When Equal Employment Opportunity Goes Wrong

This post may seem like I’m being a jerk. And in some part I will agree. But I just want it known that ultimately the individual(s) who put this gentleman in this position are the true jerks.

The following is a 100% true story and it took place on Friday, August 16, 2013.

The scene? Downtown Los Angeles in the Department of Transportation headquarters, otherwise known as the DOT Building.

On Friday, I decided to eat lunch there. As is customary, you walk up to the guys at the grill, tell them what you want, they print out a ticket that you then take to the cashier where, of course, you pay.

Everything was moving according to plan. I had my ticket, went over to get my drink and filled it up using my recipe: one quarter fruit punch, one quarter sierra mist, one quarter fruit punch, one quarter sierra mist, no ice.

I get to the cashier and the very nice gentleman said to me “may I help you please”. The only problem was I was standing right next to him but he was looking straight ahead.

I said “here’s my ticket” and I noticed it kind of startled him. I looked at his eyes and they were all over the place and it seemed like they couldn’t stay fixated on any one thing. Clearly this guy did not have marginal visual impairment, he was blind as a bat!

Let me pause for a second. I am not a monster or anyone’s judge. I am not making fun of the fact that this man can’t see. I’m merely pointing out the irony considering his particular profession. Sure, it’s probably better than him being in the kitchen. But still. Cashier?

Before I could say or do anything he asked me what the ticket says because he can’t see, proving not only is he blind but he’s also apparently a master of pointing out the obvious.

I must confess that at this moment, despite going to a training at work on Ethics in July, it was very difficult to not tell him my ticket was $1.39. Not like he would know. I mean, come on how often do you get to name your own price for lunch?

Despite my desire to I resist the temptation. I tell him the correct amount. It’s $7.95 on the ticket. Then he asked “anything else?”.

(sigh) Oh boy. Okay, okay. I didn’t get a $2 lunch, but hey a free drink sounds like a good deal. What about this gum I have too? They shouldn’t be charging $1.50 for it anyway. What to do. Curse those DOT people for hiring this man and putting me in this position.

I again decide to do the right thing. I tell him I have a regular drink and a pack of gum. He then asked me what the total said on the register. This one wasn’t hard since he had to put in the prices manually when I told him what I had. Plus I ruined any chance of a substantial Stevie Wonder discount when I told him my ticket was $7.95. So I figure I’m safe. No more temptation. I’m good. I hand him a $20 bill and breathe a sigh of relief. Then he said….

“How much is this?”

Dear God, why do you torture me so with these ethical tests? Yes I get that I’m supposed to stay on the right path and live my life honestly, but may I point out that it was probably one of your beloved children who proclaimed ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. Well, I’ve got an argument for otherwise. You know as well as I do that they had no business hiring this man as a cashier. Amen.

“It’s a 20”, I reply reluctantly knowing it’s the right thing to blah blah blah.

He then gives me the correct change, I’m guessing because he knows the order of the bills in the register. I thank the admittedly very nice man and even had a part of my heart tweak a little when he said “may I help you please” to the person behind me as I had to tell him there was no one there.

I go back to the grill and wait for my food. Normally what happens is the cashier stamps the receipt with a Paid stamp and you give the receipt back to the grill guys in exchange for your food.

When he gave me my food I handed him the receipt and told him it wasn’t stamped but I did pay for it. With all of this ethical temptation going on I needed him and anyone within ear shot to know! I almost said “and I paid the correct amount too”.

My goal wasn’t to get anyone in trouble. It was just to say hey I paid, I’m a good guy and I want to go to Heaven. Now give me my food and I’ll go celebrate my victory over temptation in peace.

He looked at the ticket for a minute and then yelled out in an irritated manner, “hey (whatever the cashier’s name was) you have to make sure you stamp the ticket paid”.

Really? Either he’s been forgetting to do it all day in which case why say something now, or he has been stamping it all day and he forgot one. Either way leave the man alone! He’s a blind cashier for crying out loud.

So the cashier says “which one?”.

The grill guy says “the chicken sandw-”

I interrupt, “well, he can’t see what it says on-”

The cashier interrupts, “the $7.95?”

Grill guy: Yeah

Cashier: Ok

They both get back to work.

And I’m standing in the middle thinking yeah, like THAT was the big problem here. Feel free to name your own price and tell him you gave him a $20 when you really gave him a $5 and get change. But this man had better make sure to stamp the receipt.