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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Speak Up

One of these days I will stop raising my voice to anyone I see being rude to someone else. Today is not that day. Tomorrow isn't looking so good either...

The other day, I was with my family at a fast food-type restaurant. While my husband and son were getting a table outside, my daughter and I were getting our drinks. While grabbing some ketchup at the drink station, I overheard a conversation between a manager and an employee who were refilling the ice machine with buckets of ice.

The manager and employee's interaction with each stopped me in my tracks. It made the fierce mama bitch inside of me boil until I could no longer withhold the explosion. I knew that I was going to erupt, and wasn't sure what to do about it, since my daughter was standing there with me and would surely see me lose my shit. But I did it anyway.

The manager, who had to be all of maybe 17, was reprimanding the employee for asking questions. And being incredibly abusive and overpowering to the employee, who was maybe in his 30s.

The employee asked, "How much ice should I put in?"

The manager responded, "You need to fill it up! Just like I told you last time. And every other time. Fill. It. Up. All the way!"

The employee, embarrassed, stuttered, "But how many bu…bu…bu…bu…"

The manger cut him off, "JUST FILL IT UP! All the way to the top. Like I tell you every time! Why is this so hard. Put ice in it until it reaches the top!"

The employee asked again, "OK, but how many bu…bu…bu…"

The manager cut him off again and went about with more abuse.

This is when I lost it.

I said, "He is just asking you how many buckets he will need to fill it up. You don't have to be rude."

The manager said, "I am not being rude."

I said, "If you talked to me like that, I wouldn't be too happy about it. Stop being rude and just listen to him. He is just asking you a question."

The manager was speechless.

I then took my daughter's hand and walked her outside to our table. I was steaming mad. My daughter was confused, but if there is one thing she will learn about her mama, it is that she will ALWAYS defend someone who can't defend themselves.

You see, the employee was a young man with Down Syndrome.

A little while after we sat down to eat our meal, the manager came out. His cheeks were red and you could tell he was embarrassed and felt like an asshole. Because he was.

He said, "I am sorry if you thought I was being rude, ma'am. You see, Steve's dad asked for us to be direct with him and that is just what I was doing. Being direct."

I said, "There is a mile-wide line between being direct and being abusive and you were being the latter. I can go ahead and speak for Steve's dad and say that if he ever witnessed you treating his son the way you did, his fist would get direct with your face."

The manager said more apologies and then walked away. Obviously ashamed of his actions.

I can say without a doubt in my mind that that young boy will never abuse a person with a disability again.

The thing of it is? There were 15 other people standing around who watched the abuse take place. And they didn't say a thing. They just got their napkins and ketchup and went on about with their days. It wasn't their business, right?

But it is our business. As parents, especially, we need to say something when we see someone else's baby being mistreated.

What good are our voices if we don't use them to defend those who can't defend themselves?

Always speak up for those who can't be heard. Always.

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