A deaf customer ordered a meal at McDonald’s with a normal expectation: she’d get the food she’d paid for. Instead, she was left without food or a refund and hurt feelings.
Brenda Lander believes her story is about so much more than a single visit to McDonald’s.
Masks have made it more difficult for deaf people to understand hearing people. Lander also believes we might also be losing empathy.
WINK News reporter Sydney Persing sat down with Lander and an interpreter.
“Yes, deaf people are different, but that’s okay,” Lander said.
Lander was born deaf. For many years, she’s met many people who don’t speak sign language and don’t understand her. Her encounter on May 12 is different.
“I felt really small,” she said.
Lander went to McDonald’s with her 10-year-old daughter. There was some miscommunication, and she says, she waited for 30 minutes for her happy meal or at least for a refund. Then, she asked for a manager. That’s when, Lander says, the manager couldn’t understand her, grew frustrated and “shooed” her away.
“Very aggressive, not sensitive to anything, she would not take down the mask, listen to me, even take down a piece of paper and write, some other way to communicate with me,” Lander said.
Most people don’t know sign language and, sometimes, people just aren’t nice. Lander says that May 12 felt different to her. No one, not an employee or a customer cared to help her.
“Usually, people want to help, but that day there was nobody. Here I am, a woman with a disability and there was nobody there to help me out,” Lander said. “People were staring at me, and I was feeling very embarrassed.”
Lander went back to the car and cried to her daughter, who is also deaf.
Lander hopes speaking with WINK News will remind people that while everyone’s story is a bit different, but everyone can still listen. Even, if not especially to those who cannot hear.
“Togetherness, partnership. doing it together, you know? This is America, people should be coming together, and helping each other out,” Lander said.
So, how can we all help out? Lander says, first of all, don’t be afraid to try and communicate with a deaf person. Also, a little bit of patience can go a long way.
The Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing provides some basic sign language and sensitivity training for businesses. To access these, you can go online or call 239-823-4975.
McDonald’s did respond to WINK News and said:
“We take these matters seriously as they are not representative of our values. We work hard every day to treat all of our employees and customers with dignity and respect.” – Arch Management
They also say they’ve reached out to Lander.