Hello! I wanted to submit a story about an incident that occurred last week.
A bit of background first. The company I work for provides lunch for employees daily as a benefit. This is beneficial for us because it means lunch is free and we needn’t go out; and for them because it means we generally work whilst eating our lunch.
Due to limitations caused by my Celiac Disease, I cannot always eat the lunch provided. There are many options, but sometimes none of those options are suitable or even something to make an entire meal out of. On those days, I have a snack instead of lunch (I keep my own snacks at my desk) or I walk over to the large, chain organic store down the street from the office to grab a sandwich. Their meat is safe for me to eat, and gluten free bread is one of their options so it’s a nice treat from time to time when I’m tired of salad.
On this particular day, I have waited in line patiently so that I can place an order. When my turn comes, I mention my need for the gluten free bread and then give my selections. The man behind the counter is sympathetic and we strike up a friendly conversation about how wonderful the other breads look and how I wish I could have some. As we do, a man having a loud conversation on his cell phone steps up behind me. I do my best to ignore his phone call even though I can clearly hear the person on the other side of the conversation. He is asked where he is, and he says he’s at the store.
“I’m ordering one of my healthy sandwiches. Whole grain and hummus. Yep, that’s all. So healthy, right?”
I see the man making my sandwich smirk slightly but he doesn’t look up.
“Yeah, I know, I mean, I’m watching what I’m eating,” said as he suddenly leans forward toward my ear and says, loudly enough for several people to hear, “…unlike SOME people here.”
I am taken aback by the sheer audacity and rudeness but say nothing, hoping that he was referencing someone else he and his phone companion know and the lean was an accident. But it was not to be. “There’s this chick in front of me ordering this massive sandwich. No one needs that much food, but SHE especially does not. I mean, really!”
I say nothing, though I am sorely tempted to turn around and say to him, just as loudly, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that an ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure? You look like you could be rid of about 200lbs of it.” However, I do not. I will not fight rudeness with rudeness. I am, however, very self conscious now thanks to this man’s assumption and passive aggressive attempt at weight-shaming.
The man making my sandwich has paused, a look of incredulity on his face. He then looks at me and says, loudly enough for the man to hear, “I know the gluten free bread is really, really small. It makes a normal sandwich look huge when, really, it would be fine on normal bread. I’m sorry that, due to your health, you can’t have the normal stuff ma’am.” He then hands me my sandwich, and I thank him and head back to the office.
But I wonder, what in the world makes people think this sort of behavior is acceptable? Who are you to criticize the food choices of a stranger, when you don’t know why they’re making them? Maybe, like me, they haven’t much choice. Not to mention the fact that you would do it in such a horrible way. If I was smaller, would he have said the same things?
As I stated above, I said nothing, but is that the right thing? What, if anything, is the right thing to say in such a situation? 0717-13
This is a classic example of how people are not stupid and need no help in recognizing rude boors. In other words, we really do not need to respond to rude boors to make sure everyone in hearing distance knows, for certain, that this is a boor. Boors are their own walking advertisements if we let them and Mr. Cell Phone Guy does a spectacular performance as the store’s boor du jour. The employee got it and did as much as he could within his role of serving to mitigate the awkwardness.
If one must say something, the ornery side of me might have whipped out my camera phone, started recording and said, “Oh, PLEASE! Repeat that again! I need to submit this to Etiquette Hell and let it go viral,” or, “Smile! You’re going viral!” All done with an appropriately thrilled demeanor as if I had just stumbled onto a gold mine.