Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Overheard - Don't Be a Bother

We were finishing our meal at a fast food place, and one employee, a woman, probably a supervisor or manager, was giving instructions to another employee, a man. The man happens to have Down Syndrome. We see him wiping tables, sweeping floors or gathering the trash when we're there. Someone is usually telling him what to do, and not always in a friendly or respectful tone.

This day, he was sweeping floors when the woman told him to wipe tables, instead. He said he'd wipe tables when he was finished with the floors. She told him that people could stand on unswept floors, but they wouldn't eat on dirty tables. I like the way she worded that.

He asked her if _______ was coming to the store today, and she said _______ was coming just to pick up her check, not to work, because she had to go to the hospital to be with someone who would be hospitalized for a very long time. And then the supervisor told the man with a tone that I can't say was pleasant, "When she comes in to get her check, DON'T BOTHER HER."

I hated the way she worded that. "Don't bother her." "Don't be a bother."

I think it would have been better to say, something like "She'll be in a hurry. You'll be able to say hello and that's all." Leave the editorializing out of the tone and the words, please.

Don't be a bother. Hmmmph.


PaintCrazy said...

I might have said, "Well maybe you shouldn't bother him while he's trying to do his JOB!" Grrr.

My name is Erin. said...

So many people underestimate the power of their words. And sadly, so many people underestimate the ability of people with special needs to understand those words. My father employs a woman with Downs Syndrome and she is a cherished part of our life. And she has honestly and truly said some of the most profound things to me. She probably would have told that woman to stop bothering HER and let her finish sweeping. : )

The Glasers said...

Words mean things and it is a shame she did not realize how crass she sounded! She was doing great up until that point . . .

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