The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

February 12, 2013

Jim Bailey: Waiter reserved right to refuse service to bigoted customer

Tradition in the retail service industry is that the customer is always right. Waiter Michael Garcia withheld service from a customer at a Houston, Texas, restaurant recently. Such an act could have cost him his job. In this case it made him a hero.

The Castillo family are regulars at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib in Houston. Their little boy has Down syndrome. As several waiters stopped by their booth, Milo, 5, showed off the new words he was starting to master and talked about his birthday a week earlier.

Promptly a family at a nearby table called over Garcia, asking to move to another location. “I heard the man say, ‘Special needs children need to be special somewhere else,’” Garcia told a TV reporter.

At that point Garcia’s personal feelings took over.

“I told him, ‘I’m not going to be able to serve you, sir. … How could you say that? How could you say that about a beautiful 5-year-old angel?’” Garcia told the TV reporter.

Special needs children (the preferred term these days for what used to be referred to somewhat disparagingly as retarded) look and sound different. Obviously it bothers some people who may be wrapped up in their own little world where everyone is expected to be perfect and just like everyone else.

By and large, my experience has been that those with Down syndrome are both loving and lovable, often better behaved than so-called normal children. A generation or two ago, conventional wisdom used to be that parents were encouraged to put them away somewhere in an institution and go on without them. Thankfully, we have discovered even the developmentally disabled can contribute to society. In fact, many restaurants, including several in Anderson, have found that people with special needs make good workers and are increasingly employing them.

In an online post Kim Castillo said she has been taking Milo out to eat since he was born and that he is better behaved than most children. “Was he loud?” she wrote. “Maybe a little in the moment, but honestly, the adults at our table were three times louder than he was.”

The restaurant stood up for Garcia on its Facebook page and elsewhere, and reports are that business at Laurenzo’s has actually increased. “People are coming in to shake his hand and eat at our restaurant and loving it,” said the Castillos’ regular server, Candace Roberts.

It is obvious not all restaurant patrons don’t want to be disturbed by people who are different. A family I know is a case in point. Their oldest child was completely immobilized by a birth injury, and they have had similar experiences. On one occasion, however, when they were having a difficult time at a restaurant, they went to pay their tab and were informed an anonymous stranger had already paid for the meal.

Bigotry takes many forms. So does love.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Have you been to Mounds Mall to see the “Imagine Mounds Lake” display?

Yes, and it solidified my support
Yes, but I'm still opposed
No
     View Results