Wednesday, July 28, 2010

But He Got His Burrito!

How fitting that on the 20th anniversary of the oft-abused Americans With Disabilities Act, some jackass wins a lawsuit against Chipotle because he was (wait for it) deprived of the full Chipotle experience. We're just doomed. So incredibly doomed.

Here's the scoop: According to the
San Francisco Chronicle (which is so liberal it probably wets itself every time one of these rulings gets handed down) "...the law entitles wheelchair users at a restaurant to the same view as everyone else at the food that awaits them - in this case, burritos, tacos and the rest of the fare at Chipotle Mexican Grill." Does it now? Does it really?

KGTV-10 in San Diego says that "...the wall at the counter was too tall for people in wheelchairs to see over, to pick out their ingredients and to see their food being prepared." OK, look...I'm not trying to be a callous hard ass here, but are they serious? And when I say "they" I'm referring to a one Maurizio Antoninetti and his attorney, a one Amy Vandeveld. There are other names that come to mind, but that's what I'm going with.

Do you really need to see your food being prepared? Plenty of other restaurants feed you God only knows what without you witnessing the preparation of said food incarnation. Those restaurants are probably just fine for folks in wheelchairs. And again, don't get me wrong, as I'm not dismissing those in wheelchairs as people who are not entitled to the same rights as others. That's not it. I know people in wheelchairs and I know that it sucks. But the people who I know that are in wheelchairs realize the inherent limitations of society in general. Not seeing what goes into your burrito as it is going in there would seem to be one of those inherent limitations.

By the way, it isn't like Chipotle didn't try to accommodate these folks. In fact, "...a trial court had ruled against Antoninetti, saying Chipotle's policy of showing samples to people in wheelchairs was enough." See? They weren't ruthless about it. They were what? Accommodating, that is correct. But unfortunately, this case ended up before (and I'll use the words of Dr. Michael Savage) the 9th Jerkit Court of Shlemeals, who disagreed and overturned that verdict. Of course they did. Apparently, it is very important to see your burrito being made. I don't know why that's important, but to some, it is.

According to KGTV, "I just wanted Chipotle to understand it cannot treat people in a wheelchair in a different way than everybody else," he (Antoninetti) told 10News from Italy." From ITALY?! Well, good to know that he's using his settlement money wisely. But the point here is that they weren't treating people in a wheelchair differently. They were doing what society must (and should) do for folks with disabilities. They were accommodating them. Why is it that the businesses have to be accommodating, but the folks with the disabilities don't? Why is it that the businesses are supposed to recognize the limitations of those with the disabilities, but the disabled folks are not supposed to recognize the limitations of the businesses? I don't get it.

I suppose that the Americans With Disabilities Act was a good thing. I know that only the best intentions went into drafting and enacting that law. And it's something that I am totally in favor of. But can you seriously say that it's a good thing that this Chipotle case dragged on for five years, ended up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and making a couple of lawyers rich? I'm not so sure that would be considered "good". And by the way, according to Chipotle, "We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling. However, the matter is largely moot because several years ago, independent of this lawsuit, we retrofitted all our California restaurants with a new counter design that eliminates concern regarding wheelchair accessibility." And yet the lawsuit continued. Are we really to believe that it was all about the alleged "equality" for Mr. Antoninetti? I'm not so sure that it was.

If you click on the link above for KGTV, there is a video that accompanies this story. In the video, you will see Chipotle employees holding up samples for the person in the wheelchair to view, carrying the man's food to his table, making sure that he has everything that he needs, etc. He received excellent attention despite not being able to see his burrito being made. He appeared to be able to get around just fine inside the restaurant. He appeared to be in most hospitable atmosphere that one could hope for. And yet that wasn't enough for him. Or for his attorney. So they sued. Nice. I'm kind of surprised that Chipotle was willing to lower their counters and didn't just opt for the having no one be able to see their burrito being made so that this ONE guy wouldn't flip out. That would have solved the problem, too. All or nothing. Sounds like a really good way to ruin a perfectly good society. Way to go, sir. You jackass.

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