits there a living hell....and one day, things got so bad, that i left out of there screaming hysterically, got in my car, came home and threw my whole meal up in the kitcxhen sink. I have never been back to that particular establishment.
Anyway, now to get to why i am writing this note: earlier tonight, i decided to eat at a national chain restaurant that specializes in delicious, but very healthy breads, salads, soups, fruit, awesome sandwiches, pastries, and cookies. This place is one of my favorite places to eat, as they have always been very patient, kind, nice and accomodating of my sensory issues. I sometimes like to take a good book there to read while i eat.....and...they have wi-fi there too...so if i had a laptop, i could also surf the internet if i wanted to, while i eat. It is a very nice place to relax. However, again, a couple of their managers lost their patience of me, when i began to complain and take up too much of their times with wanting to talk. One lady, in partcular, started to become really really LOUD with me...always shouting-down at me, instead of talking TO me in a normal tone of voice--if you know what i mean. Well, I didn't like it. People who do that, do that because they want you to be and stay beneath them. They do it to try to get rid of you. They do it because they want you out of their hair, so to speak. So---- I grew to not like that particular lady anymore, and i began to go in when she wasn't there, to avoid her.
Well...tonight, i went there, because i just had to have a sandwich with turkey, bacon, melted cheddar cheese,a cup of theri broccoli cheese soup, and a fresh fruit bowl. Well, comt to find out, that lady was there---plus, there were two new cooks in the back, who both had very unfriendly attitudes. The two girls in front were really nice...but gone were all of my other friends---and in back were these two new "thugs" , who wouldn't smile or say hi to me, like the other cooks always did. Even so, i still wanted to eat there...because my mouth was really, really, really watering for fresh fruit and soup and a sandwich.
So i ordered. On my way back, i tried my best to make freinds with the two new cooks---but they only got a tiny bit more nice----so----i knew these guys were going to be a problem. I got my iced tea and fruit punch mix, and sat down. Pretty soon, my food came. One of the new cooks brought it to me, but he remained cold and unfriendly. Even so, I dug into my broccoli soup, then took a bite of one of the apple slices, then ate some of the mixed fruit. Then, when i got to my sandwich---i went to pick it up-----and-----looked-----and felt the bacon----and----found the bacon----to be----as cold as ice!!!!!!! THIS was WRONG!!!!!!! Up i got, and i marched straight over to the back counter where the one new cook was, and i told him to please make me a new sandwich, that i had ordered it as a grilled melt...and that the bacon needed to be cooked. And, no, i was not nice about it, because by this time, i was angry.
I went back and went on eatting my mixed fruit, soup, and apple. my sandwich still was in the process of being made..i would have really liked to be able to have it there to eat with my other food....but i waited and waited. I finally caught one of the floor girls, and asked her to get the anager. When the manager came, it was that lady who hated me from before, and again, she she didn't talk to me...she began shouting down at me, with her hands on her hips, and a large clipboard in one hand, as she peered down at me in a very condescening but forced friendly manner......."Well, hello, Missy, what seems to be the trouble?" in a voice so loud and sarcastic that i was embarrassed. It was obvious she did not want to deal with me anymore than she had to, by the way she kept arching her eyebrows, and acting like she was eager to to walk away.she took my receipt, so she could make sure my sandwich could be done to my specs. But by the time my sandwich did come, i had already finsihed my soup, and fruit. That alone, ruined my meal. But i felt, on top of that, like my face had just been hit by a ton of shaved ice by the way the mean manager was shouting down at me her high perch.
She brought me my sandwich...still shouting down to me, to tell me she'd be back to see how i liked the new sandwich. I wish i could make a video of the way she was shout-talking at me......it would totally describe what it was like....thast this lady was being abusive to me. I was so upset that i could feel all the muscles in my face contort nto one of my famous looks of distress that i get when i'm upset so deep down inside, but can't meltdown.
Through all of this....i remained calm----i never once raised my voice---she did all the shout-talking down to me. I asked to have her come back to my table to remind her that i am autistic and that her yelling was not appropriate. Though she now lowered her voice, she still belittled me, saying that i just had to get used to it, it is the way she talkes. I knew that was bull. I asked her where Lindsay and all the others were---and she said they were all in the new store up in San Luis Obispo--that i was stuck woith her now, and the new workers..and that i'd just have to get used to them now. Then, when she went back behind her counter---i could actually hear her complain to one of the other girls: "Oh yea, and she was also saying i was yelling at her!!" OKAY!!!! THAT was IT for ME!!!!! I didn't like being continued to be talked at and down to like this---and THEN when i overheard her complaining about me not liking her loud yelling.....so....when i finally finished my last delicious but ruined juicy red seedless grapes.....i went to refill my tea...and i went and while the lady was in the back, i asked the other girl if she had indeed made remarks about me...she said yes...so....i had the lady called back out...and i requested to have my money refunded.
Yes, i did have my entire meal refunded. But....this was yet anither case of downright discrimination of a disabled person, all because this manager felt she could get away with it----and all the more reason why we have to get the message out there that this knd of crud cannot, and should not, be tolerated any longer.
Please feel free to comment and share this on your walls. If anyone of you want to know the name of the establishment where this incident occured, you can private message me, and i will tell you. I feel that this lady should be fired, or at least that she should work in a department or job where she does not have to deal with the public, because dealing with the public means just that: you have to learn to deal with everyone who comes into your establishment with equal respect and dignity--and if someone is a person who has special needs, you need to have the training to be able to accomodate that person's needs. All it takes is for people to have love, acceptance, and patience for all people. If a person doesn't have that, than they need to look for work elsewhere.
Thank you and God bless!!!! <3<3<3<3