My service dog and I walked into a bar . . . Sounds like the start of a bad joke. It was pretty bad, but it was no joke.
My service dog (and my husband) and I walked into a restaurant/bar. We’d gone out to this particular place a few times before. It was a busy night, but there were a few open spaces and we were in no hurry. Waves of music and conversation surrounded the three of us as we waited to be seated. Not a minute went by when the music halted mid-song. The abrupt silence on stage made many heads turn toward the piano player.
Microphone in hand, pointing at us with the other, he bellowed, “Did you see the size of that dog?!”
Heads pivoted our way.
Did he really just say that? And he’s pointing at us?
A few dishwashers peeked through the swinging doors.
Possible responses collided in my head causing a pileup that blocked any of them from coming out my mouth, which had remained dropped open in disbelief.
“What kind of dog IS that?”
Omigod, he’s still talking. Into the mic.
When situations get awkward, I rely on humor to lighten things up. But nothing witty, punny or clever could make it through my stunned brain.
My eyes caught those of a waitress, hoping she could read my Please Get Us a Table look. She did. Before we had our coats off, she was at the stage. In a whoosh, she switched off the mic and whispered something in his ear. Twice. The other diners missed this because they had already turned back to their meals and companions. That gave me some relief that not only did our server get it, the customers weren’t all that interested in gaping at the handicapped lady on deck.
I’m not usually dismayed by service dog ignorance. People who want to talk or meet the dog approach with friendly, good intentions. I’m glad no joke came to mind and that I didn’t make light of it because pointing and singling has good intentions only when ordering a pastry at the bakery.
I wish I’d had some kind of retort, though. Maybe something like, “Thank you. Do you take requests?” And when he nods and gleefully says, “Yes,” I’d ask him not to publicly point out the disabled person in the room. Let that individual with the cane, wheelchair or service dog go out for dinner like everyone else.
I won’t be as stunned next time I encounter such unawareness when I ‘walk into a bar.’ Wouldn’t it be stunning if there isn’t a next time?