A few weeks back a story went viral that was about a young McDonald’s employee in America, who helped an elderly and disabled customer with his meal. He cut his food up for him and helped to feed him. A photo was plastered all over the Internet. This story was BIG news, with many saying that this young man was inspirational and should be acknowledged. While I agree with this sentiment, that it was a kind gesture, I feel that for a story such as this to become viral and to be seen as ‘not ordinary’ both remarkable and sad. The fact that a story such as this has made huge headlines across the world saddens me, but not because I don’t wholeheartedly agree with the kindness that this young man showed to a vulnerable customer, but that we see the need to applaud it in its uniqueness.
I read a similar story today about a young Canadian student who befriended an older man on the bus. He was pictured holding his hand. The man he helped had Cerebral Palsy, was deaf and had additional learning differences. Again this young man was photographed, and the story went viral. I felt exactly the same emotions while reading it.
Is this the world in which we live, were actions which should be seen as natural, kind and ‘usual’, are shown to be extraordinary? Gestures like this should be seen every day, but sadly they are not.
I also feel that stories such as these, however nice they are, do not really echo what is going on in the real world.
I use the bus, a lot, and while sat there I often see many young people with additional needs getting onto the bus, escorted by carers. Many of these young people have difficulty in walking, and many are in wheelchairs. Very often I can hear audible sighs and tuts from those passengers who are annoyed that they are taking so long to get on. This is the reality. Individuals with additional needs or disabilities do not need viral posts about how they were helped to be fed, or how they were comforted on a busy bus. I feel that their ‘difficulty’ such as it is, does not need to be glorified in order to make a good and viral story.
The lesson here is to treat everyone as you yourself would like to be treated. To be kind, to be helpful and to not judge. That’s more important than a viral post, which to be honest does nothing to help the disabled community