As you may already know, I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury, which has caused structural changes to the neural pathways in my brain, and resulted in lasting changes to my personality. Namely my ‘executive function.’ This is the ability your brain has to schedule tasks, organise your life and respond appropriately to any given situation. 99% of the time, my impaired executive function causes no issues. I use a calendar, reminders in my phone and a healthy dose of self restraint to ensure I don’t offend, upset or ignore the needs of others. I have received a lot of encouragement and support from a large group of f riends, both new and old, since sharing the story of my accident, seperation and ongoing challenges life has thrown at me since I fell off a balcony a few years ago.
For this I am eternally grateful. I could choose to become reclusive, stay silent and deal with my issues alone, in fear of the judgement that may be directed towards me for the chouces I have made. Or, I could do as I have done. I can live in hope that the understanding and compassion that we all harbour for our fellow man will triumph over the loss of social esteem that sharing my story may incur. And triumph it has.
1% of the time, I respond to situations inappropriately and then have to live with the consequences. I am guilty of going to a local cafe, drunk, at 7am one Saturday morning a few months ago and doing something that, to me seems innocent enough, but not to the cafe owner…
When I returned on the following Monday the owner of the cafe, a young bloke more concerned (it would seem) with the image his cafe projects of being hip, sophisticated, and cool than of maintaining an amicable relationship with a regular customer, gave me what money was left of my weekly $50 tab that I pay at the start of each week, and asked that I never return again.
“Why is that mate?” I asked with confusion written all over my face.
“What you said on Saturday morning is just not on. I can’t have that kind of talk in my cafe.” He replied.
“What did I say?”
“Well one of the customers commented on the fact that you were at a cafe drinking coffee at 7am when you should really be home in bed sleeping it off.”
My reply, apparently, was, “If I was at home I’d just be smoking it up and whacking it.”
I assume I got a laugh…either that or a look of disgust. Whatever the case may be, the owner didn’t appreciate it one little bit.
So I haven’t returned since then. Until this morning. I stood at the takeaway windows, and received a happy, “G’day mate, how’s it going?” From one of the baristas.
Then the owner came to the window and said, “Can I help you?” with a look that clearly indicated he would rather not.
“I’m just after a takeaway mate. Is that alright?”
“Um. Yeah. I guess so.” He replied with about as much enthusiasm as someone offered an undesired yet necessary enema.
“Look mate, if you never want me to come back again, just say so, and I’ll never come back again. I just think it is unusual that for 99% of the time I drank coffee here, I was well behaved, friendly, appropriate in my interactions with your staff and customers, and based on a single comment, you’ve asked me never to return.”
“Please don’t come back again.” Was all he had to say.
Does he fear I’ll drive off all his business? Is the colour of my money different to anyone else’s? Is he threatened by my outgoing personality. Does he suspect I’ll lose it and hit him in the face?
Whatever the case may be, he chooses to live in fear of what me and my less than fully functioning brain are capable of.
Do I now live in fear that I’ll never drink coffee at this cafe again?
Or do I live in hope that the narrow minded approach this proprietor has shown me is an anomaly, and find somewhere with better coffee, service and more open minded staff? I chose the latter. And it is going well so far. Plus I drink far less coffee than I have in the past and save myself at least $40 a week.
So what would you do if you were the proprietor? Choose fear? Or choose hope?