I just found out that Pret, British coffee shop chain has an unusual policy: random acts of kindness. The policy allows their workers to give free drinks or food items at random to the customers.
In this article in Independent spokesman for the company states that customers who are friendly to staff are more likely to get free items and I wonder, is this not discriminatory towards autistic people? It doesn’t mean I’m never friendly when I get coffee out (just to clarify, I never go to Pret) but I doubt I am as friendly as a friendly neurotypical person would be.
When I’m in a good mood I may smile to coffee shop staff but when I’m tired or overwhelmed smile is too much for me and I don’t even make eye contact. If I have to be honest I also think that by smiling I put unnecessary strain on the staff because they are then supposed to smile back and if they work for a couple of hours serving multiple people that must be loads of effort. At least that’s how I see it; possibly it’s not so much of an effort for a neurotypical person.
People who are friendly are usually treated better everywhere, not just in Pret. And yet no one ever says that this is discrimination towards autistic people. Reading this article made me feel sad. Not that I wasn’t sad before; I think my depression came back.
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