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Monday, August 8, 2016

Addendum: Bad Versus Good

Tomorrow the forecast predicts temperatures in the 90s. I desperately need paper for my printer so I took a very slow walk to downtown. As I got to the edge of the city some tough looking teenagers decided I was an easy target. They openly mocked me and my pushing motion as I was going by. Not content with this they started calling me "retard" and asking if I could speak or do math. One guy yelled "hey retard what is 2 plus 2". Apparently this was hysterically funny. I was not impressed and gave them a middle finger salute. Then things got worse.

I wanted to treat myself to a hot dog at Liehs & Steigerwald and maybe buy a half a pound of bacon. Since I moved to Franklin Square I have become a regular customer. I love all the sausage they sell. The sandwiches are nothing short of awesome. I buy their bacon too as I can no longer eat the fat supermarkets sell called bacon. Suffice it to say I love their food. Today, however I had a run in with an employee. This is not the first time the woman has been nasty to me. In the past she had put an illogical sign outside as some sort of joke. It was not funny. I was not impressed nor was my son and another friend. We said something, our words were not appreciated. We were seriously annoyed. After we ate I told her we did not order beer because of the sign and her attitude. She did not care and got snippy as in major attitude. I had a subsequent run in with her. Needless to say she will not win employee of the year award. Today however she got particularly nasty. As I went to enter she stood in my way and stated "I will hold the door for you".  I replied "I don't need help". Things went south fast. She was angry and annoyed. She had a serious attitude. In her estimation I was your archetypical bitter cripple angry at the world. She let me know this. "Gee, all I was trying to do was help". She made this remark in a tone that was clear she was exasperated. Other employees looked up. Her body posture was one of a waiter dealing with an impossible customer. We exchanged a few words. She went from fake nice to nasty in seconds.

My crime: I was not the dutiful meek cripple she created in her head. I was not the charity case she imagined. I was all too real and not pleased about being demeaned. I refused to meet her expectations and pushed back and against the charity model of disability. I was the less fortunate human being. In seconds I went from being the good cripple to a very bad cripple. I said so too. "You are snotty and rude". This resulted in louder huffing and hawing. At this point I am angry. "Great, now you have lost my business." I said this loud enough for others to hear. I spun on a dime and walked out of the shop.

My dilemma is how bad should I be? Given this is my third run in with this employee, I think the owners should know. More to the point, I want to eat more sausage, sandwiches and drink their beer. However I will not be harassed and demeaned. If I complain to the owners who know me by sight I think there is a chance she might get fired. I must confess this would not bother me. The employee is an unpleasant person and in my book three run ins is more than enough. The kind part of my soul thinks a little education is needed. I am not the guy to do this nor should I be forced into that position.

As I wrote earlier today, the dichotomy between the good cripple and the bad cripple can switch on a dime. What is never possible is the ordinary. I am a middle aged white man, an ordinary man, who just wanted to have a hot dog and a coke in the middle of the afternoon. Instead, I become the flag bearer for the bad cripple. I can live with this. Young cripples, fear not. Go ahead and be bad. Tomorrow I will be badder than bad. I am going to put my bad cripple hat on and talk to the owner. No one comes between me and my sausage.


Unknown said...

I hope the owners took action after you spoke to them!

ParaTir Quebec said...

Will, you have an amazing blog.

In this situation though, I think you went off the rails.

First, you absolutely deserve to use that restaurant. And you deserve respect. But you can't go storming out of places, because when you do you lose both. Think about it: you can't easily go back, and at the time, you look (to the regular crowd) ridiculous by default.

(actually you CAN go back. you can do anything. just act normal as though nothing happened. And look sort of surprised in a "so what" kind of way if she alludes to it. most destabilizing thing you could do to her.)

I try to do these things over the long haul. Lay down the terms. You are a client (right away the fact that you pay and give tips puts you on a superior plane). Second, you are the gimp who is autonomous enough to show up regularly in their place of business. You are a regular. You are different. You are a Star. That puts you on the same social plane as The Owner, whom you speak to with familiar ease as an equal. All of this adds up to you holding all of the high cards.

The servants (that is what she is, Will) should (and do) understand all of this. As soon as they realize that you ARE autonomous (and not just a vegetable wheeled around by your entourage, because you speak to them directly, order your own food and pay your own bills) they also realize that whatever unpleasantness exists with you, will be an ongoing thing they can ill afford, and which THEY cannot change, because YOU can always turn up whenever you want. Therefore, they will try to curry your favor. Yes they might snap at first, but they must always make it up. Or at least put up with you.

I actually think that when she held you the door, she was trying to make peace. In that situation I would reply as follows...

Her: I'll hold the door.

You: (with superior hurried recognition of her existence): Sure, why not ?

The only one you would really have to fight with is the owner. And even he would be quick to paper over the differences.

This method is not ideologically sound. But it sure works.

feel the love,

Gordon from Montreal

P.S. Once again: terrific blog. terrific texts. terrific insights. Hail fellow, well met !