Thursday, August 22, 2013

4 Reactions to Josh

As you probably know, Josh (8y) is an outgoing, confident young man. I am always interested in seeing how other people respond to him when we're out in public. Below are a few recent examples. We usually go out on weekdays, in the mornings when the stores are not at all busy.

At a small general store, waiting in an uncommonly long checkout line. The entire storefront is windows and I can see outside:
Josh- I'm done with my snack, can you hold my trash?
Me- I'd rather not. Can you find a trash can to throw it away?
Josh- Yeah. Oh, I remember there's one right outside the entrance. Be right back.
Me- Okay.
Woman in front of me in line- Um, I think your son just went outside!
Me- He did. He's throwing some trash away.
Woman- *incredulous stare*

At the grocery store deli counter. I am picking up fruit in the adjacent area:
Josh- Excuse me. I'd like to get a pound of black forest ham please.
Deli Clerk- *leans over counter and stares at Josh* Where is your mom?
Josh- Over there getting bananas.
Deli Clerk- *to me* Is he supposed to be over here ordering ham?
Me- Yes, he's supposed to be getting whatever he wants for his sandwiches this week.
Deli Clerk- Humph!

At Target. He is in the toy section and I am browsing the itty bitty baby items directly across the main aisle:
Josh- *pushes "assistance needed" button, waits patiently*
Team Member arrives, pushes past Josh to turn off "assistance needed" button, looks around for customer.
Josh- Excuse me.
Team Member- *continues to look around, right over Josh's head*
Josh- (a little louder) Excuse me.
Team Member- Huh?
Josh- I need help looking for a particular toy.
Team Member- Ummmm, did you push the help button?
Josh- Yes, I'm looking for something particular and I can't find it. Can you look it up or help me find it if you know where it is?
Team Member- Um, Okay.

And finally at Home Depot. We need to find out how to cut our pipe for chimes. There are 3 employees at the end of the aisle we're on. Josh runs ahead to talk to them.
Josh- Excuse me, I need to know how to cut metal pipe.
Guy 1- Hey there. Well, that depends on what type of metal it is.
Josh- These two pieces right here.
Guy 2- Those are both soft metals. You can cut them with a hacksaw.
Guy 1- Do you have a hacksaw?
Josh- I think so.
Guy 3- We have a cutting station back here. I can cut it for you if you want.
Josh- Well, I'm making a chime so I'm going to need to cut lots of pieces.
Guy 3- Okay, well if you want we can do it here.
Josh- No thanks, we'll do it at home.
Guy 2- Alright then. You need anything else?
Josh- That's it. Thanks!

I know there are many factors contributing to how the people responded in the above situations. I do find it interesting and disappointing that more often than not he is treated as a second class citizen. Most people have no qualms about being rude to him but then turning to speak to me with the utmost respect (faked or genuine). People often seem to assume he is 'up to no good' and regard him suspiciously.

When children are treated as suspicious and troublesome so often, should we be at all surprised if they grow up to fulfill those roles? Or to treat others in the same ways they have been treated? What if everyone instead responded to each person, regardless of age, as if they were capable and worthy of respect?

No comments:

Post a Comment