The traumatic incident, NIAM BUDDED IN LINE, STOLE A FRENCH FRY AND THE MEDICS WERE CALLED , occurred a few weeks ago,
and to my dismay, a post that was intended to be a mother’s rant, ended up to be one of my most controversial blogs of all time, attracting trollers, parenting haters and, sympathetic readers, I was shocked at the number of hits and comments this post received, some accusing me of bad parenting skills, lucky for me I have thick skin, I am a strong advocate, not one to be intimidated, and to those who know me well, I really don’t care what people think, I have always lived my life on my own terms.
The upper management of the cafeteria invited me for a meeting, I brought Niam with me, and to my delight he was an angel the entire time, I came prepared with my usual speech on Autism Awareness, advocacy, accommodation, none of which was necessary, I was pleasantly surprised with the meeting starting off with an apology. The open meeting ensued with us covering many topics from the incident,
1. Why was Niam not served – he has an account at the place , they know him
2. At first the staff said they were too busy too find us, the story later changed to they did look for us but could not find my son or myself, a remark not making sense as both of us were on the premises
3. If the Medics were called, why was Niam not attended too, in a medical emergency, the person in question is not left alone.
All points were taken well, discussed and we all agreed the situation was blown out of proportion and could have been handled better. Upper Management was open to receiving materials on Autism to better educate their staff, in my eyes the meeting could not have been better, it ended off with happy handshakes and smiles.
Later that same week, we visited the cafeteria again, I sent Niam to order, this time I discretely watched from the corner, Niam did everything right, he picked up a tray, stood in line, and ordered, and you will not believe, he was refused, the cashier saying to Niam “Wait for your mother”, I was shocked, my shock was turning to anger, I kept my feelings hidden, the focus of my attention was my son, I quickly jumped in, made sure the order took place, sat Niam down to eat, and went back to question the cashier, “Why is Niam not being served?, Why are you refusing him – he has an account” Her surprising response was, “I will let the Manager know”, even an uneducated person can decipher, this is a direct order from the Manager of the cafeteria, and this person is making their own decisions and not following the rules of upper management. There was no disputing what had happened this time, I saw the entire incident, which leaves to question, what really transpired the last time, do I believe the Manager’s accounts of events?
Not one to sit back, I immediately seeked out upper management, my question was direct and to the point, “Why was he refused? Is it because he has special needs? Why are the other children who have accounts served and not told ” Wait For Your Mother””
Without going into a long story, the end result was, the Manager, was directly told, my son has to be served and treated like any other person, additional accommodations were put in place, such as, if for some reason the cashier does not understand him, they can directly bill any member of the family and let him buy what he wants, if clarity of speech is an issue, a menu can be provided by the cashier for Niam to point at what he wants ( he can read), or if there is ever an issue and we are not in plain site for some reason, staff will find us, as we are always close by, if you remember in the previous post, my son and I were present, just not in eye’s view to the events.
To all the Trollers out there who thought I was a bad parent for expecting my son to be accommodated, I will say it again, yes I do have an expectation of accommodation from society and businesses, I would hope human kindness is not a trait we have to demand as we move into the 21 first century. From a business perspective, with almost 2% of the worlds population with Autism, add in the number of persons with other special needs, seniors with first stage Alzheimer’s or other medical issues: awareness, accommodation and compassion must be part of the definition for customer service, businesses must look at the changing demographics to be able to better serve and target the new population, or be prepared to loose a large market share and, perhaps even be the focus of bad publicity.
For those of you who want to learn from other expert businesses who have embraced this definition of customer service, check out this great post, – THANK YOU FOR YEARS OF KINDNESS TO LA VECCHIA.
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