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GF Chutzpah: “I want to speak to the manager”

January 23rd, 2008 by Mandy

Brandi’s rant (You’re celiac… how about a sandwich?) reminded me of an article that I read recently in New York Times Magazine by Paul Mercurio called, “Consumer Man.”

“I’m one of those people who yell at store clerks. Not just any store clerks, but the ones who are rude, incompetent or indifferent. In other words, all store clerks. I’m the guy who always has to speak to the manager. In my head, I’m “Consumer Man”: a superhero fighting on behalf of oppressed consumers the world over. In my wife’s head, I’m crazy.”

In the article, he almost gets into a fist fight with a store clerk when he won’t give him a plastic bag for his newspaper. Eventually, the police come and issue him a summons because he drops his pants during the argument… it’s a good one, highly worth the read. Anyway, when I read his article I thought about all the times I’ve been to a restaurant and I haven’t really had the chutzpah to handle the whole allergy thing properly. Instead of explaining it in depth, I order what I think will be safe, without asking too many questions. Needless to say this backfires sometimes, when I don’t bother to ask about dressing or something. You’d think I’d learn my lesson–I don’t!

Or maybe I might try to make a couple of little changes, (“can I get fruit or bacon instead of toast,” “no croutons,” etc.), but sometimes they forget. And when that happens, I’ve never been the one to send something back to the kitchen. I hate to see food go to waste, and I swear it will come back with an extra side of spit that I didn’t order. I hate to inconvenience people, even when it is their job to put up with my inconveniences. So I wind up picking the croutons out of my salad, or I quietly remove the bun from the hamburger when the server forgets.

To put it bluntly, I’m a complete pushover. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think in our situation, we have to be a little more high maintenance to make sure we get exactly what we want.

If we don’t take the time to explain ourselves, then being a Glutie won’t get any easier. Every time we go to a restaurant, we have an opportunity to instruct another person–be it waiter, chef, whoever–on what it means to eat what we eat and live the way we live. If I go to a restaurant and explain what I need, maybe the next time one of you visit the restaurant, you won’t have to. Maybe eventually more restaurants will come to understand what it is like to live with a food allergy/intolerance, and more will develop special menus to accommodate. And so I’d like to challenge all of the DCGluties to make a point from now on to try to find the chutzpah to say what we want. What we need. And maybe restaurants will become a friendlier place for all of us to eat.



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