The encounter that I feared I’d run into after my diagnosis, happened. The rudeness, the judgmental look, questioning my disease; yeah that! That’s what I feared. “How can I help you?” I was greeted with at the counter. “I was wondering if your smoothies were gluten free?” I curiously asked. “Well yeah of course they are. It’s just fruit and yogurt.” She said with a drastic tone change from the friendly hello I was first met with.
Okay pause the story right here…I must set the scene a bit so you can fully grasp my upset and overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling I felt as her tone changed. As she said, “well yeah of course they are. It’s just fruit and yogurt.” Picture her expression…attitude all over her face, looking me up and down, with those highly intense judging eyes. Looking at me like, she’s already thin, of course she’s avoiding gluten so she can “stay skinny.” Okay now that you have a good picture of what I observed, back to the story….
I said to her, “well I have Celiac disease so I need to make sure your items are free from gluten or I could get sick. So, I just wanted to make sure I would be safe with the smoothies.”
She responded with continued attitude despite the composure I maintained, “well there are different degrees of Celiac so how am I supposed to know if you need to avoid it completely including cross contamination? Some people can’t even breathe it in.”
So now I’m getting upset. In my mind I have done nothing wrong. I have simply asked if something was gluten free and was immediately judged and questioned, so I didn’t feel like keeping my composure anymore. I didn’t want to be treated like garbage for just being me. Besides, I didn’t really understand her response. I said nothing to her about my degree of Celiac and “how sick I’d be” or anything about “breathing in gluten.” In fact, side note…there are not “degrees of Celiac.” You cannot be sort of Celiac. Just like you cannot be “sort of pregnant.” If you have Celiac, you cannot have any gluten..period! I simply wanted to know if the smoothies were gluten free. It is my decision if I want to then order a smoothie based on you telling me if it was gluten free or not.
Instead of fighting back, I started getting defensive and I told her, “forget it. I just won’t get anything.” She then said, “maybe I should get someone else to help.” I said, “I think that’s a great idea.”
Luckily for me, I was with a friend when this happened. As I was getting a table for us, my friend was ordering and spoke to the manager on my behalf telling her about my unpleasant experience. The manager did come to the table to tell me she was sorry I went through that. She said the employee was having a bad day and took it out on me. She was sorry I was treated poorly.
I was grateful to the manager for her apology. While the apology helped a little, it didn’t make the pain of my experience and poor treatment go away completely. I get it, we all have bad days. I have plenty of bad days! When someone has a bad day, it does not give them the right to treat someone so nasty. Especially when someone is asking questions to protect themselves from getting sick due to their illness. This happened only a short month after my diagnosis. I was still a scared little girl not knowing much about what to eat and not eat and how careful I needed to be with eating out. For a very long time I have felt lonely with this disease. I still do at times, despite the tremendous amount of love and support around me with my family and friends. To be adjudicated, about who you are, just makes those feelings, the lonely feelings, come to the surface once again.
I recently heard this quote, “someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” This is so true. I’m sure it will get better over time. I’ll brush it off quicker. I’ll have smartass comebacks ready to throw at those that unkindly judge me. Or maybe I’ll simply be so strong that those unkind comments will go in one ear and out the other because I don’t need to stoop to their low level. At the end of the day, I must move on and not let negative people affect me. It sure can be damn hard to not let the negativity affect you but surrounding yourself with positive people helps remind you that even after a rainstorm there is sunshine and a beautiful rainbow waiting to enjoy!
“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”