When I was in grade school, we went to Colonial Williamsburg every year for a class trip. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate the history and the culture of the times, or perhaps it’s because I had the emotional maturity of a small gnat, but all I remember is being bored to tears. Now here I am 40 years later and I have no memory of the place. I don’t think another 11-year-old with celiac will ever forget his visit there. And for all the wrong reasons.
Let me set the stage for you (or you can read the gory details here.) The 11-year-old has either celiac or NCGS. Either way, he can’t eat gluten. At all. If he does, he experiences “precipitous drops in blood pressure that result in him losing consciousness.” Yeah…pretty serious shit.
On May 11, the class had a field trip, with 30 children and 30 adults, including the boy’s father. (Is it me or does that seem like a lot of adults/chaperones? Oh well…I guess times have changed.) The trip, which was was the culmination of a yearlong research project, included lunch at Shields Tavern. Because the boy had celiac, the father smartly brought food from home so the boy could enjoy lunch with his peers.
Do you see where this is going?
The dad told the server that his son could not safely eat the restaurant’s food and that he did not need a meal. He then proceeded to pull out his own lunch. An employee at Shields, who must be a miserable slug to treat someone else like this, saying they could not stay if the boy was going to eat his own food and were told to leave immediately. The dad appealed to the manager, who must also be a miserable slug who just gets paid a bit more, said nope. Out you go.
The boy began crying AS HE WAS REMOVED FROM THE RESTAURANT IN FRONT OF HIS FRIENDS. He was then forced to wait outside, IN THE F***CKING RAIN, while his classmates ate their meals. And here’s the topper: The restaurant allows toddlers to eat their own food that their parents bring. But not middle-schoolers I suppose. No words. Absolutely no words.
The father is now suing. His attorney made the following statement:
Children with disabilities that require strict adherence to special diets often find themselves on the outside of school parties and social events, but here this child was quite literally removed to the outside in a way that left him feeling humiliated and unworthy. This is despicable behavior by any adult but especially by an organization that professes to offer educational programming for children.
A few quick thoughts here:
- The article just spoke from the father’s view point. I’m sure he’s telling the truth but would love to hear from the restaurant to see what their
- Assuming this is all accurate, I hope they get something from the lawsuit. While lord knows there are tons of frivolous lawsuits out there, this one has merit, as it was totally avoidable.
- Who the hell does this? Who makes a kid sit in the rain (assuming there was not other covered area to eat) simply because he brought his own food? Is celiac disease still that disrespected?
- Shields is getting their ass handed to them on Facebook, Yelp, etc. People applying their own justice (insert evil laugh here.)
- Feel free to respectfully let them know how you feel so they will think twice next time.
Ok…I could end things here, but since the article generated a lot of comments (which I probably should not have read), I thought I’d call some of them out, both the good and the ignorant.
I like this person: The boy should have been able to eat the food inside the restaurant that he has to have, instead of being sent out in the rain!!! Despicable!
This one not so much: How about we realize that this whole gluten allergy thing is made up nonsense that just came about recently…let’s grow up people.
This person doesn’t quite understand: Why not just order something off of the menu that has no gluten in it? There is a 90 percent chance that there were multiple menu options available.
This person is the worst: Aaawwwww…..life is hard and u r going to have to deal with all sorts of disrespect so this is a good beginning…sorry sweetheart.
(Dude note: This is the kind of person who pummeled me after the Disney fiasco, saying we’re causing “the pussification of Ammerica.”)
This one gets it: It’s interesting how many people think the child should have accommodated the restaurant rather than the restaurant accommodating the child. Oh and so many medical experts as well.
I hate this person: Not a penny for the crying 11 year old and loser family.
This person is confused: Put up a sign “No outside food — No exceptions” and be done with it. I wouldn’t enter a synagogue and expect a Christmas midnight high mass.
This person represents the lowest our country has to offer: How about this one…. don’t enter a cake shop and demand they make a bunt cake with figurine of two guys in the middle of the bunt hole.
This one made me shake my head until it almost fell off: Gluten doesn’t happen unless you knead dough. Even pancakes have little if any gluten if you don’t mix it a lot.
And finally…this person gives me hope: What a lot of people don’t understand here, is that cross-contamination is a serious thing for someone with a gluten intolerance. If the management of the restaurant has admitted that they allowed small children to eat ‘outside food’, and there is an adult there with clear knowledge and understanding of the child’s ailment, the management needs to be a little flexible. Seriously? You’re going to be known as “That Restaurant That Kicked The Allergic Kid Out In The Rain”. The old adage “all PR is good PR” doesn’t pertain to restaurants. That management needs to cowboy up, apologize, and be willing to make exceptions, perhaps stating somewhere on the premises that exceptions will be made only with a medical card present, or get with the times and have a gluten-free food prep area.
Hope is a good thing…maybe the best of things.