It was Friday night and Paris was buzzing. After an exhausting day, we were very hungry and decided to grab something quick at Saint Michel and go to see the Eiffel tower at Trocadero. My sister wanted to try a kebab and I was happy with her choice. We queued in a small restaurant and she ordered first. I went second and explained that I wanted a kebab without any meat parce que je suis vegetariene.
I asked how much would that be, bearing in mind that my dinner was basically a pita bread with salad, some sauce and some French fries. The guy at the other end of the window told me that it would be €6.50, which was the same price than for a regular kebab.
Thinking that he had not understood me, as neither of us were native French speakers, I proceeded to repeat my order and this time I explained that as my kebab wouldn’t have any meat at all, surely the price would be cheaper.
Without even allowing me to finish, the guy lost his temper at yelled at me that all kebabs were the same price. Then, he proceeded to blame me in some language I did not understand, probably annoyed that I had asked.
The man had all the right in the world to set his own business policies, advising that all sandwiches are priced the same and ignoring any customisation asked by the customers. He is free to establish how he wants to run his take away restaurant; however and in return, I am free to decide where to spend my money and to assess whether those policies are fair.
Shouting at me, on the other hand, is completely intolerable. I was asking a question respectfully and I was polite and courteous when addressing him. As a potential customer, I wanted to understand and make a decision on whether I wished to go ahead with my purchase. If you are rude to me, you will get nothing in return because I don’t respond well to any kind of abuse.
So I just left the place, with a burning feeling on my chest, and went to the next shop which was 2 inches away. They had meat kebabs as well as falafel ones, both at the same price. I ordered a falafel one; they were quick and considerate and I must say that the actual sandwich was really good.
Acknowledging my needs
This little story is just an example of an unfortunate day to day interaction, but I wanted to capture it because it is also a witness of how much I have changed in understanding my needs and accepting that my needs are as important as other people’s needs.
Over the last couple of years I have reached a mental state in which I have embraced that I am as good as I allow others to treat me. If I consent the take away guy to yell at me and then impose some sort of financial abuse *rip-off alert!* then that is all that I deserve.
In this situation I was able to see that I am worthy of a vegetarian dinner that is fairly priced. If the restaurant owner has other views, it is ok. But then, I deserve to be treated like I treat others, which is with respect and consideration at all times. I have this feeling that us, women, females, accept much more often to be addressed in an unkind manner which can take many shapes: patronising, demeaning, childish and even aggressive. Would this man have shouted to me, if I was a man too? Probably not *sad but true*.
I still live on Earth. Be ready, because I won’t give in.
This morning I learnt that there are 7,530,000,000 people on planet Earth. The number is so incredibly big that my brain doesn’t have enough capacity to understand the real amount – seven thousand five hundred thirty millions of human beings living their lives, having a purpose, taking care about others.
I would like to think that we all understand what it takes for that huge amount of people to live together, in society. Sadly enough, I think sometimes we lose it and go crazy, often corrupted by prejudices, materialistic and selfish impulses that make us behave like crazy and egocentric beings.
The world we inhabit is not ours, only our actions are. Rudeness and offensive manners are never acceptable. Please girl bosses around the world, never ever *jamais* forget this.
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