Monday, August 3, 2009

Diner Part Deux

Last October, I wrote about an unexpected and wonderful experience my children and I had while having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Well, it seems this particular restaurant is chock full of ‘experiences’ for us because something else happened this past Saturday.

We decided to have lunch at the River City Diner again. It was quite crowded but the server was agreeable to seating us in a quiet location away from the hustle and bustle of the lunch crowd. Ashley, understandably, does much better with meals when we keep the stimulation and distractions to a minimum, especially on this particular Saturday because she wasn’t feeling her best.

As the server approached our table to take our orders, Ashley hit the side of her head with her hand. It’s something she does when she is distressed, and although it doesn’t happen often, when it does happen it can be quite disconcerting. The server stopped in her tracks, a few yards from our table, and had a look of shock and horror on her face. She recovered quickly though, and came to the table to take our drink orders.

When the server returned with our drinks and to take our food orders, she immediately apologized for her earlier actions. She said that she had a nephew with Autism, and that she should have behaved better. She convinced me that she understood such behaviors, and she seemed genuinely contrite. I told her I appreciated her apology, and then just gave her our orders.

She was quite an attentive server, a young mother she told us, and a very typical diner sort of waitress. While the reaction initially annoyed me, the result, I believe, was positive. And, I’m hoping that some of the other customers seated nearby also were aware of the exchange, and perhaps had their minds opened a bit also.

What do you think? What would your reaction have been, and would you have handled things differently? I’m really interested in your comments, because as parents of children with special needs know, this sort of situation is common.


Erin said...

Your diner experiences have me grinning from ear to ear! As far as my reaction to her behavior, honestly, I would have previously noticed that she had some different things going on, simply because I've been around it for so long, but I would have asked her (in broken sign language) if she was all right and if there was anything I could do to help her. Noticing that you had other children with you, I would have asked you the same thing.

I guess the bottom line is this: I would have done everything in my power to make your family comfortable, because as a waitress or otherwise, that's my job!

mama edge said...

Sometimes, when I'm out in the world, I just ignore the stares and reactions because it's hard enough just getting myself and my boys through a public moment, much less worrying about what other people think.

Other times, I act as if I am the unofficial Ambassador of Autismland, translating my kids' unusual behaviors to anyone in their radius in the hopes of forging strong diplomatic relationships with the NT world.

And every so often, if someone does something truly awful (e.g. one woman saw my son spinning and shrieking and said in a loud voice, "Is he a retard or sumpin'?"), I rip the offender's still-beating heart out of her insolent chest and show it to her. No, not really. I say something like, "No, he has a developmental disability called autism. What's your diagnosis, my dear?"

Dan Dage said...

When we take community trips. we often encounter people seemingly ignorant and prejudice. Sometimes even within the school. Since I'm a teacher, one of my primary jobs is to try to educate out the ignorance. Sometime it works.

As a parent, I'm actually more forgiving of the ignorant masses whereas my wife is less so. When we're having an autistic meltdown I tend to focus on getting us through it rather than what people say. I'll let more things go, because I just can't live "on the clock" all the time!

reddog said...

You know, everyone has what I call 'asshole moments'. Everybody, every once in a while, does a really rude thing. It's part of being human.

So, the server had an asshole moment. The big thing? She caught herself and apologized. See, unless we can all truthfully say that we have never, ever done something rude *and regretted it*, then we can't bust out someone who clearly regretted their personal 'asshole moment'.