Defeating The Rude Aliens From Planet Booron

by admin on March 23, 2011

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I were taking the day off and decided to get lunch at our favorite Mexican fast-food joint as a little treat. Usually we take food home and eat while watching a movie or something, partly because I have lingering issues with social anxiety and eating disorders that make me extremely uncomfortable eating around strangers. I’ve been trying to deal with this since childhood and now as a young adult I feel like I’m in control of these feelings, but they haven’t gone away. And what happened yesterday pretty much cemented that they never will.

My boyfriend is very understanding about my “food weirdness” as we call it and does his best to reassure me. I had assumed we would take the food home like usual but he suggested we eat in the restaurant and plan the rest of our day. I wasn’t entirely feeling up to it and said, only half joking, that I didn’t want the restaurant staff to “judge me”. (I’m not a big girl, but I do have a large appetite and am self conscious about it.) He told me I was being silly and in we went.

The restaurant wasn’t very busy, but there were a few people in line at the counter and seated around, and one woman taking orders. When it was our turn I smiled and greeted her politely and placed my order. When my boyfriend began to tell her what he would like, she suddenly looked startled and cut him off in mid sentence, exclaiming loudly enough for everyone to hear: “Wait, all that food is just for YOU?!” She then started guffawing loudly, flapping her hands around like nothing so funny had ever happened in her entire life, repeatedly making comments about how much I had ordered.

I was absolutely mortified but had no idea what to say, so I just kind of nervously laughed along hoping she would finish our transaction quickly.

She finished taking my boyfriend’s order, still chuckling to herself, she then turned to me and asked me a question but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I don’t know whether because she was still laughing or because all the blood rushing to my face was affecting my hearing. I grabbed my receipt and turned to find a table as she reposed the question to my boyfriend.

We ate our meal in near complete silence. I felt totally embarrassed by what had happened but was trying not to let it get to me. When we were walking back to the car, I asked him what she had said because I hadn’t understood her last comment. She had asked him if I was pregnant!!! Needless to say I didn’t eat dinner that night …

What makes me feel worst of all was that it was my usual food order and now I feel that every time I have ordered it the staff and other customers have been disgusted by me and thought I was a ridiculous over eater. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll be eating out for a while. Or ever again. 0322-11

Youth seems to exacerbate a person’s  flustered inability to respond to the rude boors of the world.   It’s like being a deer in the headlights….caught unaware that there is a epic faux pas barreling down on them with blinding ill manners.

What you need to do is exercise your confidence muscles by remembering a few things.

1) Who gives a flying flip what a total stranger thinks about you?  Does this person have any investment in your health and happiness?  No.  Your rude boor was a cashier.  Enough said.    When I was much younger, I used to exercise my confidence by remembering that my husband loves me and that it really doesn’t matter what these freaky strangers might think.

When I was pregnant with baby #2, I was grocery shopping and had put 2 cartons of ice cream in my cart.  A complete stranger came over to me and proceeded to point out which items in my cart I didn’t need, including the ice cream.   I don’t really like ice cream, it was for my husband but I was so flabbergasted that some woman would have the audacity to actually presume to lecture me on what to buy that I had that “deer in the headlights” moment.    Being older and wiser, if this had happened again, I would have gently removed her hand from my items in my cart, told her to mind her own business while giving her a look that was sure to convey my belief that she was a rude alien from the planet Booron.

2)  Sometimes others’ comments can be a useful tool for personal reflection but once you come to a conviction that X is just fine with you (such as what you choose to eat, etc),  what others think shouldn’t rattle your cage.  It does get better as you getter older because you gain confidence that’s OK to be you.

3)  Know etiquette right from wrong.   I’m a firm believer that the more we know about etiquette and how to behave in society, the greater our confidence to deal with those who don’t.   There is a quiet war against the invasion of aliens from Planet Booron and we must win!   For heaven’s sake, don’t stop eating out at restaurants or else the aliens have succeeded.

If you had to do it over again, this is how one could react to that hyena cashier.   Fix her with a steely look and ask to speak to the manager immediately.   (And btw,  while it is rude to stare at people with true disfigurements, it is quite OK to stare at aliens from Booron as if they had five horns growing from their head.)   When manager arrives, explain that the cashier was behaving inappropriately by mocking your food choices and that you would appreciate it if he would deal with the poor customer service.  If hyena cashier IS the manager, ask to speak to the owner.    If all else fails, simply say, “I see. Well, that is unfortunate.”   Once home,  hightail it to every online restaurant review site and submit a truthful but scathing review.   I did this once years ago and the next day returned to the restaurant with a handful of print outs from the sites I had used to review the restaurant, silently handed them to the manager and walked out.   Restaurant closed six months later.  Hmmmm, I wonder why.  Could it be that there are consequences to bad actions?

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Wink-n-Smile March 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

For those of you who don’t want to do the nuclear option, perhaps due to anxiety, or just being tender-hearted and don’t want to get the cashier in too much trouble, then just silently take the picture, and complete the transaction without another word.

Leave her wondering what you’re going to do with that picture. Where will it end up? Will it be posted online? Will she be publicly shamed for all the world to see? Will you just hang on to it? If so, why would you want a private picture of a total stranger? Are you going to print it and draw a mustache on it, or maybe put it on your dartboard? What if you’re into black magic or voodoo, and plan to use it for some horrible spell against her? YMMV – depending on just how paranoid and superstitious she is. Odds are, though, that the cashier’s brain will torment her in one way or another, even if you never do anything but delete the picture the moment you get home.

And since you don’t have to actually say anything, or do anything beyond point and click (or just pretend, if your cell phone doesn’t have a camera – press a random button just to get a noise), it should be easy enough even for someone with social anxiety.

And give the boyfriend a talking-to, please, about how he should have stood up for you, or at least gotten the food to go, and got you out of that uncomfortable environment as soon as possible. He behaved in an ungentlemanlike manner.

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ashley March 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

If the cashier was laughing so obnoxiously over a food order then I’d hate to see how she’d react to something thats actually funny O.o

OP’s boyfriend sounds like a real sweetheart for his reassurance over her eating habits and I agree with that admin that the OP should try to build up her confidence more.

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Wink-n-Smile March 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Chocobo:

Sweet, sweet Ehell fodder – Muahahaha!

Do you do this out loud? While rubbing your hands in anticipation, and grinning widely, with lowered brows and narrowed eyelids?

You have to get the facial expression right and body language, to get the full effect. I recommend stooping your shoulders forward just a tad, while chuckling ominously.

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Enna March 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

OP, write in and complain, say you have recovered from eating problems which are valid medication conditions and follow it up – if the cashier isn’t warned, disciplined etc (maybe not sacked otherwise she might not change her ways if she is told to leave on the first offence) . Good for you for eating at the resturant. There is NOTHING wrong with a woman having a healthy appettite – but thanks to some parts of the media it’s not “cool” for women to eat lots and enjoy food.

I’m a Diabetic and at Uni one of my firends asked me “should you be eating that pancake?” and I said “Yes. I have managed my Diabetes for 10 years (at the time).” The ironic thing is she now has a food intolrance and complained to me a couple of weeks ago about people telling her “Should you be eating X?” After 12 years (half my life!) of living with the condition I’m constantly told by people who aren’t medically qualified nor do they have the condition about what I can and can’t eat. If I give myself enough insulan I can eat a large 3 course meal if I want too – or an entire massive chocolate cake!

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Enna March 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

P.S as with the firend who has the food intolerance, we have expericnce now something in common – attacks from silly ignorant bossy Boorons

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Enna March 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm

P.S # 2 – surely OP the more food you buy the more money it is for the company? Maybe flip it back on the rude Cashier’s head: “Why don’t you want me to spend my money and pay your wages?”

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Chocobo March 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Stepmomster: I guess it all depends on the tone of voice and context, but the employee’s Christmas card comment sounds more chummy than malicious. More like “you’re a regular!” vs. “what the heck are you doing here, again?” A lot of people like the familiarity that comes with being the Regular — one of my coworkers went to a donut chain in the morning and got the same thing every morning, to the point that they’d always recognize her in line, know her name, and have her breakfast waiting for her by the time she checked out. She always liked it, I would have too if I went all the time.

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Chocobo March 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm

@Wink-n-Smile: No, I drum my fingers together like Mr. Burns and mutter it under my breath. It’s very effective in changing the direction of the conversation AND creeping everyone out!

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Random March 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Something similar happened to my mom’s friend. This friend’s daughter had just been released from the hospital. I’m not sure what treatment she needed, but it made her look very bloated. On the way home, they stopped at a fast food place, since the daughter loved it and had not had any real food in awhile. The mother ordered a larger than normal meal for her and the cashier asked if she was sure her daughter needed all that since she was so overweight already. The mother had no problem explaining exactly why the daughter needed the food, and the cashier was reprimanded.

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stellanor March 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

If you can manage it, cultivating a really good “I cannot believe you just said that” face can get you far. I’m pretty shy and socially awkward but after a death in my family people said a lot of stunningly, unbelievably rude things (usually out of sheer cluelessness). I was never able to muster a verbal response, but staring at them like I could not believe such a thing would ever come out of their mouth was generally sufficient. After a couple of seconds they got (rightfully) very embarrassed.

If that doesn’t work, well, that tells you a lot about the person’s social skills too.

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jenna March 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I’m wondering about the boyfriend too. The OP describes him as loving, helpful and reassuring, but I saw something completely different.

I saw someone who knows his girlfriend has issues eating in public and yet asked her to…eat in public (maybe he was trying to gently help her face her fears, or sometimes she does eat in public so it’s OK to suggest occasionally…this could be let go).

I saw someone who didn’t stand up for her when she was so shocked and embarrassed as to be speechless.

I saw someone who not only let a cashier talk to her that way, knowing the anxiety issues she has and that she may not have it in her to stand up for herself at this point in her life (otherwise I’d say that “well, maybe he thought she’d stand up for herself and he wouldn’t have to do it for her, and by the time it was clear she wouldn’t, it was too late…but he KNOWS she has these issues so that doesn’t really fly)….but also didn’t tell the cashier off after she’d run off.

Or better yet…cancelled the whole order and asked to speak to a manager before going to a different establishment.

I see someone who, instead of a gracious white lie about what the cashier said to ease any further discomfort, told her the truth (completely unnecessary, IMHO).

I see someone who didn’t ask for the order to be quickly packed up to go, knowing that she’d feel awful in the restaurant, and instead saw no problem with still eating there.

Now, I do understand that one can’t expect a significant others to always swoop in and save him/her, and at the end, you have to learn to stand up for yourself (even if that means therapy), so I’m not saying he should have immediately been at attention as a knight in shining armor – at first, he may well have been just as speechless as she was.

But knowing her challenges with anxiety and food, and knowing how bad she must have felt, and being the person who does not have these issues, I think he could have done a better job.

I didn’t really see a great boyfriend in the story the OP told.

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PrincessSimmi March 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Whoa! I’m a big eater, and I’ve never had people comment to me. I also have an issue with how much I eat. I have talked to a lot of my friends about it, and I am assured that while I am a ‘large’ girl – I wear a size 16 top and size 14 pants (Australian sizes) – I am not fat or overweight and they would never dream of mentioning how much I eat. For perspective, I can put away a large pizza on my own, and still be hungry. I eat double what a normal 22 year old female would. And if anyone ever said anything to me, I would knock them out, because underneath my layer of fat I have layers of muscle from working 60 hours per week in a man’s job. Maybe working out with weights would give you more confidence? I’ve found the stronger I get, the more I stand up for myself. Also, how much you eat has no perspective on what you look like. I work VERY hard and need a lot of food to support this. People who exercise need more food. People with faster metabolisms need more food. You sound like a lovely person who needs a little confidence. I’d love to meet you if I was able.

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PrincessSimmi March 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

@Fox – sorry, just wanted to add a quick note

While I’ve never worked at McDonalds, I do work at a well-known Pizza Store in Australia – the most popular. We often run deliveries and pick-ups for 15-25 pizzas, complete with 2 milk crates of drinks and 20 garlic breads. Just the other night I took a 16-pizza order to a pub. I can guarantee you, I don’t stand there and wonder ‘why is that lady picking up three pizzas? Is she going to eat them all herself?’ or ‘why did they ask for 16 pizzas if there is only 10 people there to eat them?’ I wonder ‘did we do it right? Are the pizzas hot enough?Are the toppings spread evenly? Did they get squashed during delivery? Did I smile at the customer? Are they going to tip me?’ So, I wouldn’t worry about what the 15-year-old at the drive-thru thinks of you. I often pick up food from McDonalds and drive it back to my cousins and grandma. And even if they do care, and say anything to you, you can always find a restaurant that will treat you right!

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sgtpeper March 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

This happened to me one time late at night in a drive thru. I had not eaten since the afternoon of the previous day so on my way home from work I stopped at a Taco Hell and placed a fairly large order. Now being 6’9, over 300lbs former college football player I am quite large, but I rarely eat in large quantities. I’ve had girlfriends that eat more than I do. Anyway I place my order and pull to the window. The teenager working looks me over and takes my money. Then he hands me my drink and a bag with napkins and hot sauce. He has yet to say anything, but I can tell he wants to say something. He closes the window to go get my food and I see him talking with another employee there. Finally my order is ready and the teen cashier sneers at his friend and opens the window and says with as much “Look how funny and cool I am” as he can muster,

“Is ALL this food for you” he snorts and laughs.
Without missing a beat I take the food, look right at him and go.
“Aww, no. I mean your moms got to eat too right?”
His co worker laughs out loud and teen cool dude loses his smile and tries to stammer for a comeback, but looks like a deer caught in headlights as I drive off.
I know it’s against ehell policy, but when total strangers deem it necessary to be donkeys I like to help them on their way. I don’t stoop to their level, but I will take a quick vacation there to see them if I have too!

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Sarah March 24, 2011 at 2:23 am

There is nothing wrong with having a big appetite! I’m naturally slim but I eat huge amounts of food, even after I’m full, simply because I absolutely love to eat. I’m not embarassed at all – food is awesome and so are the people who love it. There’s only one person who makes snide comments and “jokes” about my eating habits, and that’s one girl who makes snide comments about EVERYTHING, because she belittles others to feel better about her own insecurities (in this case, I suspect it’s because she’s a little overweight). When she starts in I just say “yep, I’m so lucky that I can eat anything I want and still stay this size so I might as well make the most of it while it lasts!” It may seem a bit mean or show-offy, but I think if someone tries to make you feel bad about something the best approach is turn it into something that you should feel good about. And if it makes them feel jealous or highlights their own inadequacy, well, that’s the consequence for trying to put people down.

I realise with social anxiety it would be difficult to respond in this way, but what I mean is that she’s obviously trying to make you feel bad to make herself feel good, possibly because she is insecure about her own size or jealous that she can’t eat that much without being overweight, or possibly because of other insecurities or even a plain old Mean Streak. So next time you feel like someone is judging you, even if you can’t speak up, try to keep this in mind. And ask your boyfriend to say something in the future!

P.S. I’ve worked in food service myself and, while I’ve judged numerous customers for their rude behaviour, I’ve never judged anyone on what they ordered and I’m sure most others wouldn’t either.

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jenna March 24, 2011 at 2:49 am

sgtpeper – that made me laugh out loud! Technically not good etiquette policy but considering how the kid was acting, I’d say we can let it slide, and points for humor.

Reminds me of a story in an advice column I read regularly: the OP ate healthy, nutritious, veggie-heavy foods and her mother-in-law ate deep-fried meat with fries. One day at a restaurant, the OP ordered a salad with a healthy dressing and MIL says “I don’t see how you can do that to yourself”.

The OP looked at MIL’s chicken fried steak and shot back, without thinking, “And I don’t see how *you* can do that to *yourself*.”

General consensus: yeah, technically rude, technically fighting fire with fire, and several ways of apologizing while maintaining dignity and not inferring that comments about her healthy diet are acceptable were offered…

…but her offense was a.) funny and b.) far smaller than her MIL’s offense because it was a defense.

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karmabottle March 24, 2011 at 5:21 am

Good one, SgtPepper! Good one!

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stephanie March 24, 2011 at 5:29 am

I can empathise with the OP. I suffered from Anorexia and Bulimia for 8 years and along with feeling self-conscious about eating in public due to the actual eating disorders & social anxiety, I was humiliated by thoughtless and rude people (including shop staff) commenting on my size and the fact that I didn’t eat or didn’t eat enough. During this time, I also worked for a couple of years as a checkout operator. It was more stabs into my already fragile ego to have to endure daily comments and insults from customers and fellow colleagues about my size. OP, I’m really sorry that you had to endure such a horrible encounter with such a rude, arrogant cashier. What can only wonder what sort of pathetic, boring person she must be to even think about the quantity of food a complete stranger is eating. Please don’t let her actions stop you from enjoying life and food.

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Alison March 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

I think what the other commenters, and the admin, need to understand is what eating disorders do to someone’s perception of food. The exact commented I’m thinking of is admin’s number 2.

I do not have an eating disorder, but I’ve had front-ring seats to my sister’s. For me, food is comfort and sustenance. For my sister, it’s something totally perverted. It’s impossible not to think others are judging you on your food choices, because your head isn’t 100% right on it. It’s easy to let food be the enemy again.

Just remember when you are commenting on someone else’s food choices, that food might be a battle for them.

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--Lia March 24, 2011 at 8:22 am

Maitri– Insinuating that someone is too stupid to know how to put the right groceries into her shopping cart or too stupid to know what’s good for her is an insult.

For those who have said that the OP’s boyfriend should have stood up to the rude cashier– Perhaps he should have, but my picture of the situation is that he was as flabbergasted as she was and didn’t know what to say.

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DGS March 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

An addendum to my earlier comment: I would think that the only polite way to greet a regular at a restaurant would most definitely not be saying, “It’s you again, huh?” but rather, “Mr. So-and-so, how lovely to see you again! Your usual table?”

And from having worked with many patients with eating disorders, sometimes it’s not the quality of food, but the food types (avoiding carbs, eating lots of protein) or having quirks about food touching other food, or eating particular things together that might seem strange to a food service worker. However, a professional server/cashier/waiter shouldn’t comment on it – it doesn’t matter if the person wants to order a pound of lettuce leaves with a side of three burgers, hold the buns.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson March 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm

BUT… They’re not all like that, even when you’ve got a ‘food weirdness.” Let me tell you about a wonderful experience:

I was far from home, evidently hadn’t eaten right, or enough, and had the shakes and the stupids. I pulled into a McDonald’s and stood there looking at the menu, not seeing anything that (a) sounded good and (b) my severe wheat sensitivity would allow me to eat. There were two women behind the counter, one in uniform, one not but wearing a name badge; the one in uniform asked if she could help me, and I said that it didn’t look like it, as all their breakfast selections had wheat in them, and turned to go. To my surprise she said, “Well, why don’t we just give you the scrambled eggs out of a breakfast burrito, and maybe some hash browns?” Says I, “That’d be great! I didn’t know you could do special orders here!” So I had the eggs and the hash browns, and they were exactly what I needed.

Afterwards I went back to the counter and asked the woman with the badge if she were the manager; she was. Immediately the woman who served me looked worried. “This woman,” I said, pointing at the cashier, “Needs a raise and a promotion. She went above and beyond, creatively.” Smiles all around. I know that she and I made each other’s day.

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Jilly Bean March 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

@sgtpeper – I literally laughed out loud with that one. Good on you. I wish I could think quickly.

OP – props to you for keeping your cool, and for staying to eat. I honestly would’ve been too nauseous, and red faced to even stand being in the building. My fight or flight (usually flight) instincts would’ve kicked in, and I would’ve fled.

And I’ll put in my story, too:

I used to be very skinny – like skin & bones, you could see my collar bone jutting out, and I could see my ribs when I moved. However, I was always eating plenty, and never starved myself. I was once studying with my friend, J, and her friend, L, in a library. L offered me a brownie, and I didn’t particularly feel like one, so thanked her but declined. L then asked if I was anorexic, and I said that I wasn’t. L then pushed even further and asked if I was bulemic. I was so taken aback, that my immediate reaction was to educate her on the symptoms of bulemia, while indicating that I definitely wasn’t a bulemic. A few hours later I came up with a “shoulda said”. “Yes, I am bulemic. And you know what, I think I will have that brownie.”

After getting to know L, I realized that she was very straightforward, though could be thoughtless at times. My friend J was shocked I didn’t just out and out yell at her, but it’s definitely the “deer in headlights” syndrome.

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Miss Raven March 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

@Enna – What’s up, D-buddy!? In a tizzy of frustration last year, I wrote a note on Facebook (visible only to friends) called “10 Things Never to Say to a Diabetic: A Guide for the Pancreatically Stable.” It included such gems as, “Should you be eating that!?” and “I could never be a Diabetic! I HATE needles!” Are you kidding me. Yes, I should be eating this because sometimes I can treat myself because my A1c is just fine and also it’s nunya bidness. Or yes, I should be eating this because my sugar is crashing and it’s still nunya bidness. (As for the thing about needles, that made it to #1 just because of how hurtful and insensitive it can be, but it still seems to slip out of people, from strangers to my good friends. I don’t like needles either. But if it’s needles or death, you would, and I did, woman up and choose needles.)

I have to respectfully – not disagree entirely – but add some qualifiers to the Etiquette Maven’s advice. It is always good to try to build your confidence, to complain to management when an employee is flat-out rude, and to remind yourself that your eating habits are nobody’s business. But it sounds like the OP has spent years recovering from something like an eating disorder, and it’s not an issue of confidence or a reality check. There are actual psychological issues at play. What this cashier did was completely out of line, but worse, because the OP is a person recovering from problems with food, actually very harmful to a customer’s psyche.

Obviously the cashier can’t have known that, but it doesn’t matter. She should act with every transaction as though each customer she serves could possibly be damaged by her hurtful behavior. It’s good to work on your eating confidence, OP, but if you’re still finding your daily life disrupted by these past issues, there is no shame in talking to a professional.

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Molly March 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Probably not a helpful comment, but you could respond that “My tapeworm is hungry, do you have a problem with that?” or some other smart-assitude. And then give them the crazy eyes. Or the restaurant review idea…probably better. Most sites that I visit only have one or two reviews for each place so every review carries a ton of weight. If one person loved it, but two thought it was terrible, I am probably not going to be dining there. And as long as you are honest, it is a good way to have a voice without the interaction.

Sadly, in real life, I am sometimes a member of the planet Booron. I don’t mean to be, but things come out of my mouth that sound okay to me but are actually often rude, prying, insensitive, or something else. Social cluelessness + an inability to read people = faux pas. Luckily, I have forgiving friends who understand that I don’t mean to be mean, I just have a big mouth and that my mind is usually somewhere else when things pop out. I don’t think I do it to strangers, but if I have in the past (and in the future), sorry, y’all.

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bmyster March 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I find equal fault with the OP’s boyfriend and the cashier here. The cashier was definitely very rude and hurtful in what she said. I think such a comment should get the cashier at least reprimanded if not fired — customer facing workers should always be polite or at least keep hurtful comments to themselves.

But I feel the boyfriend, since he knew his girlfriend has social anxiety AND was very uncomfortable, shouldn’t have sat down to eat at the restaurant. If she wanted to be pushed past her comfort zone, that’s one thing, but to me it seemed the OP was being dragged into it.

So I believe he had more responsibility to act with kindness—since he knows her, and took the set of actions which resulted in her being extremely uncomfortable. In this case, I think the best thing he could have done would be to pay for their food, put the food he is eating in a doggy bag, and leave. In other words, to leave the toxic situation.

Basically, his comfort in sitting down to eat a meal shouldn’t be more important than her anxieties, particularly when he knew about them beforehand. To me, compassion and politeness are about reasonable accommodation.

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Michele March 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm

As an individual who is recovering from an eating disorder, I can understand the feeling of helplessness that one gets when some jerk comments on how much food is being ordered/eaten. I have learned, however, that people aren’t usually commenting on how much I eat because they think I’m a pig, but rather they’re commenting because they think I’m too thin to be eating as much as I do.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where it’s okay be snarky about someone’s weight so long as they’re skinny. You can’t expect others to know that you’re recovering from an eating disorder, so speak up if it happens again. Tell the person that you have a disease (yes, eating disorders are diseases!) that affects your weight and that they’ve reminded you of your self-consciousness regarding it. That usually elicits a mousy apology and some very quickly zipped lips!

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MollySue March 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Something to remember:
You wouldn’t worry about what other people think of you, if you knew how rarely or how little they did.

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Izzy March 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

wow, I really feel for the OP, I’m sure you could have thought up a snappy comeback if not for your anxiety, I hope you do seek some sort of treatment for it (i do hear anxiety is one of the more curable of illnesses).
I think what people need to keep in mind is that OP is in a very vunerable state, being shocked and redfaced is a perfectly reasonable response. What does infuriate me is the boyfriend, why didn’t he man up and protect his girlfriend? Sounds like he doesn’t deserve you :S
Still, cheer up, I find when I get home and have a list of “i should have done this” I get more frustrated…unless you start to think of really funny/ridiculous responses, I find that cheers me up easier.

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RP March 25, 2011 at 12:18 am

I’d just like to point out, as a former retail worker/fast food employee, that the employees really don’t care if you walk out. You think you’re teaching the employee a lesson by not giving them your business…

@Tara – You’re missing the point. The goal is not that the employee is supposed to feel bad when you never show up again. The goal is to only spend your money with establishments that actually deserve it. If their employees can’t refrain from insulting their customers then you don’t do business there.

I know that the loss of one customer usually isn’t enough to hurt a business but I also know of several local restaurants and bars that ended up closing because the staff was rude. But whether it’s a local business or a large retail chain that’s not going anywhere there’s no reason to just accept behavior from businesses that you wouldn’t accept in personal relationships.

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Stepmomster March 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

Chocobo-

Unfortunately, the lady was not very nice in her Christmas Card comment, she said it in a really snide voice, after I heard her say to a coworker over her headset “It’s you-know-who again!” and a laugh. I am not normally sensitive, at all. But if people are going to laugh at a customer, they don’t deserve my bussiness.

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Enna March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

@ Jenna, the OP’s bf might have been as shocked as OP was – doesn’t mean he’s a bad bf. We don’t know how old the OP and bf are, sometimes dealing with bad comments like this can shock the most wise and mature and experienced people. He might have thought “I’m going enjoy my meal with my gf no matter what this ignorant cashier thinks”. Maybe the BF was trying not to cause a scene or start a argument with the cashier as that might have embarrassed OP even more, especially if he was unsure himself on how to act.

@ Miss Raven: my friend wasn’t as rude/patronising as some have been. I also agree with the “I’m too scared of needles I could never be Diabetic.” I was put on the spot at school once in a lesson about Diabetes – the teacher wasn’t really listening to what I was saying and I had to repeat myself several times until I gave up and said “Just what you said”. One of the other class members did a very amusing impression of her afterward.

OP if that was your normal order go in there and order it again. If the crazy cashier is there again and makes the same “joke” say “how about we share this “laugh” with your manger? I’m sure he/she would find it concerning an employee would be so rude.”

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Athena Carson March 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Oh I’m so sorry you had to go through that – how horrible! The admin is right – situations like this are a lot easier to handle once you learn not to care what strangers think about you. I used to be extremely self-conscious, so I really do understand how you feel. For me, I had to go through a horribly desperate and debasing experience for me to look back and say, “You know what? Even though I made a fool out of myself, guess what? The sun still rose in the morning just the same.” That was the turning point, from which I learned not to be as self-conscious. Unfortunately, the learning experience itself was so painful that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. I hope, for your sake, you can learn not to worry about what others think – it’s really very liberating.

Good luck. /hug

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jenna March 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm

@Enna – The thing about “I’m going to enjoy this meal with my girlfriend no matter what this rude cashier thinks” doesn’t hold up when he knows, as her boyfriend, how upset she must be. Instead of trying to reassure her afterwards, he repeated the “she asked if you’re pregnant” comment, which leads me to my conclusion of “what’s up with him?” If that hadn’t happened, I might’ve been able to accept “maybe he was just as shocked as she was” but that ending instead made me think “he’s not as sensitive as she claims he is”.

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WOW March 26, 2011 at 2:28 am

To the posters suggesting to wordlessly take a photo…are you mad?
What a completly heartless, rude and intimidating thing to achieve. If you do not have the courage to state your complaint, then you will likely not have the courage for the repercusion of this behaviour. For your information I have had an experience where a disgruntled customer took my photo. The police view that as threatening behaviour and intimidation. Its gets pretty ugly for the shutterbug.
To the original poster, harden up sweetie. So the lady laughed at you, I highly imagine she had no intention of offending you. I have had similar things occur and because it was amusing that I was ordering enough food for a family and dining alone, I laughed along.
You need to realise that the world is not aware of your inner demons or “weirdness”, that and they generally don’t care. Everyone has a burden.

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Edhla March 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

WOW- something tells me you deserved to be photographed by that disgruntled customer. I also call shenanigans on the police viewing a person taking a single photograph as “threatening behaviour and intimidation.” If the person in question was pursuing you and persistently violating your personal space, yes, but in a fast food setting there is a wide counter between customer and employee. Your claim is absolute rubbish.

You want us to feel sorry for you because someone apparently ruined your life by photographing you, but you think the OP should “harden up” over being insulted when she already has food issues? Good grief. When the disgruntled customer photographed you, pray tell why didn’t you “laugh along”?

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WOW March 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Edhla I am not expecting any sympathy and I am sorry if you read it that way. I don’t need sympathy because I took appropriate action and protected my image from a complete stranger who could have used my image in any negative or defaming manner they choose.
You are absolutly correct that taking a persons photo is not a crime – I am sure we all have lovely holiday snaps with strangers in the background. However the purpose of capturing someones image during a confrontation is considered by the authorities in the same manner it was intended by the photographer. As a action designed to intimidate and scare the subject. To leave the subject with fears as to how and when that image may emerge in any of the vast electronic mediums available.
I stand by my comment that the poster does need to appreciate that the world does not view her in the same way she views herself. Her issues are her issues and it is unfair to assume that a stranger can have a complete understanding of that. The unfortunate situation the poster found herself in with a clearly rude woman was unacceptable but did not present an ongoing danger. My hope is the poster finds that wonderful life epiphany that the world is not judging you the way you judge yourself.

I hope I have cleared my expression up and unlike your good self not resorted to “mud slinging” and making assumptions that were not stated in my comment. Just as I may have underestimated the posters grief at the situation you have certainly made some very broad assumptions about me and what I deserve.

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Edhla March 27, 2011 at 4:39 am

WOW- I continue to be baffled as to why you cannot “harden up” and “laugh along” as you instruct the OP to.

This site is not about “ongoing dangers” but breaches of etiquette. Remarks on what a stranger is eating, isn’t eating, how much they are eating, or how much they aren’t eating, are a breach of etiquette even if the target of such remarks “laughs along”; the danger is, as this post highlights, food is a delicate issue for many, many people.

The reason delicate subjects aren’t brought up among strangers is simply as you have described it- if you don’t know somebody, you have no idea about their fears, issues, complexes, individual histories. So it’s better not to bring up subjects where offence may be caused. Someone with an eating disorder CANNOT just “snap out of it” and realise that they are their own worst enemy. And if what happened is truly as the OP put it, then yes, this worker WAS laughing at how much they ordered for themselves. In fact they were making a ridiculously big deal about it (honestly, some people need more hobbies, as they are amused by the stupidest things.)

I fail to see how any neurotypical adult living in the first world could not know that it is seriously rude to comment on the food choices of a stranger.

Especially when you are selling aforementioned food to them!

On photography: the purpose of taking a photograph, in this instance, is not to intimidate. It is to identify them in the case of a person not identifying themselves so they can be complained about to the appropriate people. Asking for someone’s name to report them to higher-ups isn’t harrassment or intimidation either, and neither is asking for a manager. If the person in question feels intimidated or scared because they are about to be reported, then their own conscience has outed the kind of person they really are- someone who cannot stand behind their own words and actions and answer for themselves.

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WOW March 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Thank you Edhla you are obviously unwavering in your opinions/assumptions and I feel no need to correct you further.

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Ms_Shell March 28, 2011 at 12:47 am

@WOW – I have no eating issues, and I would have been livid at the cashier myself. It’s got far less to do with the OP’s view of herself than with the boorish and crass behavior of the cashier.

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Sadie March 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

OP here …

I wanted to say thank you to everyone — to the admin for the advice and support, and to all of you for being so understanding and helping me to let it into my head that it wasn’t what I did to make her behave that way, but just the fact that she did behave that way that is the problem.

I hope I’ll be able to find some kind of counseling that I can afford. I’ve always just thought this is something I’d eventually “get over” or “snap out of” and I have gotten better year by year, but hearing about other people’s experiences it seems I really should do something more to manage my issues instead of just trying to ignore them.

As for my BF, yes sometimes he is extremely clueless. To be fair a lot of the time I am so focused on not seeming “over emotional” that I don’t think he knows just how badly I feel. I think in this instance he was either so shocked himself that he just wanted to let me get away from her without causing more of a scene, or he misinterpreted my reaction and didn’t realize I was internalizing it so much instead of just being surprised at someone’s rude behavior. He was apologetic after we left and noticed how upset I still was … I mean, it’s not his fault though. How could he ever expect in a million years something I am so paranoid about would actually happen?

On the bright side, even though this set me back for a while, there’s something liberating in knowing that one of the things I’ve feared most in the world (however irrationally) has happened … and as one commenter said, “the sun still rose the next day.” I hope that if, god forbid, something like this happens again, I’ll be able to use the EHell steely gaze and walk away with my head high.

Thank you all again~

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Enna March 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

@ Jenna – the thing is we weren’t there so we can’t really tell what the BF did. Maybe he comforted her afterwards: there is potential danger that if the boyfirend said something, that it would be the wrong thing and caused a scene it could backfire and make the OP feel worse. It is easy to be wise after an event 20-20 hind sight.

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Maryann April 1, 2011 at 9:46 am

I had something like this happen to me one time. I’m a young woman, the culprit was a man more than old enough to be my father, and let’s just say that I’m quite convinced, from his appearance, that he’s not exactly the healthy living type.

I was in a supermarket where you bag your own food at the checkout. There are two conveyor belts so two people can bag at once. I was at one, he was at the other. I was buying a variety of items, from fresh vegetables to junk food, but he happened to notice the junk as the normal food was already bagged and in my cart. He looked at what I was bagging and began to laugh and made a comment, which was in no way a joke, about my food. It was something incredibly stupid and to the effect of, “Ha ha ha! Look at what you’re buying. Nice diet.” He did not say any of this nicely or ironically, he said it with nasty derision.

The incredible irony was that, when I looked, he was buying nothing, absolutely nothing, but several bags of store brand Cheetohs and bottles of soda. After my initial slack-jawed shock, I glanced at his cart, cocked an eyebrow, looked him in the eye and said flatly, “Mmm hmm. Enjoy your cheese puffs, sir.” He didn’t even look at me after that.

I realize that by taking note of what he was buying, like he did to me, I may not have followed etiquette to the letter, but there are moments when holding a mirror up to a boor is the best retort. My family has no finesse, while I’ve tried to develop a modicum, but they none the less taught me never to lay down for a boor or a bully, and I don’t and rarely have.

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Enna April 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

@ Maryann – I don’t think you were rude, you were just highlighting his hypocsy. You did not swear, say anything rude or get personal.

Personally I think the OP did very well to eat at the restuant – she’s overcome a challenge and if she’s done it once she can do it again. If I’d been there I would’ve let my naughty inner imp loose.

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RMMuir April 4, 2011 at 8:22 am

@Sadie: I hope you find some way of getting help. I’ve sort of been studying cognitive behavioural therapy this year, and the conclusion you’ve drawn (“one of the things I’ve feared most in the world (however irrationally) has happened … and as one commenter said, “the sun still rose the next day.””) is exactly the sort of mindset you should be trying to develop! Keep going, keep strong.

Also, I don’t know if you’ve looked at any online help like this, but this is a website developed by the NHS (British health care system) for people struggling with all sorts of problems, including social anxiety and eating disorders. http://www.moodjuice.scot.nhs.uk/index.html

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Hollanda, UK April 11, 2011 at 4:46 am

My rood boor is an acquaintance of mine, from a local pub I frequent. This “lady” in question (I use the term loosely, and you will see why in a moment) is being treated for breast cancer at the moment and is suffering. My fiance and I know her (we’ll call her M) and her husband (P) quite well. M has, in the past, made disparaging and rather rude comments to me and other people, which I have always tried to ignore as best I can and not let it get to me too much. I am 32 years old and have a mild degree of autism, which makes it hard for me to “read” people correctly all the time and so react to what other people consider “jokes” in a rather over-sensitive manner.

Anyway. Max and I were in the pub yesterday, and saw M and P. I immediately said hi to M, commented she was looking well. She looked at me and said, “You’ve put a lot of weight on. Are you pregnant?” She said it loudly enough for the whole pub to hear. I felt humiliated and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I said “No, I am not.” She said “Well you look it.” I managed to say “Thank you, M” and walked away from her, back to my FH. I think I dealt with the situation with as much dignity as I could, although half of me wanted to swipe her one (I am not a violent person!).

Even if the comment were true (I have put some weight on), I didn’t ask her for her opinion and it is not the sort of comment one makes in polite company. FH said I shouldn’t let people’s ignorance ruin my day, and do you know what? He is absolutely right!! I avoided her for the rest of the evening, reasoning that if she wanted to be like that she will end up losing any friends she has. Her loss, not ours.

I understand she is suffering, but she is just rude.

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Toya August 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

What a way to encourage a eating disorder. If OP was smart, she would have complained to management. I’m sure they would have given more (free) food and the employee would have been in trouble for discouraging people from buying more of their food.

The closest I’ve ever had to this situation is an employee at a sandwich who insisted that my sandwich combination was disgusting.

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