"Will a menu be necessary?"

Carnick, I am not in any way attempting to be insulting, and I hope you will take this comment purely as insight into what the waitress might have been thinking, not as any sort of personal slam. But as I recall, many MD sufferers look not merely physically handicapped but somewhat like the severely mentally disabled – in terms of purely physical appearance. I don’t know you personally, and I have no idea what you look like physically, or how extensive your disability is, beyond what little you’ve shared in this thread. With immense respect for who you are, your obvious mental capacity and what it must take to deal with the world as a MD sufferer, it’s possible the waitress might have mistaken you for a mentally-and-physically handicapped young person out for the day with family. She still didn’t handle it appropriately – at minimum, address your parents with “Will you be ordering for your daughter, or will she order for herself?” or something of the sort, is the bare minimum courtesy I’d expect. But I can grasp the idea that she might have mistaken you for someone who was mentally incapable of ordering – and I say that, purely as a possible explanation for offensive behavior, with no intent to myself be offensive to you.

Beyond that hopefully-not-insulting guess as to what was going thru her mind, though, I agree that it was a truly offensive thing for her to have done.

Well in retrospect, of course. However, it was my parents anniversery and I didn’t want to sully the occassion with a scene. It was already embaressing enough. I didn’t get the lady’s name so I can’t write a punishing letter, not that I’d want to. I just politely ordered my meal just like anyone else, and that’s probably lesson enough.

I’ve lived as a disabled person all my life, I’m well aware of how “retarded” I look to others. However, there’s no such thing as “looking mentally disabled in terms of physical appearence.” It’s all based on phobia and ignorance. What does a mentally challenged person supposed to look like anyway? As others have noted, it happens to blind, deaf, and otherwise normal looking people. To many, different = retarded.

And yes, I realize the irony of talking about mental disabilities while making stupid grammatical mistakes. Always proofread before you post dummy :smack:

You eat at this place several times per month and they treat you like that? Was this person new? Maybe it’s time to take your business elsewhere…

When I go into a restaurant with kaylasmom and the wait-person attempts to talk as though she can’t hear/understand adult conversation, I always want to pretend that I’m signing into her hand so they’ll think I’m deaf-mute.

kaylasmom won’t let me, though, so I don’t. :frowning:

Speaking only for myself, I think I would have taken the opportunity to behave like I always want to and start drooling, screaming, and throwing food around. I mean, why not live up to the assumption?

Still wrong in my book. I would simply address any questions to Carnick and trust the dining companions to smooth out the bumps.

“Would you like to see the menu?”

If Carnick can’t communicate someone in the party can take care of it from there:

“That’s OK we’ll share mine,” or something.

Perhaps Carnick should take a leaf from the book of Steady Eddy, the Australian stand up comic who suffers from cerebral palsy:

“Why do people stare at me whenever I board a plane? Is it the way that I walk? Is it the way that I talk? Or is it the pilot’s uniform that I wear?”

I used to drive one of the handicapped equipped vehicles at my local University. In retrospect, it was really stupid of them to just give us a different van and show us how to use the wheelchair elevator without any training whatsoever in regards to helping handicapped people. I went from taking student to their dorms, right to picking up handicapped people and delivering them wherever they wanted with as much additional training as I stated previously.

I met some really cool people, made some friends, and learned a lot about the daily lives of the people I assisted. I used to take this really cool blind guy to a bar, and pick him up when he was done. You could almost see the :rolleyes: on his guide dog’s face when he’d had a few too many. We were talking once about something artsy and I asked if he had read any Vonnegut :smack:. He said with out the least bit of annoyance “I don’t think they have any of his stuff on audio at the library”. I felt like a complete ass. He was really cool about it though.

One time I was taking Aaron home from work at the usual time, I think he had muscular dystrophy, I’m probably wrong though. I didn’t ask, people told me if it were important for me to know. Anyways, we were talking about new music (he worked at a really cool 3-story record store) and he stopped talking in mid sentence.

I was driving, and we were in a very dark area, so when I looked back all I could see was the silhouette of his wheelchair. I heard a strange noise and pulled over right away. I got in the back and saw that his head had somehow fallen forward and away from the padded guards around the headrest of his chair. He was struggling to breathe, and trying to tell me how to help. I gently raised his head towards the headrest. I had no idea whether or not I might be doing something that might snap his neck. I was scared shitless.

He was fine afterward. He said “You know you literally saved my life just then.” I said it was all part of the job and that I’d never let anything happen to any of the people in my care. I have never tried so hard to not cry in my life, but I did it. One of my friends almost died in the back of my van! That was rough.

Now, some might be saying to themselves “Gee, thanks **dnooman[/] for sharing, but what the fuck does this have to do with this Pit thread?”

Well, once I had a run to pick up two guys in wheelchairs. They wanted to go to a hotel that was maybe a quarter of a mile away. No problem.

These guys had some seriously high-tech wheelchairs, both electronic, both had various monitors and such on them. One had an acrylic box on it that collected mucosal drainage. Both guys had really distant looks in their eyes, but I treated them as I would any other person. I said “Hey guys. What’s up?”

The first guy’s mother was with him. She said in a very stern tone “He doesn’t speak!” I apologized, and asked what I could do to help. She then barked orders at me for everything from operating the wheelchair lift, securing the chairs, every aspect of how I was driving (1/4 mile distance) and of course the whole offloading process. She was mean the whole time. She basically implied that I was an asshole for even trying to talk to her son. I feel sorry for the guy. He has a physical disability, and has to listen to his Mom berate those that try their best to help him.

The waitress mentioned in the OP was at worst ignorant. She should be coached to be able to better deal with similar situations. The idea that she was trying to be malicious, or needs to be fired are just plain stupid. She needs to be educated. According to the OP, all she said was “Will a menu be necessary?” That’s enough to cost her her job? She was being diplomatic in an ignorant manner. Servers have committed far, far worse offenses and still retained their jobs.

The OP should have said something like “Yes, I’d like a menu”. The server would have realized the error of her supposition, possibly apologized, and all would be well. Well, maybe the OP would still be upset.

What should the public do? Ignore any and all physical or visual cues in regards to disability? Assume the worst? Talk to their companions only? Ask the person in question “what illness do you have?” No. These are all inappropriate.

There is no acceptable rule, nor can there be, for dealing with disabled people of unknown type. Nor is there any real approved, widely known, method of treating people of known disability. “Known disability” might also imply that people would make visual determinations about the condition of the people they need to interact with.

In short, it’s a crapshoot. One can offer a Braille menu to a guy with a white cane and red tip, and get “I’m just visually impaired! I can’t even read Braille!”

Or, he can ask what the guy wants and get “Didn’t you see the cane? I’m blind. Get me a Braille menu please.”

There is no “one way” to treat individuals with disabilities, except for treating them with respect. Unfortunately, being respectful results in people acting like assholes at times.

The actions of the waitress in the OP is not worthy of her losing her job. A pitting, perhaps, a cautionary example, certainly.

Menus serve two purposes-- first, they provide a written list of items and prices from which one can decide what to order, and then either tell the waitstaff what one wants, or point. The second purpose of a menu is to indicate that you are ready to order, by closing the menu and putting it down. Even people who cannot read like to look at pictures; even people who cannot look at pictures like to participate in the “all ready to order” signal by folding their menu and putting it down. Every adult gets a menu, whether they can read it, or hold it, or not, because it’s not the waitstaff’s business to ask or assume what they’re capable of.

Why is it that perfectly able-bodied people develop some mental deficiency when confronted with people who look or act physically different? What is it about someone who sits in a powered chair or whose face isn’t symmetrical and perfectly composed, that makes an able-bodied person unable to speak politely to their face? “What would you like to drink? Are you ready to order? Thank you,” is just as easy to say to someone whose speech is slurred or who writes on a piece of paper. It doesn’t matter even if their answer is interpreted by someone else in the party, or if you have to repeat it back, or if someone else gives an answer FOR them-- that person is your customer and they deserve to be told “Thank you” and the rest to their own personal face, not ignored. If you get paid based on someone’s good opinion, why not be polite to them?

You are very ignorant.

Most complaints of this nature result from servers being overly considerate. And usually they’re ignorant to some degree. There are very, very, few servers that are cocky with disabled customers.
Tell us, how much experience do you have in dealing with the disabled?

Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

Cuz we look retarded.

Bullshit. There is an acceptable way of dealing with people with disabilities, it’s called basic human respect. A normal looking person might be unable to read, does that mean every waiter should ask every customer if a menu is necessary? No, they automatically get a menu because it’s assumed they can read. If there’s special accommodations that need to be made, the customer will notify the waiter: “Excuse me, I have Menu Phobia Dystrophy, could you kindly read the items to me?” If the customer is offended because the waiter assumed basic human respect, well fuck 'em. That mother from your story that was offended because you tried to talk to her disabled son? Fuck her too. I wish I was there so I could smash into her kneecaps. Fuck anyone who’s put off by being treated normally, disabled or not. The people with the disabilities can be wrong too, and often are. Being overly considerate is almost as bad as being not considerate. We (should) treat everyone with underlying human respect, no matter how funny they look. None of this “well I didn’t know how to handle it!” crap, not any more. That crap flew 20 years ago, but it’s 2006 now.

All that aside - dnooman, I want to thank you for the people you helped transport. Transportation is one of the hardest things to handle for a disabled person, I applaud you for what you did, and the basic courtesy you gave everyone.

The problem is that there is a useful policy for waiters/waitresses which should be taught to all of them before they start their jobs. The following policy is not intuitive. It actually has to be taught, and someone who doesn’t understand this policy is not stupid or malicious, merely ignorant. Yes, it would be even better if everyone in the world had to learn this policy, but at the moment that’s not true. The policy is the following:

Give a menu to everyone at the table. You are not a doctor and you’re not qualified to judge who is not able to use a menu. Even a doctor can’t tell just by looking at someone for the first time who can or can’t use a menu. Just give everyone a menu regardless of what disabilities they appear to have. If you’re desperately short of menus and can’t give everyone one, just say so. Tell them that you don’t have a lot of menus and need to know how many the party needs. [Also, don’t give “Age X and younger” menus to people automatically. If there’s a separate children’s menu, say so and ask how many of the diners would like a children’s menu. You’re also not capable of guessing ages accurately.] Assume that everyone who comes into the restaurant is capable of making their own decisions about what they will eat. If the person is not capable of making their own choices, at worst you will have used an extra menu, while if you fail to give a menu to someone who can use it, they may feel insulted by not getting one.

It’s impossible to tell from looking at someone whether or not they can read or the level of their mental abilities.

I’ve run across a half-dozen people with Down’s syndrome who were quite capable of reading restaurant menus, and it’s hard to look more “retarded” than someone with classic Down’s features.

All adults get a menu. For that matter, everyone over the age of 6 gets a menu. I don’t care if they’re blind, deaf, armless, legless, “look retarded”, or all of the above. Err on the side of assuming capability. If they aren’t capable, they or someone else will let you know.

Now MY pet peeve is not for me but for my husband and my mother, neither of whom is physically capable of walking at high speed. “Hostesses” who seat people in restaurants tend to blast off at warp speed, leaving the less footworthy in their dissapating wake. Arriving at their destination, they find they have lost their customers. Meanwhile, the customers (us) are wandering around, having no clue where we are supposed to be going. Honey, unless you have a Star Trek style tractor beam up your ass to pull us along SLOW DOWN!

No thanks needed. I was just doing my job. I wanted to do it, and I’d like to think that I did it well. I am flattered by your appreciation though. Thank you.

Honestly, I took the job because it paid more. It was a similar job to the one I already did, had better hours, paid more, and had more flexibility. I found that I had more time to study, and that unscheduled calls were rare on weekend nights.

I had my fair share of people on crutches going to random classes, blind people needing transportation across campus, and a few people that had limited faculties that needed to be taken from one care center to another.

I learned quickly that my job was less that of a taxi driver, and more that of an orderly. I learned how disabilities affected people both on a physical level, and a social level. I learned that preconceived notions are often wrong in regards to disabilities. It’s hard for both parties. It may sound stupid to you, but try being in the non-disabled person’s shoes.

Their last intention is that they offend anyone in the party, let alone the person with the disability. They may say something stupid, but it’s usually easy to tell dumb from mean.

Treating people with common decency should be the minimum, regardless of abilitiy. I’d like to think that I gave a bit more than that to my riders. I treated them as I would any able-bodied person, with the exceptions made neccesary by their condition.

I see your point. Do you see how the uninformed might see this as a paradox?

Unfortunately we live in a world where ignorance is rampant, basic human kindness is afforded to almost nobody, and rude behavior is almost par for the course.

Short of punching assholes in the face, I’m at a loss as to what else I can do.

Broomstick writes:

> All adults get a menu. For that matter, everyone over the age of 6 gets a menu.

I’d say that everyone except babies in high chairs or being carried in cradles get menus. Again, a waiter/waitress is not capable of guessing ages accurately. At worst, he/she might give a menu to someone who can’t use it.

This makes me wonder what would happen if one of the blind people I knew were handed a menu.

Sara would probably say “Thanks anyways, but I know what I want.”

I can’t remember either of the guy’s names, but one would probably have said “I don’t need the menu really, do you have xxx?” The other guy might have aksed “What’s good here?” If the waitress said everything or something equally as nondescript, he might have said “Just gimme your top five.”

All three of them spat in the face of adversity on a daily basis. Two of them had dogs that I would have severely injured someone for. German shepherds that could do your taxes and tear the leg off of an intruder. Priceless.

“Will a menu be necessary?”

“Is our waitress telepathic?”

FWIW, during my many years of customer service I mostly succeeded in serving them quite well - but I did occasionally drop the ball with customers who were “different”. I still remember the mom who’d brought her 11-yr-old boy to the fancy soap store where I worked, so that he could purchase fancy soaps for himself. And I am so liberal and so pro-gay and pro-child — but my usual customer patter was so ingrained that I kept going back to autopilot & referring to his purchase as being for his mom. Even though I knew better. I’m sure it sent her a judgemental message, which was not my intent; habit sometimes wins.

I was thinking the same thing, but I wouldn’t want to make more rooms for the bussers and resetters. I was just thinking of yelling “PRETTY LADY BRING FOOD!!!” I’m known for subtlety.

That “Will a menu be necessary?” is weird, IMO. Necessary? I’ve never ever been waitstaff, but it sounds odd that she’d offer to NOT give someone a menu.

Make more WORK. WORK. WORK. Now I’m thinking I shouldn’t be trusted with a menu more complicated than a McDonald’s board.