Wednesday, August 8, 2012

So One Afternoon

The recent back and forth over Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy donating heavily to anti-LGBT groups has led me think I may be the only person in the country who doesn’t like CfA’s chicken sandwiches. Actually, I don’t dislike them, I just don’t find them irresistible. So far as I know, I have only eaten there once, about 6 months ago when we got a coupon for the franchise nearest us. I honestly don’t even remember what the sandwich tasted like, other than, of course, it tasted like chicken. So boycotting CfA is not exactly a political act on my part, it’s my default mode, if anyone can be said to be boycotting a business she doesn’t frequent because she doesn’t need the product.

I know they also have waffle fries, but so does Back Yard Burgers, which is practically in my backyard, seeing as how it’s across the main street to my subdivision. Back Yard Burgers also has sweet potato fries, which I like much better.

For chicken, though, my husband and I prefer Popeye’s, which is also practically in my backyard, being two blocks from Back Yard Burgers. It's his favorite, but my favorite is Raising Cane’s.

That leads me to the actual point of this post, which is to tell a terrific story about Cane’s (as we call it around here).  

The children’s rehabilitation center where I worked before I retired does a lot of therapy groups in the summer, including what we called Functional Life Skills groups. The physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists would plan our therapy around group activities in which children learned how to use a calendar, or make change, or cook meals, or other functional life skills. One year we had a group of children, many of whom used augmentative communication devices, who were working toward going out for a meal at a local restaurant. That meant that group activities involved selecting a place to go (taking turns, taking a vote, accepting majority rule), reading a menu and calculating how much the meal would cost, learning about currency (how many pennies make a nickel, how many nickels make a dime, etc) practicing how to order.  (In later years we had a group assemble and sell trail mix to raise money for their food.) We had vocabulary activities, gross motor games, fine motor games (a money lotto game for instance), and then finally, the big visit to Cane’s.

We went in the mid-afternoon. This being summer, most of the workers were late high school and early college age students. They were, in an overworked word, awesome. So were our kids, but we had been preparing them all summer for the big event. The Cane’s workers, on the other hand, probably didn’t have groups of largely non-verbal children with walkers and wheelchairs dropping in every day and ordering with posters and electronic devices*. Nonetheless, they were perfect. The Cane’s staff knew to talk to the children as they ordered, not the adults standing next to them, and they were friendly but not patronizing. They checked with us several times to make sure everything was all right, (of course, it was mid-afternoon and we were practically the only people there) and there again, they talked to the kids who were their customers, not just the adults in attendance.

Naturally we sent a glowing letter of thanks and praise the next day.

So even if Raising Cane’s did not have Cane’s sauce and the best lemonade and sweet tea anywhere, I would be a big Cane’s fan just because one summer afternoon,  they treated a marginalized group of people who were used to being ignored and patronized like the regular people they are.

And that’s what everyone really wants.

*OTOH, a lot of high schools in the area have community service requirements for their students, so maybe they did have some experience with special needs kids.

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