Senseless Sensitivity

| North West, UK | Working | July 9, 2013

(A regular patron of mine has severe difficulty walking and uses crutches. I’m friendly with him so he comes over to say hello, we have a little talk and he heads on inside happy as usual. Shortly afterward, my supervisor calls me into the back office. He looks angry.)

Supervisor: “We’ve had a complaint about your behaviour.”

Me: “Oh, really? What’s wrong?”

Supervisor: “You mocked a disabled customer and called him a derogatory slur.”

Me: “I… what? We talk all the time; there’s never been a problem. Did he complain? What was the slur?”

(My supervisor squirms uncomfortably.)

Supervisor: “Well, there wasn’t any actual complaint. I was passing, and I thought it really sarcastic and rude that you called him ‘Mr. Walker’ when he’s disabled. Why would you call him that?”

(I can’t help it; I let out a short laugh.)

Supervisor: “This isn’t a laughing matter! I could have you fired for this.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I see where you’re coming from. No, that’s his actual name: Mr. [first name] Walker.”

Supervisor: “…Couldn’t you call him something else?”

Me: “Something that’s not his name? I’m afraid he doesn’t like being called ‘sir’, or by his first name.”

Supervisor: “Could you not call him anything at all?”

Me: “I don’t understand. Like, ‘Hey, you’, or just ignore him completely?”

Supervisor: “Yes. Either of those.”

Me: “…”

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