February 18, 2010

Yes, another Blogger with an R-word story. How timely!

I haven't had any "R" word experiences. You'd think that with a nearly-12 year old child with Down syndrome that I'd have come across it more often.

Well, I guess that isn't true. I have had occasional friends or acquaintances slip and use the word, but with a quick apology they have shaped up without much intervention.

But Tuesday night Hannah and I went to 5 Guys for our annual allotment of grease and calories. I have been to 5 Guys one other time, when Chris was craving a burger during a long hospital stay for broken vertebrae.

The first thing I noticed was that there was a hand-written sign on the door.

"We cannot except credit cards at this time since our machine is out of order."

This irritated me of course, not because I didn't have cash, but because of the incorrect usage of "except". I'm such a snob.

We entered the restaurant, and were greeted at the counter by a polite young man, probably about 20 years old. A similar sign excepting credit cards was on the counter. After a friendly greeting, I teasingly said (though perhaps shouldn't have), "This bothers me--the word is "accept", not "except". I am a teacher, and this should be corrected." The young man didn't really understand the difference between the two, but trying to appease the customer, offered up, "Oh, that was _____'s sign. She's retarded."

I knew he was using the term as popular culture does. In a friendly way I said, "Excuse me? Did you say retarded? That is not a word to be used. You need to pay attention." He was confused until I nodded my head towards my daughter (who was oblivious to the entire thing as she was studying the menu). He immediately apologized, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You're exactly right. I won't use that word again." I said, "Thank you. The word 'retarded' is just as bad as other words, you know, like the n-word." (I figured I'd play this card since he'd be sensitive to someone using that word.)

He apologized again and vowed to never use the word.

And then he gave us free fries.

After enjoying our dinner, we were ready to leave. He called out, "I meant it! Really! Have a good night!"




23 comments:

Lianna said...

This is a positive post...and I love the last sentence. I think he does, too!

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

that is a great story - i think you really made an impact on him :)

Kimy said...

I have chills after reading that. Good for you! I feel awkward when I am out and hear someone use that word. I'm never really sure exactly what to say. You said it perfectly. I'll have to steal that line for the future.

Sumithra said...

Thats a positive story. I just hope there are more people like this young man who are willing to correct their mistake.

Lori said...

Hopefully he did mean it. I think that is how we bring change, one person and heart at a time! I have to say you handled it with such grace, I really admire that! My Gess is 8 and I haven't really encountered that word yet either, accept of course in instances as you mentioned. (Yes, I did that tease you!! Accept my apology for not saying except! LOL)

Coco said...

This was my first visit to your blog, but what a great story to start with.

Tara said...

Now this is the best story about the r-word I've read, yet! Thank you! :)

Mel said...

I think that's a great story- hw sounds like he really 'got it'. And good on you for pushing the point. I too am big on spelling and grammar-lol!

Beverly said...

wow, I love this Beth! what a teaching moment you had. thanks for sharing.

To Love Endlessly said...

what an encouraging post and what a wonderful guy at the counter for being so sincere.

Charissa said...

:))) Good for you!

King J's Queen said...

Thank you for using the opportunity to teach him a life lesson rather than "chewing him out". I hope he will keep his word, but if I had to bet, I'd say he will.

PS - I'm having lunch at 5G tomorrow.

Tina said...

Wow that's so encouraging and quite sweet actually. The young man "accepted" and acknowledged his mistake, which is great and this gives us hope that hopefully more people can be as open to positive criticism. Hope you enjoyed your dinner!!

Chris said...

This is a great story, thank you. As someone who has on (very rare) occasion slipped and used this term--to his immediate disgust and disappointment--I admire your approach of gentle correction and education rather than haranguing. Popular slang and unthinking epithets can be difficult to unlearn, or at least "unpractice," even for the most sensitive people. And...congrats on the free fries. :)

Sheena said...

Amazing story, and also... It's never exceptable for a credit/debit card machine to be down!!!!

<3

Karen Longo said...

Isn't it great when you get through to people? Shame that we need to 'get through' so often, though. But cool that he realized his mistake! I had to laugh at "except", since I too am a spelling & grammar nazi! - Kalk

Kristi said...

Thanks for sharing! I do not think he will ever forget your encounter--hopefully it made a lasting impact :).

Stephanie said...

Oh, that made me tear up! There's been so much talk these last couple weeks about "the" word which isn't a bad thing. I've seen many commentators defending it's use with lame excuses about how it's not meant as an insult to people with special needs or it's just the evolution of the English language. I don't think most of these people actually put a face to the word and who they're hurting by using it. Thanks to you and your lovely daughter you were able to do just that!

Lacey said...

Your lucky in that the kid understood that it was wrong. A lot of people think your crazy and never really understand. Way to go mom!

Brandie said...

I love happy endings!

Ruby's Mom said...

You handled that perfectly and got free french fries in the process. ;)

Natalie said...

You are so good about sticking up for what's right! I would probably be wimpy and not say anything. Ugh.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. What a great story. If only that is how it could always be.