Updated: Lessons for Life: Rude Pizzeria Owner Lambasted on Internet

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%.

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Comments

  1. �¨�?�¡�? says:

    Everyone has something they are sensitive to or about. When people are rude to you about breastfeeding in a public place it’s also not a crime but it infuriates you. Well, this mom is trying to help make the world a little friendlier to her son. People who have stores with customers have to have patience for all kinds of clients. That’s where their livelihood comes from and it’s important just having a ramp for a wheelchair is.

  2. �¨�?�¡�? says:

    Everyone has something they are sensitive to or about. When people are rude to you about breastfeeding in a public place it’s also not a crime but it infuriates you. Well, this mom is trying to help make the world a little friendlier to her son. People who have stores with customers have to have patience for all kinds of clients. That’s where their livelihood comes from and it’s important just having a ramp for a wheelchair is.

  3. I don’t want anyone to think that I am saying the shopowner is correct because I certainly don’t feel that way. But… I could see how someone under stress (especially the stress of serving hungry people while making new pizzas and checking on the ones in the oven) could reply in a very rude manner. Sometimes when people are under stress they aren’t necessarily on their best behavior. Having said that, it just shows that this guy has to work on his middos and manners. I’m sure that he learned his lesson about how to behave. I don’t think we need to take away his parnasa though because he was very rude. The mother could have spoken to the owner first if she frequently goes to that pizza shop. She could have explained her experiment to him.

  4. I don’t want anyone to think that I am saying the shopowner is correct because I certainly don’t feel that way. But… I could see how someone under stress (especially the stress of serving hungry people while making new pizzas and checking on the ones in the oven) could reply in a very rude manner. Sometimes when people are under stress they aren’t necessarily on their best behavior. Having said that, it just shows that this guy has to work on his middos and manners. I’m sure that he learned his lesson about how to behave. I don’t think we need to take away his parnasa though because he was very rude. The mother could have spoken to the owner first if she frequently goes to that pizza shop. She could have explained her experiment to him.

  5. It might not have been a crime, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s not as though every shopkeeper in Israel treats their customers in such a manner. This owner needs to shape up.

  6. It might not have been a crime, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s not as though every shopkeeper in Israel treats their customers in such a manner. This owner needs to shape up.

  7. mother in israel says:

    Risa and tnspr, I don’t condone rude behavior by shopkeepers. But I think the mother overreacted by publicizing his name. I wouldn’t have a problem with the mother’s letter, I might have forwarded it myself, if she would have left out the owner’s name. She could educate the public without naming a target.
    If someone is rude to a breastfeeding mother I might complain about it without mentioning names–there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think it’s legitimate to protest against a store that has a discriminatory policy (although you may recall I was AGAINST a public protest at the mall where a woman was told to nurse in the bathroom).

  8. mother in israel says:

    Risa and tnspr, I don’t condone rude behavior by shopkeepers. But I think the mother overreacted by publicizing his name. I wouldn’t have a problem with the mother’s letter, I might have forwarded it myself, if she would have left out the owner’s name. She could educate the public without naming a target.
    If someone is rude to a breastfeeding mother I might complain about it without mentioning names–there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think it’s legitimate to protest against a store that has a discriminatory policy (although you may recall I was AGAINST a public protest at the mall where a woman was told to nurse in the bathroom).

  9. I am posting this as a mother of a teen with a disability.
    First of all, it goes without saying that it is osser to publish the shop-keeper’s name.
    Secondly, it would have been advisable for the mother to have warned the store in advance. Not only for THEM, but for HER. The first time a child tries such a thing he will probably need propmpting, and if they had known in advance, they could have done that.
    However, the store owner should have made a slight effort. NEVER, and I mean NEVER have I gotten such a reaction from store owners. (In fact, most store owners try very hard to be nice to us.)How long would it have taken, even if he was busy, to ask the child what he wanted?

  10. I am posting this as a mother of a teen with a disability.
    First of all, it goes without saying that it is osser to publish the shop-keeper’s name.
    Secondly, it would have been advisable for the mother to have warned the store in advance. Not only for THEM, but for HER. The first time a child tries such a thing he will probably need propmpting, and if they had known in advance, they could have done that.
    However, the store owner should have made a slight effort. NEVER, and I mean NEVER have I gotten such a reaction from store owners. (In fact, most store owners try very hard to be nice to us.)How long would it have taken, even if he was busy, to ask the child what he wanted?

  11. I agree, Leora. She could have used this as a different lesson for her son. First, how to handle rude people and second how to respond to them.
    Sounds like both shopkeeper and mom to work on middot.

  12. I agree, Leora. She could have used this as a different lesson for her son. First, how to handle rude people and second how to respond to them.
    Sounds like both shopkeeper and mom to work on middot.

  13. I’ll take the shopkeeper’s side. Maybe he was having a bad day. It’s hard work, taking care of customers, especially when big businesses will gladly take business away from the little guy.
    If she really cared about the shopkeeper as a human being and not just her own issues, she would have handled it differently.

  14. I’ll take the shopkeeper’s side. Maybe he was having a bad day. It’s hard work, taking care of customers, especially when big businesses will gladly take business away from the little guy.
    If she really cared about the shopkeeper as a human being and not just her own issues, she would have handled it differently.

  15. “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.” There is another life lesson, one that the store owner learned. In a time when modern technology allows news to travel at the speed of light, behaving in a poor fashion is going to get you noticed, and quickly.

  16. “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.” There is another life lesson, one that the store owner learned. In a time when modern technology allows news to travel at the speed of light, behaving in a poor fashion is going to get you noticed, and quickly.

  17. As you mentioned in your post, I don’t think that Israelis are known for their manners (I say this an an Israeli). I think that everyone has a right to say whatever they want to say, whether is right/PC or not. It sounds like the mothers should have coordinated this activity with the owner. It would have made for a positive experience instead of a negative one. The owner had a right to be rude, and the mother had a right to complain. Unfortunately, neither of the parties behaved productively.

  18. As you mentioned in your post, I don’t think that Israelis are known for their manners (I say this an an Israeli). I think that everyone has a right to say whatever they want to say, whether is right/PC or not. It sounds like the mothers should have coordinated this activity with the owner. It would have made for a positive experience instead of a negative one. The owner had a right to be rude, and the mother had a right to complain. Unfortunately, neither of the parties behaved productively.

  19. It looks to me that everything was badly handled, on both sides.

  20. It looks to me that everything was badly handled, on both sides.

  21. It wasn’t a crime, but neither is boycotting and negative publicity. In fact, those are exactly the proper responses when you object to a business owner’s practices. The garbage-throwing was probably at the least bordering on criminal itself, so I can’t condone that; but the publicity? Totally. Which would have meant nothing without his name. Let the people/customers decide if they mind how he acted or not, and give him a chance to decide if it’s worth it to him to rethink the way he acts. And there is every possibility that in the long run that wouldn’t hurt his business and that he wouldn’t have to rethink – because many people may feel that it’s a silly complaint and that no one should expect extra-special service and favored treatment; and thus will support the business all the same. The point is to leave it up to the market.
    IMAO 🙂

  22. It wasn’t a crime, but neither is boycotting and negative publicity. In fact, those are exactly the proper responses when you object to a business owner’s practices. The garbage-throwing was probably at the least bordering on criminal itself, so I can’t condone that; but the publicity? Totally. Which would have meant nothing without his name. Let the people/customers decide if they mind how he acted or not, and give him a chance to decide if it’s worth it to him to rethink the way he acts. And there is every possibility that in the long run that wouldn’t hurt his business and that he wouldn’t have to rethink – because many people may feel that it’s a silly complaint and that no one should expect extra-special service and favored treatment; and thus will support the business all the same. The point is to leave it up to the market.
    IMAO 🙂

  23. mother in israel says:

    Thanks, Leora. It’s true that small shopkeepers are under siege.
    Ricki’s Mom, I hoped you would comment. I’m glad that most storeowners don’t behave this way–maybe that is why the mother reacted so strongly.
    Miriam, to be fair, we don’t know what she said to her son about this.
    ProfK, good point.
    I-D, yes.
    Limor and Anniee: She does have the right to complain, I just don’t think she should have. But you make a good point about the free market.
    I’m enjoying the different perspectives. Thank you.

  24. mother in israel says:

    Thanks, Leora. It’s true that small shopkeepers are under siege.
    Ricki’s Mom, I hoped you would comment. I’m glad that most storeowners don’t behave this way–maybe that is why the mother reacted so strongly.
    Miriam, to be fair, we don’t know what she said to her son about this.
    ProfK, good point.
    I-D, yes.
    Limor and Anniee: She does have the right to complain, I just don’t think she should have. But you make a good point about the free market.
    I’m enjoying the different perspectives. Thank you.

  25. Lion of Zion says:

    did she do the right thing? i don’t know.
    was he overreacting because he was having a bad day or wasn’t prepared? i don’t know.
    what i do know is that this pizzeria owner learned a lesson and will think twice before blowing up like that again.

  26. Lion of Zion says:

    did she do the right thing? i don’t know.
    was he overreacting because he was having a bad day or wasn’t prepared? i don’t know.
    what i do know is that this pizzeria owner learned a lesson and will think twice before blowing up like that again.

  27. mother in israel says:

    LOZ, hopefully.
    Rafi, answer that question and you will have solved the mystery that is Israeli customer service.

  28. mother in israel says:

    LOZ, hopefully.
    Rafi, answer that question and you will have solved the mystery that is Israeli customer service.

  29. I don’t get it. Why would this businessman, any businessman, not want to sell his product? Why does he care who the customer is or what his medical problems are? if the customer wants a piece of pizza and will pay for it, what does he gain by not selling him the piece of pizza?

  30. I don’t get it. Why would this businessman, any businessman, not want to sell his product? Why does he care who the customer is or what his medical problems are? if the customer wants a piece of pizza and will pay for it, what does he gain by not selling him the piece of pizza?

  31. I find this thread fascinating.
    I have no problem in the woman publicizing what happened to her.
    Accountability will increase quality of service.
    A boycott over one incident is over-reacting and throwing garbage is absolutely unacceptable. But publicizing the store, and raising awareness, that is her right. And I think it is great that other customers are also demanding that the store owner make ammends.
    “The customer is always right.”
    Let the store owner apologize, offer her child a free slice, and move onward.
    And you can bet that the next time a child (handicapped or otherwise) is doing the ordering, he will treat that child like the King of England!

  32. I find this thread fascinating.
    I have no problem in the woman publicizing what happened to her.
    Accountability will increase quality of service.
    A boycott over one incident is over-reacting and throwing garbage is absolutely unacceptable. But publicizing the store, and raising awareness, that is her right. And I think it is great that other customers are also demanding that the store owner make ammends.
    “The customer is always right.”
    Let the store owner apologize, offer her child a free slice, and move onward.
    And you can bet that the next time a child (handicapped or otherwise) is doing the ordering, he will treat that child like the King of England!

  33. Lion of Zion says:

    “he will treat that child like the King of England!”
    hopefully not like Charles I

  34. Lion of Zion says:

    “he will treat that child like the King of England!”
    hopefully not like Charles I

  35. mother in israel says:

    Annie–Thanks for your comment. Child-free is not big in Israel, which I believe has one of the most child-centered cultures in the world.

  36. mother in israel says:

    Annie–Thanks for your comment. Child-free is not big in Israel, which I believe has one of the most child-centered cultures in the world.

  37. AnnieMcPhee says:

    At the same time, I think this conversation is extremely interesting. For example, I had no idea Israel was known for possible (or actual) rudeness in customer service. It’s been some years since I was a customer service representative, putting in 12 hour shifts and listening to the complaints of very angry parents – some of whom had been on hold for 6 hours but who wanted their toys in time for Christmas. (Can you imagine how enraged they were when they finally got through?) It didn’t matter how nasty, or how much they wished you were dead, you had to “kill them with kindness”. I did, and I was good at solving their problems, but by the time I went home I was an absolute bear lol. That is, if the bear hasn’t had a decent meal in 3 or 4 days and has been tormented during the whole time with stores of food it couldn’t reach and has a sore paw on top of it. And an awful tummyache.
    As to whether this storekeeper will treat the next challenged child better, I guess it depends. There are a strong contingent of parents who will (and have) react strongly, but there are a pretty strong contingent in many places of child-free people who do not care to have children out and about in public either. I guess it depends on whom he wishes to cater to the most.

  38. AnnieMcPhee says:

    At the same time, I think this conversation is extremely interesting. For example, I had no idea Israel was known for possible (or actual) rudeness in customer service. It’s been some years since I was a customer service representative, putting in 12 hour shifts and listening to the complaints of very angry parents – some of whom had been on hold for 6 hours but who wanted their toys in time for Christmas. (Can you imagine how enraged they were when they finally got through?) It didn’t matter how nasty, or how much they wished you were dead, you had to “kill them with kindness”. I did, and I was good at solving their problems, but by the time I went home I was an absolute bear lol. That is, if the bear hasn’t had a decent meal in 3 or 4 days and has been tormented during the whole time with stores of food it couldn’t reach and has a sore paw on top of it. And an awful tummyache.
    As to whether this storekeeper will treat the next challenged child better, I guess it depends. There are a strong contingent of parents who will (and have) react strongly, but there are a pretty strong contingent in many places of child-free people who do not care to have children out and about in public either. I guess it depends on whom he wishes to cater to the most.

  39. I’m glad to hear that – it’s one of those cultures that particularly annoys me lol.

  40. I’m glad to hear that – it’s one of those cultures that particularly annoys me lol.

  41. As a parent of an autistic child, I am unhappy to see that the really important point seems to have been missed here.
    “…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.”
    That’s blatant discrimination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the store owner has a right to be rude and say “this isn’t a school”. It doesn’t matter whether the mother got angry and publicized the store owner’s name and whether that was the correct thing to do. What matters is, that child was a paying customer and deserved to be served just like any other paying customer.
    For autistic children, interaction and communication are a HUGE deal. To be deliberately ignored, given the enormous effort it takes to initiate that contact, is heartbreaking.
    I don’t understand or really care about the politics of publicizing this store owner’s name in Israel, but in this mother’s shoes I would have done the same thing. I would want other parents of special needs children to be aware of how they can expect to be treated at that shop, and I’d want to bring public pressure to bear on any store owner that mistreated a paying customer. The responsibility for any resulting misbehavior (throwing garbage??) is not the mother’s, it belongs to the citizen who thinks it’s OK to behave that way in retaliation. So long as the mother didn’t ask people to abuse the store owner, it’s not her fault that people took it upon themselves to do so.

  42. As a parent of an autistic child, I am unhappy to see that the really important point seems to have been missed here.
    “…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.”
    That’s blatant discrimination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the store owner has a right to be rude and say “this isn’t a school”. It doesn’t matter whether the mother got angry and publicized the store owner’s name and whether that was the correct thing to do. What matters is, that child was a paying customer and deserved to be served just like any other paying customer.
    For autistic children, interaction and communication are a HUGE deal. To be deliberately ignored, given the enormous effort it takes to initiate that contact, is heartbreaking.
    I don’t understand or really care about the politics of publicizing this store owner’s name in Israel, but in this mother’s shoes I would have done the same thing. I would want other parents of special needs children to be aware of how they can expect to be treated at that shop, and I’d want to bring public pressure to bear on any store owner that mistreated a paying customer. The responsibility for any resulting misbehavior (throwing garbage??) is not the mother’s, it belongs to the citizen who thinks it’s OK to behave that way in retaliation. So long as the mother didn’t ask people to abuse the store owner, it’s not her fault that people took it upon themselves to do so.

  43. As a parent of an autistic child, I am unhappy to see that the really important point seems to have been missed here.
    “…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.”
    That’s blatant discrimination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the store owner has a right to be rude and say “this isn’t a school”. It doesn’t matter whether the mother got angry and publicized the store owner’s name and whether that was the correct thing to do. What matters is, that child was a paying customer and deserved to be served just like any other paying customer.
    For autistic children, interaction and communication are a HUGE deal. To be deliberately ignored, given the enormous effort it takes to initiate that contact, is heartbreaking.
    I don’t understand or really care about the politics of publicizing this store owner’s name in Israel, but in this mother’s shoes I would have done the same thing. I would want other parents of special needs children to be aware of how they can expect to be treated at that shop, and I’d want to bring public pressure to bear on any store owner that mistreated a paying customer. The responsibility for any resulting misbehavior (throwing garbage??) is not the mother’s, it belongs to the citizen who thinks it’s OK to behave that way in retaliation. So long as the mother didn’t ask people to abuse the store owner, it’s not her fault that people took it upon themselves to do so.

  44. As a parent of an autistic child, I am unhappy to see that the really important point seems to have been missed here.
    “…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.”
    That’s blatant discrimination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the store owner has a right to be rude and say “this isn’t a school”. It doesn’t matter whether the mother got angry and publicized the store owner’s name and whether that was the correct thing to do. What matters is, that child was a paying customer and deserved to be served just like any other paying customer.
    For autistic children, interaction and communication are a HUGE deal. To be deliberately ignored, given the enormous effort it takes to initiate that contact, is heartbreaking.
    I don’t understand or really care about the politics of publicizing this store owner’s name in Israel, but in this mother’s shoes I would have done the same thing. I would want other parents of special needs children to be aware of how they can expect to be treated at that shop, and I’d want to bring public pressure to bear on any store owner that mistreated a paying customer. The responsibility for any resulting misbehavior (throwing garbage??) is not the mother’s, it belongs to the citizen who thinks it’s OK to behave that way in retaliation. So long as the mother didn’t ask people to abuse the store owner, it’s not her fault that people took it upon themselves to do so.

  45. mother in israel says:

    Barbara, thank you for your comment. Like I mentioned, being ignored in a store isn’t uncommon here.
    If you’d like to write a guest post about how the general public can become more sensitive to the needs of autistic children, contact me at mominisrael at gmail dot com.

  46. mother in israel says:

    Barbara, thank you for your comment. Like I mentioned, being ignored in a store isn’t uncommon here.
    If you’d like to write a guest post about how the general public can become more sensitive to the needs of autistic children, contact me at mominisrael at gmail dot com.

  47. mother in israel says:

    Barbara, I just figured out who you are! I sent you an email; please let me know that you got it.

  48. mother in israel says:

    Barbara, I just figured out who you are! I sent you an email; please let me know that you got it.

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