01 June 2008

Breakfast, with Insult on the Side

Today the Mrs. and I went to have breakfast at the Ball Square Cafe, where SoundBites used to be before moving next door. If I understand the story correctly, the newer place was opened by a guy who used to be a cook at SoundBites. We've been there twice now, and we like the food.

Today, though, I had a weird encounter with the owner. I was pouring cream into my coffee, and I was bent over looking at it closely in order not to spill it. The owner walked by behind me and said, "Looks like you're analyzing it. What are you, a scientist or something?"

Those of you who know me, and those of you who have been reading for a while, know that I have poor vision, and that I often have to get up close to things to see what I'm doing. Also, I'm a bit touchy about it, having endured people's ignorant comments all my life. As I went back to my seat, I stopped and said to the owner, "I happen to be legally blind, which is why I was bent over so close to the cup, so I don't appreciate your comment."

First he apologized, which was fine. But then he kept talking, which in such a situation is usually the wrong choice. He first tried to minimize the offense by saying that he was just kidding around, and anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt. Then, because I was ignoring him, he kept going, and tried to turn it back on me, basically saying that it was my fault for being so sensitive about it.

The Mrs. asked me if I wanted to leave, and I said no. I was hungry, and I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of walking out in a huff. I was going to sit there and eat, and hopefully continue to make him uncomfortable about what he'd said.

I don't know what comes over people sometimes. It's one thing to see a situation and think such a comment to yourself, but to say it out loud, in a public place, is a whole other level of rudeness and ignorance. The lack of basic human respect just blows my mind. And I would have been just as upset if I had seen it happen to someone else. There's simply no excuse for that sort of behavior.


Anonymous said...

Maybe he was just joking around and trying to be lighthearted. Did he know you were legally blind before you told him? You really need to get over yourself and stop being so sensitive. People like you who throw hissyfits over little stuff like this are the reason that people are afraid to chit chat with strangers out of fear of offending them.

DP said...

Lord, you are a touchy fellow. Rather than disarm the man with a funny comment, or just making it known that you do have sight problems, you end your sidebar with him saying you didn't appreciate his comment. He apologizes, because clearly he meant no harm. You ignore the guy rather than saying something like "don't worry about it", or "no big deal," which makes your behavior quite rude as well. If someone apologizes and you then give him the cold shoulder, you can't expect roses in return

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like he was trying to insult you. He was just trying to crack a joke and you took offense.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you're overreacting. Have some human decency and forgive him.

Fiddler said...

I'm willing to bet that none of the previous commenters have a disability of any sort, especially one that's not readily apparent, or they would be well aware that dealing with this sort of unintentional rudeness on a daily basis makes one truly aware of how most people just don't think before teasing strangers and then get really defensive when their rudeness is pointed out.

I have blind friends who use guide dogs who are sick to death of people coming up and talking to their dog, petting their dog, generally distracting their dog. Then they get told they're overreacting when they kindly tell people to leave the dog alone, since the dog is working. This animal is keeping this person from walking into traffic; why do you need to pet it, especially when it's wearing a giant orange sign that says "DON"T PET ME"?

I have other friends with mobility problems that aren't immediately apparent. They have all been told they're overreacting when the elevators/escalators in the T aren't working, why can't they just use the stairs, since they're not using wheelchairs? Uh, because using stairs freakin' hurts and/or is dangerous due to balance difficulties and will leave them in far more pain later?

It's very easy for those without disabilities to tell those with them that they're overreacting. I apologize for taking up so much comment space, but since two of these commenters don't seem to have the cojones to leave a way to respond directly to them, I felt I had to.

Anonymous said...

It was the ghost of breakfasts past saying: STICK WITH SOUNDBITES!

Doodle Bean said...

Wow. Since when is being asked if you are a scientist an insult?

Now if he had said something like, "What's the matter with youz?!?! Youz blind as a bat or sumthin'?!?!?", then you would have cause to take offense.

But he didn't. He asked if you were a scientist.

Nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

I hate that jokey/"I-resent-you-actually" banter I get every once in awhile from guys like that. You did the right thing. Why should he get away with phony jokiness when Its obvious he was actually trying to convey some kind of half-baked class resentment?

steve said...

You have a legit complaint against people's initial ignorance, BUT...
BE THE BETTER PERSON! When you encounter people you assume to be ignorant, stop and realize ignorance is a mental disability (one's lacking understanding).

Does it not make you the worse person if your response to what may have been an innocent question is intentionally vicious? How can you possibly know a person's intention if you do not know that person? If someone genuinely apologizes, accept it.

You seem to take issue with ignorant people. Maybe it's because you LACK UNDERSTANDING when it comes to those people.

Yet, because you have a recognizable physical disability, you think you should be excused from basic societal rules you are totally capable of following.

BE THE BETTER PERSON. It'll make the world a better place.

Anonymous said...

This is the Mrs. While sometimes my lovely overreacts, this was not one of those times. Mostly because the owner, let me stress, owner of the business, didn't leave it with just the apology. If a business owner doesn't know how to treat customers, he doesn't need them. That was our last meal there as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

The first few comments are idiotic. You were a paying customer and the owner insulted you. His apology was the minimal acceptable response. A complimentary drink would have been better.

He's free to act how he likes, but his joke was stupid, not funny, and ill-advised even if you did not have any impairment. Who goes around insulting customers? He should have just apologized and left it at that.

While I agree in part with molly, I don't think a disability should be a prerequisite for humility or politeness. I'm also amused by #3's invocation of 'decency' as the quality you, and not the owner, showed a lack of.

kevin said...

Hold on for a second everyone, I'm a scientist. Since when did calling someone a scientist become an insult? Seriously, how can that even be twisted into an insult? There is no way, you people are grasping at straws.

Since when is a business owner making a light hearted comment to a patron considered rude? Most jokes between strangers aren't found to be funny, that doesn't mean you should make someone feel bad for trying to be social.

...and giving him the cold shoulder after he apologized!?! Maybe you should stay home for breakfast next time, you clearly don't know how to interact with society.

Unknown said...

Hey, the OWNER should have backed off after apologizing. Stopped it right there, instead of looking for some sort of affirmation from his paying customer. Remember the saying, "The customer is always right"? A customer should not have to make the owner feel better for making an insensitive comment. All of you able-bodied people who are telling Assembly man to stay home or to be "civil" or "nice" should gag on their Denny's pancakes.

Anonymous said...

is this a joke ??

I think the movie adaptation would go something like this :

(after the owner says his bit and it's quiet at the table)

Woman : honey, do you want to go ?
Man: No.....I'm a big boy...I can handle it.
Woman : but...he....ask you if you were a SCIENTIST!!
Woman: honey, please keep your voice down.....
Woman: I'll be in the car.......

.......some people man...geeze.....I don't have the best vision ever either and if that happened to me, I wouldn't think twice about it and if I did, I would probably laugh.....it must be tough being that sensitive.