Standing Outside Your Own Shoes: On Non-Binary Identification And Your Favorite Restaurants
This article is to not serve as a promotion for any establishments possibly mentioned below, it is strictly an analysis of events and how they were handled. The individuals pertaining to the contents of this piece have asked they remain anonymous.
It is no mystery that the area of Colorado Springs is getting older while the clientele that frequent the restaurants are getting younger; and with the younger generations there is a new degree of culture that should be addressed by the management and staff of the restaurants, and like establishments, in this city. One specific culture is non-binary identification, or simply: gender neutrality — this growing culture is more than just how someone identifies who they are, it is a way of life, and while it has been around for some time now, it is only continuing to develop. It is up to the restaurants of Colorado Springs to identify this as more than just “they want to be difficult”— which they are not, or “it is just another phase”— which it is not. Do not mistake me, this is a serious topic, and while there is no telling where gender neutrality will lead in the coming years, these individuals are here with us; there is no reason to hold a degree of prejudice against someone who is different than you are when we are all human. Be it their sexual preference, their race, religious practices, what have you- we are all here together, so let’s thrive together.
While it’s important to live your life un-apologetically, one can only imagine what it is like to be constantly berated based on who you are as a person, and if you have been in that position then you know all too well what it feels like. That being said, there are a number of individuals that have taken the initiative to accommodate the newer cultures, and what they have to offer, thus making their customers feel more welcome.
The information provided beyond this point pertains to situations that have occurred in a couple of the restaurants in the Colorado Springs area; in deference to the requests of my sources, all restaurants and individuals referred to in this article shall remain anonymous unless otherwise granted in the future. Thank you for understanding.
One Jane Doe of ours works at a restaurant in the Northern part of Colorado Springs, an establishment that specializes in high end casual food and mixed drinks; the situation that occurred was as simple as a slip of the tongue, but the action has since been rectified and a mental note has been made to ensure nothing like this happens again. Our Jane Doe was serving a couple in the restaurant, and didn’t think it’d be harmful to say “Have a good day, ladies;” one of the individuals voiced her concern stating she would rather be called anything but “lady.” While the reasoning for this, avoiding the term “lady,” was not established between the customer and the server, Jane acknowledged her mistake, apologized, and mentioned to me she has since been careful with how she addresses her customers to ensure they are comfortable and happy during their experience in the restaurant. From what I understand there have been no other occurrences as this since, and the business is continuing to flourish.
“Why identify someone by something they don’t like?”
“Let them be who they want to be.”
These were two talking points that were covered when talking to the owner of another establishment closer to the downtown area, this one specializes in a different dietary cuisine, in turn hosting a different clientele than our Jane Doe up North. The owners of this establishment have a strong belief that their customers have an innate right to identify themselves by whatever they see fit, and live whatever life they want, as it is their life and not ours. They even went as far as to host a staff meeting consisting of both the Back and Front of House — BOH refers to the Chefs, cooks, and dishwashers, while FOH refers to the managers, bartends and servers. The subject of the meeting was to ensure the staff is more aware of how to approach their customers with a gender-neutral focus (i.e. avoid gender specific pronouns), and how such behavior will affect the customer experience overall. This was a result of a couple occurrences where management was contacted by customers in regards to being misidentified by the waitstaff; needless to say the management of this establishment took the right course of action to ensure everyone was on the same page.
A couple of the Johns that work in the kitchen explained how the decisions from management on how to approach gender neutrality does not affect the kitchen as they don’t interact with customers on a daily basis, like the waitstaff, who in this circumstance took the information to heart and work hard every day to ensure the best experience for their customers. While the views of the BOH can be seen as a valid truth, it is important to ensure the staff remains on the same page to avoid any issues in the future, be it from a poorly timed joke, conflicting views, or so on.
In the end, any number of restaurants can work to ensure their customers are accepted for who they are, and given a quality experience, but some put this up as a facade to cover up how they truly see the open culture. One John stated simply: “It is a circus.” Which it is not. Life is a circus, and we can either play along to put on a show, or push off on our own. In respect to the recent passing of Stan Lee I found the following quotes very fitting:
“Whatever you do, you should do what you most want to do, and what you are best at. Too many people don’t really do what their heart’s desire is, but they try to do something else because they think ‘well it will be easy to get a job or to make money.’ And if that happens then when you are doing it you feel like you are working…” – Stan Lee, 1922-2018
I loved everything Stan Lee gave us, I was a huge fan all my life, so I was devastated when I heard of his passing, and I live by those words above. While the whole quote might not be applicable, the key here was: “Whatever you do, you should do what you most want to do.” Be who you are, be happy with who you are, we are all here together, so let’s thrive together. Just know the restaurants you love are working to ensure everyone is treated equally.
“You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said.” – Stan Lee
First quote source- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZiNKB28_Ns starts at 1:25
Second quote source- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGarqd3xC9A
Image source- https://unsplash.com/photos/GEEe_jB3rUk
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