Saturday, April 11, 2009

A story about Applebee's, and acceptance vs. resignation

Good evening everyone,

Tonight I had to come home and start blogging after a very interesting experience at dinner. I went out with a friend of mine to the Applebee's location in Airport Plaza in Farmingdale, and we happened to be seated by the hostess right next to a very large group of twenty black people. As my friend and I were giving our orders to the waitress, I was having a great deal of difficulty (otherwise known as a bad speech day, and I accept that it ebbs and flows), and as my food came, one of the kids in the group was telling his friend "Did you notice how he was stuttering on every word?" followed by some clapping of the hands and laughing. Although I was irritated, I politely walked over to the young man, who mustn't have been more than twelve or thirteen, and I said, "Excuse me, but I was the person who was stuttering. Do you think that's funny? I am not ashamed of the fact I stutter at all, in fact, I am proud to." All of a sudden, he and the table got very quiet. Afterward, I walked back and finished my meal. One hour later, my friend and I got up to leave, and the waitress came over and said that the host of the group had generously offered to pay for my meal. I politely declined but thanked him for his respectful gesture.

I am a very easygoing person, in fact, some might describe me as gregarious. But not only am I am a teammate at the NSA, and a chapter leader, but I am a person who stutters. And I am not very shy about letting others know that it is not appropriate to tease, or mock anyone in that manner. I think it's important, no, it's essential, that if you stutter, if you see a teammate or anyone else who does not understand that their actions can hurt others, educate them. One act of kindness really does make a difference.

I've said many times that as a person who stutters, there must be a journey that you have to take. A journey of self-acceptance, where you can say with pride that you are a person who stutters. But while I am saying that, there is a big difference between acceptance vs. resignation. This could be a whole blog topic in itself, but I want to address it here. It's about attitude. A major theme of my workshop last year, and hopefully this one too. Acceptance, with a positive attitude, means pride in the fact you stutter. It means you can walk around and embrace it-even on a day when you may block horrendously. It means you can show the world that I stutter-and never will it define me.

On the other side of the spectrum though, is resignation. With a negative attitude, resignation means you accept your stutter and the stranglehold it will have. You accept that it's OK to be laughed at, because it's all you know. It takes one attitude to make it through life-why not make it positive?

My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.


Jenn and Bjørn said...

That brought tears to my eyes. The difference you made in that young person's life, and probably those around him, is permanent. Attitude is everything. Good for you! ~Jenn, wife of the most wonderful man on earth, Bjørn, who also happens to stutter.

Greg said...

Hey Steve--Great post. It reminds me of how so much of (successfully) living with stuttering revolves around forgiveness of self and others.


Triumph said...

Wow, what can I say, great post. I am learning to accept me as one who stutters and is finding it hard to do so.

Eveyday is a challenge. Thanks your posts has given me new energy.