I work in the service industry; more specifically I work in a deli.
Today there was an elderly man that came in and took a while starring at the cases before making his order. I had asked him what he wanted and he wrote on a scrap of paper “Potato Salad”. After that point I realize I stopped speaking and finished serving him in silence, only when he was walking away after mouthing the words “thank you” did I at least mumble “have a nice day”.
He couldn’t speak, that much was apparent. But could he hear? Why did I assume he couldn’t hear just because he couldn’t speak? Could he hear just fine and was wondering why I had suddenly stopped speaking to him after I saw him write his order instead of speak? Even if he couldn’t hear does it make it any less wrong that I assumed he couldn’t?
After he left and this occurred to me I felt rotten. I think of my self as a largely non-discriminatory person; but this event had me examining that. My reaction to someone that was ‘passing’, someone that was fitting into my expectations and then suddenly breaking them had results that I am not pleased with. It was rude, discriminatory, and wrong; and if I ever see that fellow again I owe him an apology.
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