Restaurants Must Serve Mentally Ill Diners

Diner abandoned

If you’re anything like me, and I hope for your sake and the sake of your children that you are not, you’ve wrestled with your mental illness secure in the certainty that society cared about you only to the extent that it fervently wished you would excuse yourself from the room and be scarce in the way voles are scarce; that is to say, demonstrate your respect for “nice” people by remaining invisible to them.

Frankly, there is something soothing about looking at the ladder which leads up and up to society’s golden promises only to realize that the first few rungs of yours have been sawed in half and you won’t even have a chance to fall off, much less climb. Soothing because, in life, it is comforting to know where one stands, or, as is the case here, doesn’t stand.

If you aren’t shocked and surprised by every disrespectful snub and injustice, you cannot be disappointed and consequently, will harbor no resentment. (To put it differently, it is the illusion of a just world that causes heartache, not the sting of an unjust one.)

Having said all this, I will admit to slight pangs of bitter jealousy as I watched the PC-Police catch up with one social inequity after another, leveling the scales by means of bare-knuckled intervention and, in some cases, even legislation. The foot in the door arrived when restaurants were divided into Smoking Sections and Non-Smoking Sections.

Suddenly, non-smokers, who up to that point had languished in a social lagoon reserved for the insufferably sanctimonious and self-righteous, were accepted and treated, albeit begrudgingly, like regular members of society.

Curb cuts, aisles wide enough for Buicks, much less wheelchairs, and ATM keypads in Braille followed soon thereafter until it seemed like everyone, everyone, had been accommodated – everyone but us, that is.

That is why I am so happy to report that, starting in September of this year, all restaurants will be required by law to provide designated areas reserved exclusively for the mentally ill. There will be booster chairs for anyone suffering from low self-esteem and, instead of asking if a dish was satisfactory, wait-staff will always inquire, “How did that make you feel?” Other compensatory features will be discussed as details become available.

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Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.