How often, if you are blind, has a member of a restaurant’s wait staff asked your sighted companion what you would like to eat or drink? While it’s safe to assume that the wait staff is at least reasonably intelligent, some of them act as if you can’t answer the question yourself. I have had this unfortunate experience happen to me on several occasions, and whenever the waitress asks my sighted companion what I would like, I answer her.
This experience is popular–in fact, popular enough that it appeared in a public service announcement for the American Council of the Blind nearly 30 years ago. Being that most of us have had an experience like this at a restaurant, why do you suppose this happens? What makes wait staff all over the country think that they can’t ask you a direct question about your food preference? I don’t want to believe that they think that all blind people can’t hear or speak. I am having trouble thinking that restaurant employees would act this way if they have some form of common sense.
Could it be fear? Is it possible that these people are afraid to talk to someone who is blind? If so, why? What is it about the blind that strike fear in a waiter or waitress? We eat like the sighted, drink like the sighted, and pick up the tab and tip like the sighted.
Also, have you noticed that when some waiters or waitresses actually speak to you as a blind individual, they raise their voices? Do we need to keep reminding them that our only problem is lack of vision, which does not affect our perceptions or desires, and that it doesn’t affect our hearing either?
I would like to hear about your experience in the Reader’s Forum, and how you decided to handle it. I’m sure I will hear many interesting stories about those types of wait staff members. With all that said, there are those restaurant employees who do treat us as normal human beings, and for that, I am extremely grateful.