Panera Bread and The Disabled Man

Panera_bread
So how many of you have seen the ABC show “What Would You Do?” hosted by John Quinones.
The show is a little like “Candid Camera,” which ran for over 5 decades, in which a practical joke was played out on people with a hidden camera capturing their reactions. Then when the joke was over, the people would be told “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”The new show “What Would You Do?” is similar in that a scenario is played out with a hidden camera, but rather than a joke, people are tested with illegal or unjust situations to see what they would do and whether they would speak up for the victim? It is a test of character and conviction. And at the end of the scenario, Quinones and the cameras are revealed.

I was reminded of this show yesterday, when I was in at Panera Bread and at the table next to me was a disabled man in a scooter–hunched over and not looking too well.

At one point, the disabled man leaves the table for a moment to get something to eat or go to the bathroom, perhaps.

In the meantime, another man comes over and takes his table. When the disabled man in the scooter returns and asks for his table back, the other man simply ignores him (intentionally) and keeps eating as if the diasabled man wasn’t even there.

The kicker here was that the disabled man could not really sit anymore else as this particular table had the extra room around it that he needed to get his scooter in at.

The disabled man put his head down and just shook his head in disbelief that the other man wouldn’t let him sit back at the table.
The man eating his sandwich finally says, “No one was here–this is my table!”

At this point, I couldn’t stand seeing this poor man suffer anymore, and I said “He was sitting there, the whole time, and just left for a moment.” To which, I thought this whole “misunderstanding” between the men would be resolved.

But I was wrong!

The man eating his sandwich at the table then shakes his head and nods his shoulders indicating that he just didn’t care and too bad on the disabled man.

In turn, I offered the disabled man our table and that we would move instead, but he refused and just waited for the other man to do the right thing.

At this point both myself and my wife and the people sitting on the other side of the man try to intervene and ask that he please give the disabled man his table back, where he had been sitting, so he could finish his meal.

Then, the man at the table slams his fist down and starts cursing us all out, loudly.

My wife got up to get the store manager, and while she does this the man finally moves to another table pushing an empty chair at us.

I couldn’t help thinking how this was like the show “What Would You Do?”–but this was real life and this horrible man was no actor!

And John Quinones did not appear to interview everyone after and have a few laughs.¬†Instead, we were saddened by how some people can be so cruel to others and I was reminded by something I had read from Voltaire that stated that “every person is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”

My hope is that whatever hurt this person had in their life that would cause them to treat others this way is healed and that they can find in their heart to have mercy on others and help them rather than get angry and spiteful–there are more tables to eat at and the food is just as good over there. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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