Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Are You Serious?" Awards - Volume LIX: The Dining Disaster Edition

"The rules are the rules, and this is the only way it is done!"  Is there any more frustrating, stubborn mentality when we are trying to foster compromise with others?  We all want exceptions made for us somewhere along the line.  Rarely will you meet another human being who is so compliant that they never think, "The rules were made for everyone else but me."  Yet, at the same time, we don't always need to be pushing the limits, trying to escape guidelines that are put in place for good reason.  Mutual respect and cooperation should be the norm.

All that being said, there are those gray areas of life where bending the rules just seems like common sense.  This week's award winners find themselves amidst just such a situation.

A couple from Missouri was recently on vacation in Wisconsin Dells with their son who has autism.  Largely tube fed, McDonald's french fries are the only food their son will consume by mouth.  This is why the couple dared to bring this one food into Marley's restaurant, where the parents wished to dine.

Unfortunately, this was not received well by the restaurant's owners.  After the parents were seated, they were told that they could not bring the french fries into the restaurant.  The owner then asked what she could do to help the family, mentioning that they had french fries on the menu at Marley's.  When the parents tried to explain that their son has special needs and would only consume the McDonald's fries, the owner was unyielding.

Photo image courtesy of phasinphoto via
At this point, things began to escalate between the family and the restaurant owner.  The father threatened to publicly post video of this owner's inflexible stance on YouTube, which then resulted in their ejection from the restaurant.

While many people would initially think, "Of course, they should be kicked out of the restaurant for bringing in outside food," the restaurant IS required to make "reasonable accommodations" according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  What those accommodations must be are very much subject to interpretation.  

What is so very disheartening in this story is that nowhere in this situation did either side take the higher ground.  While food from other places is not typically allowed in Marley's, would it have killed them to allow this small item into their restaurant this one time just to accommodate this child?  While the parents did deserve some sort of accommodation, would it have killed them to take Marley's up on the offer to try their french fries out for the son?

It seems we live in a world dominated by the attitude of entitlement coming from every direction.  That attitude can end up hurting us much more than serving us.  The parents in this story intended to make it public to build awareness, but was that truly the outcome?  It would appear that they more likely ended up only upsetting themselves and these restaurateurs with little awareness garnered.  What a sad outcome over a few french fries!

What do you think?  Leave us your opinion in the comment section below!

~ Barb Dittrich

*Source: "Restaurant responds to viral video of family kicked out: Family with autistic son says they were asked to leave; owners disagree"


  1. That's a good point Barb. As a parent of a child with special needs, I don't want to walk around with unhelpful expectations of what the world owes us. I don't know anything more about the situation you described than what I just read, so I don't think I have anything intelligent to say about that instance. But it makes me think about the fact that we want our family to be a blessing to as many other people as we can and not be a burden to the world around us (again, I'm not commenting on the family you mentioned, just reflecting on my own). There are lots of things that are more difficult for our families to do that others can just up and do. But may we find the grace to see those things as opportunities to encourage others and bless them instead of demanding something from them. Easier said than done, but you've given me a challenge. :) Now, off to a picnic where my daughther will surely put this to the test! lol!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Fred. We don't always want to have our negative attitudes pointed out. However, when we can take the high road in a situation, we keep it from escalating like this one did.

  2. I think rules can be re-negotiated, but no one likes surprises. Did the family call ahead? Or did they explain before they were seated? Or diid they just assume they could ignore the rules and demand an exception? Without all the info, I can't tell, but in general as a special needs parent I don't expect others to understand our needs without some advance warning and explanation. Then I can avoid an embarrassing scene if they aren't flexible and give my business and my $$ to someone who will work with us. I want to be treated respectfully, so I try to treat others with respect.

    1. Great thoughts, Emily. Mutual respect is the key. Too bad it seems so rare these days!