What Was His Name?

Disabled man at McDonald's

This is an interesting post on Facebook by a friend of a friend of mine.  The author’s name is Dany Holmes.  I apologize if any of you are offended by her use of language, but I can’t say I disagree with her sentiment.

A man with a disability went into McDonald’s and purchased a meal.  He asked a man on staff to help him cut his food so he could eat.  The man on staff closed the register and did so.  It was a nice gesture, a “random act of kindness.”  He served one of his customers in a way that  he does not do every day.  A witness took a picture on her phone.  The story went viral.

Speaking for myself, I get a bit tired sometimes of people making the news because they were nice to people with disabilities.  In my opinion, nobody should be called a hero for showing another human being compassion.  I would be willing to bet the man felt awkward and frustrated because he had to ask for help.  As a person with a disability, in my experience, it can be a nightmare to ask for what you need.  But he summoned the courage to do it.  And nobody has tried to find out his name.

Ms.  Holmes expressed it better than I can.  Her post follows:

“Let me explain ableism to you.

A disabled man goes into a McDonalds to eat. He orders his food. He asks the cashier ‘Please help me, help me please’. The cashier closes the till and helps the man eat. Someone witnesses this moment and posts it online.

– The name of the witness is in every article. People strived to find the full name of the cashier, and now that is in every article.

– People are calling for the cashier to get a raise for his act of kindness

– General merrymaking and back patting, oh how wonderful acts of kindness are, much praise for this cashier, much praise for yourself because of course, you are that kind too.

Really, what a lovely world we live in, we all say.

But then

– The name of the disabled man is not mentioned. Has anyone bothered to find out? Tell me, whats the name of the human being at the centre of this story? Because I can’t fucking find it.

– Why is no one calling for a raise to this man’s welfare, benefits or financial help in general so he can afford a carer to help him eat if he wishes to.. which is a possibility that he may wish to, so he doesn’t have to go and say ‘Please help me’ to the nearest person when he wants to eat? What about the plethora of others in his exact position? Are we going to discuss their need for a raise, or do they not ‘deserve’ it like the cashier.. because they cannot cut food, and he can?

– Would they have helped him eat if he couldn’t afford to eat?

– Through all the back patting, who is considering accessibility to disabled people in general, in this situation? Surely it has pointed out many issues. Why are we ignoring those and pretending it’s such a lovely world?

– Why are we acting as if this man getting to eat was a result of someone going above and beyond? Does he not basically deserve to eat, so if he gets to eat, it’s some huge deal? A huge favour? Such a big kindness, that we did not let this disabled man starve because he could not cut his food?

This is ableism. This disabled man has become a prop for your good fuzzy feels. He is nameless. Is he even a man to you? Or just ‘disabled’. A background character in this inspirational story, asking ‘please help me eat. please help me fill my belly. please help me with this basic survival need’, while all your attention is on a man who cut some food?

I refuse to celebrate this. I refuse to be okay with anyone celebrating this without really thinking about what’s actually going on here.

Why should we have to beg to eat?

Are we people? Ask yourself, do you think we are fucking people?

What are we worth?”

 Ms. Holmes words made me think.  What about you?
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This entry was posted in Ableism, Attitudes, compassion, definition of a hero, fast food, Helping people with disabilities, McDonalds, negative perceptions, News, Society and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Was His Name?

  1. DeeScribes says:

    I do not dispute the gesture was kind and compassionate. But as I have said multiple times, why should someone be forced to ask a stranger to perform a basic need?! Yes, shutting down the register and helping him was very kind. But what does it say about our society when someone must depend on the kindness of strangers in order to eat? What about when he needs to use the toilet? Or shower? And what was his name and did he want his photo shared? All important questions. Thank you for sharing and (hopefully) making others think.

  2. Dot Nary says:

    Well done! People want to be compassionate but sometimes they ignore very basic issues of dignity and equality for people with disabilities, that they would not ignore for people who are not disabled. Thanks for using this incident as an opportunity to educate!

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