Who could imagine that a rude storekeeper would attract such attention in our little country, never admired for its warm customer service?
According to financial magazine Globes, a woman came with her autistic child into a pizza store for a lesson in practical living, giving him a 20-shekel bill and instructing him to buy a slice of pizza and a can of tomato juice. The store owner helped another customer instead, despite the boy having stated his order three times. Finally the owner told the boy’s mother, “This isn’t a school.” The mother put the story into an email decrying the owner’s rudeness toward children with special needs and included his name and address. Thanks to the internet (she only sent it to fifty of her closest friends), the email spread far and wide and the pizza store owner was harassed. Mothers came into the store, dropped off a copy of the email, and left. Garbage was thrown. 25,000 members joined a Facebook group advocating a boycott of the store.
The Globes reporter was the first party to ask owner Shraga Gross for his version of the story. According to Gross, three mothers came in with their autistic children for this life lesson. The mothers did not coordinate with the store, and chose a time when it was full of customers. Gross claims that the boy did not utter a word, but he did tell the boy’s mother, “This is not a school.” He admits that he may have been impatient but objects to the personalized campaign against him.
Whichever version is correct, Gross didn’t commit a crime. I’ve been ignored and treated badly by storekeepers and I’m not even autistic. It seems to me that learning that not everyone will go out of their way to be kind to people, whether or not they have special needs, is an important life lesson.
Hat tip: Commenter Keren
For another example of Israeli customer service see Benji’s post here.
Update: I don’t condone rude behavior. However, the mother was out of line in publicizing the storekeeper’s name because of one isolated incident. It’s not like the store has a policy that discriminates against autistic children. If she would have e-mailed the story without mentioning the name I would support her 100%.