It’s Just A Joke…No, No It’s Not: A Lesson in Celiac Advocacy

Breathing. The key to life.

Get an email from a client that makes you upset? Don’t respond right away. Breathe.
Someone trolling you online? Don’t engage. Breathe.
Someone makes fun of your autoimmune disease? Don’t fly off the handle (yet). Breathe.

I learned this lesson in the past 30 minutes.

Mrs. Dude just sent me the above picture. It is from a salon right right down the street from the Dude Ranch. She was driving by and was so stunned by the sign that she pulled over and took a picture. I’ve blurred out the salon name (which I’ll explain why below), but you can see the chalkboard out in front. It says “Gluten Free Haircuts”.

Now I’ve had a bad day and am in the middle of a lot of stressful sh*t in my life. So my first reaction was pretty much rage. On a good day, I’ve had it with the jokes. On a bad day, forget about it. I have no patience for this ignorance anymore. But still, there was a part of me that really tried to give the benefit of the doubt to the owner. Maybe she meant that all of her products were gluten-free. Doubtful…but small possibility.

Now comes the decision. Do I go down there in person and potentially lose it, or do I take a few minutes…BREATHE…and give them a call? I chose the latter. Here is how the conversation went.

Salon: Hi…so and so Salon…can I help you?

Me: Hi…is the owner or manager there?

Salon: No she is not. Can I help you?

Me:I just noticed that you have a sign outside that says Gluten-Free Haircuts and I was wondering what that meant.

Salon: Ha, ha, ha…that’s just a joke…ha, ha, ha. (Literally, she was laughing like I just recited an Abbot and Costello routine.)

Me: I have celiac disease and gluten-free is what keeps me alive. I’m a big celiac advocate and it is not a joke to me or the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from celiac disease. Jokes like this make it so much harder for us to be taken seriously. My wife had breast cancer. Would you have a sign that said “Cancer free haircuts” or “chemotherapy free haircuts”?

Salon: [humming and hawing] Ummm…let me call the manager and have her give you a call.

Now I figured I’d maybe get a call the next day, if that, in which case I would have gone down to the salon myself with a wet sponge.

Within two minutes, my phone rang. I won a trip for two to Tahiti!! Just kidding. It was the manager. And she apologized…profusely. And I mean really profusely! Almost to the point where I had to ask her to stop apologizing. And the offending sign had already been taken down. She saw the error of her ways and she responded accordingly.

Look…I cannot wait until the jokes completely stop. Until then, we must keep doing what we do and be the best advocates we can be. Sometimes that may mean getting up in arms. And sometimes not.

So the next time you have a chance to advocate…breathe. You may be surprised at the results.

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2 thoughts on “It’s Just A Joke…No, No It’s Not: A Lesson in Celiac Advocacy”

  1. I have Celiacs, but I think you’re trying too hard to be a victim here. Jokes like that shouldn’t upset anyone!

  2. I’m gluten-free for my health, and I agree that it was an overreaction. Signs like that aren’t the problem–it’s the people who eat gluten-free as a license to make rude and unreasonable demands who are the problem. They are the ones who give the rest of us a bad name and prompt jokes like that.

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