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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bow and Fast Food

Yesterday was my day off. I actually only took half a day, starting at 1:00pm, but Sword and I managed to cram a lot into the time we had. Meanwhile, Bow enjoyed his day with Lawrence. He also got to socialize a little with the delivery lady and her daughter. So he had more than his share of excitement, too.

When I returned, I brought Bow a strawberry milkshake from Hardee's. That made him very happy!


Bow knows exactly what to do with a milkshake. For as long as he can, he will slurp it up from the straw.


Then, when that no longer works so well, he will start to use the straw as a spoon, to get out some hard to reach solid bits.


After that, he will try to tip it so that even the last drop of liquid can reach his mouth.


And when all else fails, he even knows how to remove the bubble guard for an unobstructed path into the very heart of the cup.


While we don't have fast food often, Bow is familiar with all the chains, and he even has experience dining out. He has not been locked up all his life. He knows quite a bit about the world outside.

When Bow was little, I used to travel to a linguistics conference every other year, and I took him and Sword with me when I went. Naturally, we could not fly, so we drove, and on the way we stopped by at many fast food chains and  individually owned restaurants. To this day, I still remember the little mom and pop diners as the most hospitable.

When Bow was an infant, I could take him in to any eatery, lying in his car seat and with a blanket covering his person. People were nice. Some even would approach us and ask: "How old is your little girl? How old is the baby?" If the blanket slipped a little and they caught sight of something dark underneath, they probably thought I had a mixed race baby and said nothing about it.

But by the time Bow was a year old, it was already not so easy. And it was not on account of Bow. He was perfectly well behaved, clinging to me when we were out among strangers, and not bothering anyone else. It was just that it was no longer possible to hide the fact that he was not a human. And that's where laws and company policy suddenly kicked into place.

A private person can make case by case decisions. A government entity or a corporation cannot. They have policies in place, and their employees are not free to deviate from those policies. The day came when we were told we could not enter a McDonald's.  We were on the road, we were hungry, we needed to use the restroom, and I could not leave Bow alone in the car. But we were told in no uncertain terms that we were not allowed in, as long as Bow was with us.

I remember some other fast food chain on that same trip where my daughter started crying when we were told we could not come in and eat, and then when we stood outside eating our food, the employees came out and gaped at us and one of them asked me if Bow was mean. Bow was clinging to me, afraid of them. "No, he's not mean," I told the girl. "You're mean!"

We learned to avoid these situations, by going through the drive through and then eating the food at a rest stop,  but at the time, when it first happened to us,   it was a jarring realization. I felt as if we had suddenly gone back in time and were living under Jim Crow.

Mind you, I support the right of private people to discriminate. I think it's stupid, and it does not pay off, but it's their right. It should be their right, if it is their business. If you own a restaurant and you hate redheads and refuse to serve them, then go ahead. See how fast your business goes down in smoke because of your prejudice. But in my experience, it's not private people who discriminate the most. It's government entities and corporations, because their rigid policies can't distinguish between a rabid dog and a family pet, a feral cat and a domesticated one, a dangerous out-of-control chimpanzee and one that is too small and helpless to do anyone any harm. A dog is a dog and they are not allowed. A chimp is a chimp, no matter how small.

So it was a real joy, when on that same trip, we came upon a mom and pop restaurant where everyone was thrilled to have Bow as a diner. We checked first. We asked. And they said: "You have a chimp? Oh, please do bring him in!" And they catered to our every need, and treated Bow as a guest of honor, and when I asked for orange juice that he could drink through a straw, they stood at a respectful distance, delighted to see what a well mannered diner they had at their restaurant.

Private enterprise is a wonderful thing! It's not just for making money. It's also for civility and courtesy and  good will to all. I just wish we had more private businesses like that, and fewer entities protected by government rules. And to the extent that a whole county is against non-human primates, like Greene County, MO or a even a whole state, like Ohio, it's good that there are other counties and other states that can compete with them for residents and tax dollars. The best way to weed out bad laws and bad policies is to keep those laws from being uniform across an entire country. Rather than solving the problems centrally, we should allow local competition to do its work.

2 comments:

  1. People like the stare at others and make comments because I think they are bored. I always wondered why people felt comfortable saying certain things out loud. I have had grown men come up to me and tell me how they did not like the way my hair was parted. I always liked eating at the small mom and pop places because the atmosphere often more friendly. The people who work there feel more invested in the service, and not just like they have to be there. Glad you found one place where Bow was welcomed.

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    1. It's true people sometimes make very strange comments. I can't imagine why anyone would go up to a stranger and complain about how they part their hair. But thankfully there are also a lot of good people in the world, and that includes the owners of mom and pop restaurants who go out of their way to treat customers well. People like that make up for the other kind. We just need a society in which there are more of them, because that kind of behavior pays off.

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