McDonald's Worker Screams And Runs Away From Little People, Probably Shouldn't Be Assigned To Register

When Ethan Wade, who has dwarfism, went into a McDonald’s in South Carolina recently to order some food, the cashier took one look at him and ran off, waving her hands in the air and shouting “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” She kept shouting from the back, and another employee came up to tell Ethan that she had a phobia of little people. Said Wade:

An employee in the franchise office told Wade about what the woman had said. Wade said, “The employee had stated to her, ‘Imagine if you saw a snake or a spider, how would you respond?’ And that employee said she understood that. And I said, ‘That’s unbelievable. I am a human being.'”

“How could you compare the fear of a snake and spider to a human being? That makes no sense to me,” Wade said. “I’ve seen kids kind of react like that. Understandable. But grown adults to act like that? That’s just not acceptable.”
The restaurant deferred comments on the matter to the franchise office.
The person who answered the phone at the franchise office when WYFF News 4 called said the only people who could discuss this case are the franchise’s attorneys, insurance company and the owner, but they refused to give out any of their names.

If you have a phobia of people, shouldn’t you find work that doesn’t involve the risk of seeing them? Or try exposure therapy—she should date progressively shorter men until the sight of a dwarf causes only mild discomfort.
Wade says the restaurant hasn’t contacted him to apologize so far. “I haven’t even gotten anything from that yet,” he said. “You know, I was thinking a coupon or something.” You got something better than a coupon, Wade! The company is taking this seriously:

After WYFF spoke to a media spokeswoman at the corporate level, the franchise owner, Cynthia Samour, released a statement saying, “We take these matters seriously and do our very best to serve our customers with the utmost care and respect.”

The franchise owner has said that “all her employees will receive additional training to ensure they serve all customers with respect.”
“Taking it seriously” is a phrase companies use over and over again in public statements whenever they have bad PR. Our series of posts on occurrences of the phrase is our attempt to question how seriously companies are really taking these matters if every time they trot out this phrase by rote.
“Little Person Says Clerk Screamed, Ran From Him” [WYFF4 News](Thanks to Christy!
(Photo: Brendan Adkins)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bdgbill says:

    I find it hillarious that minnimum wage employees can, with just a few words, cause a business hundreds of thousands (or sometimes miliions) of dollars in lawsuits and legal fees without getting in any trouble themselves (besides losing their crappy job).

    Something tells me the midget is sniffing around for cash and enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

  2. jgarra says:

    Khuzdophobia. Fear of dwarves. It happens. Maybe this dwarf should look up the definition of phobia, “an uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.”

    Sorry but it happens and if this person truly has this condition then this dwarf should be understanding as it’s a condition which she could obviously not control. Oh wait, you mean like dwarvism is uncontrollable??

  3. justdan says:

    How small of her.

  4. jgarra says:

    Khuzdophobia. It’s a fear of dwarfs. Get over it shorty.

  5. overbysara says:


  6. Wormfather says:

    “Little people got, no reason, no reason to liiiiiive. They walk around with little beady eyes tellin great big lies…da da dada”

    Sorry, very insensitive of me, but I couldnt help.

  7. jgarra says:

    Maybe this dwarf shouldn’t have such a short temper!! :)

  8. LynchMob52 says:

    Some people can’t help being afraid of midgets just like this guy can’t help being a midget. Stop looking for a handout.

  9. Balisong says:

    @bdgbill: Yeesh, troll much? The guy just wants some free food, and probably wants to bring some attention to the crap little people have to put up with.

  10. Blinkman says:

    Isn’t the dwarf being insensitive to this person’s mental condition and accusing this cashier of being insensitive to his physical condition? There are unfortunate things in life. Deal with it. Either he’s an idiot or money hungry. I don’t know which one is worse.

  11. jtheletter says:

    Phobias are irrational by definition. If anyone could get over a phobia simply by thinking about the reality of the situation (e.g. this tiny venom-less spider can’t possibly harm me) then why would anyone ever need therapy or counceling for phobias?
    If the cashier actually had a legitimate phobia of people with dwarfism then that’s unfortunate but the fear doesn’t have to make logical sense to Wade for it to be real. I also don’t think that this is something that should prevent the girl from being a cashier outright as the expected number of dwarfism encounters is very very low. 99.999% of the time it won’t be an issue, however I agree that she needs to work on her reaction. Calmly turning her station over to a coworker and leaving would be preferred to running away waving hands and screaming.

  12. surgesilk says:

    There was really no reason for the clerk to belittle him!

    *rim shot*

  13. Hepcephus says:

    Really? No one to the defense of Ethan Wade?

    This is comparable to someone with a fear of animals working at the zoo.

  14. unklegwar says:

    this “little person” needs to look up “Phobia”.

    It’s an IRRATIONAL FEAR. So, uh, don’t try to make sense of it.

    File under: Weird sh*t happens. and move on.

  15. Balisong says:

    Man, you’re all against getting free food! D: No college students in here?

  16. surgesilk says:

    She should have walked and away and someone would have gotten back to him shortly.

  17. Adam Hyland says:

    @bdgbill: Sucks for the business. Businesses are liable for the actions of their employees. If the employee had run over him in the parking lot while on the job, you can bet MCD would share liability. That is the incentive to businesses to control who they hire and how they train. Otherwise they wouldn’t.

  18. Trai_Dep says:

    Stay away from Lord of the Rings, lady. Otherwise we’ll show up in green drag (on our knees) and sing The Lollipop Song.
    Seriously: she didn’t just compare short people to insects and reptiles, did she?

  19. Adam Hyland says:

    @Blinkman: Are you insane? is this the Geraldine Ferarro view of prejudices? A customer facing employee ran away from a customer because he was small, then compared fear of him to fear of snakes. No one is saying that SHE is a bad person, they are just saying that at least MCD’s should have comped this guy a fucking meal.

    Some times you people amaze me.

  20. jimv2000 says:

    “How could you compare the fear of a snake and spider to a human being? That makes no sense to me,”

    Of course it doesn’t make sense to you. You don’t have whatever phobia this poor girl has. Moron.

  21. kelmeister says:

    I saw a television show once that featured a girl who had khuzdophobia. It was so strange: apparently as a child, she was taken to see Santa at Christmastime, later that day she was attacked and severely injured by a dog. And for some reason, instead of her mind locking onto the obvious and making her deathly afraid of dogs, she became deathly afraid of elves (ie little people). On the show they took her out to a club and had a little person approach the table where she was sitting, and she was fine until she saw him; she had a panic attack and broke down screaming and crying. They had a doctor perform some kind of therapy that seemed to help her.

    I don’t know what my point is.

  22. Adam Hyland says:

    @jtheletter: Well, by your logic, therapy wouldn’t help either, but it does.

    And the point isn’t that her phobia should be “cured” or anything like that. The point is that she should have excused herself and gotten someone else to work the till. That would have been the appropriate thing to do.

    She didn’t do that and instead publicly embarrased him when all he wanted was a burger.

  23. Wormfather says:

    OK people, in all honesty, you replace midget with “black man” and you’ve got national media attention on this.

    She’s wrong, every application asks if you have some sort of disability which would prevent you from doing your job, she should have answered “Yes, I’m a dumbass”.

  24. greatgoogly says:

    It was reported recently that the McDonald’s employee wasn’t fired but was moved to a non-frontline position…. Short order cook… (ba da boom)

  25. Wormfather says:

    Oh and I forgot to blame the victim (It’s blame the victim day for me).

    He shoudlnt have been eating at McDonalds in the first place, serves him right.

  26. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’ve got a fear of heights and am slightly claustrophobic.
    Instead of getting a job where I work inside cramped spaces very high up in the air, I avoid those kinds of things.

    If this girl knew she was Khuzdophobic, she shouldn’t be working in a customer service environment.

  27. katman2 says:

    I agree a phobia can’t always be helped, but if McDonalds knew she had a phobia of certain people, she shouldn’t be at the register. I think the guy is entitled to a free meal, but really that’s it. Enough of suing everyone when your feelings get hurt.

  28. sixninezero says:

    Wow. This is really where compassion comes into play. The little person should have compassion for the cashier’s affliction while those employees whom do not suffer can have compassion for the little person.

    We have all been embarrassed or humiliated in our lives, but if one realizes that the opinion of anybody else doesn’t matter they can be happy.

  29. Adam Hyland says:

    @jimv2000: God you guys come out of the woodwork for stories like this.

    “An employee in the franchise office told Wade about what the woman had said. Wade said, “The employee had stated to her, ‘Imagine if you saw a snake or a spider, how would you respond?’ And that employee said she understood that. And I said, ‘That’s unbelievable. I am a human being.'””

    That’s the actual quote. What you said distorted his words.

    This is not a criticism of the phobia itself. This is the criticism of the reaction to the phobia. Those are two different things. The company suggested that the response of the employee to something inhuman was the same as the response to him. It’s perfectly reasonably for him to question this. He is a human, despite her fear of dwarves in general.

    But again, this isn’t about her phobia. That’s not what his complaint is about and that’s not what this thread should be about. Her phobia is irrelevant. The thread is about the corporate response, her response and the outcome. Only a small sliver of that has to do with her phobia.

  30. EBounding says:

    I agree that the worker was wrong, but imagine if she did this with a normal looking white man. Then she would just look crazy.

  31. Adam Hyland says:

    @sixninezero: I’ll forgive you your penchant for strange sentence construction but you are missing the point. the article doesn’t say whether or not he feels compassion for her phobia. He might, he might not. The entire article is about her response in light of that phobia and the corporate response to him.

    That is the important part.

    The right answer for her would have been to excuse herself and get someone else to work the register. Failing that, the right response for the manager would have been to get her to leave the store until she calmed down and comp him a meal (ZOMG, a whole 5 dollars).

    Neither of those things happened. That is why this is a story. The people focusing on her phobia and their vision of him denigrating that phobia are just trying to blame the victim.

  32. homerjay says:

    Hey, people are afraid of all kinds of crazy things. SOme people are afraid of clowns. Those are people… Hell, Austin Powers is afraid of carnies. Ya know… small hands…..

  33. fostina1 says:

    you wouldnt believe some of the stuff grown ups are scared to death of. i ride a vanpool to work and one of the women said she had a fear of mice. she said she was even scared of micky mouse. im a big fisherman and a friend at work ties fishing flies. he made some that look like mice out of deer hair. needless to say i proably shouldnt have showed it to her on the ride home, she started screaming and crying and couldnt stop even after i told her it was a fishing fly. she didnt ride the van anymore after that. i felt really bad.

  34. Colleen says:

    wow all your short jokes are HILARIOUS.

  35. rustyni says:

    I think it’s sad. How would you feel if someone ran screaming from you, because you had brown eyes? Or had giant ears? Or you walked with a gimp, while drooling over yourself? Or were just really ugly? Would you really not expect an apology for such humiliation? Sure a phobia IS an irrational fear. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that this man was publicly humiliated and disrespected in a business establishment. There is such a thing as “professionalism”, which management or SOMEONE could have demonstrated by apologizing to the guy, and offering him something for his troubles.

  36. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Well, by your logic, therapy wouldn’t help either, but it does.

    @Adam Hyland: Therapy is way, WAY beyond simply thinking about the situation. Stating that you can’t get past a phobia just by thinking about it for 3 seconds in no way implies that therapy wouldn’t work. Therapy is long term.

    She reacted the way anyone would when suddenly and unexpectedly seeing the very thing they have a phobia of. Expecting someone to act rationally and calmly in the face of an irrational fear is ridiculous.

    @Wormfather: Is there such thing as a phobia related to black people?

  37. Shadowman615 says:

    All talks of phobias and mental conditions and little people aside, I have no qualms about laughing at or belittling anyone who, at the sight of a little person, “runs off, waving her hands in the air..shouting “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!”

    Seriously, they actually have a name for that? What’s the treatment? How about a smack in the back of the head and a “grow the hell up?”

  38. Pithlit says:

    I suffer from arachnophobia, so I can definitely sympathize with anyone suffering from any phobia. But, they are treatable. Even if they can’t be eradicated completely, a person can learn to control themselves when confronted with their fear. She shouldn’t have worked up front with customers until she was able to master her emotions a little better. My phobia is so bad I can’t garden anymore or go on camping trips. But, I learned to control my response when I had kids so I wouldn’t pass my fears on to them. It is possible.

    The customer is right. He is a human being, and deserves to be treated with respect. I don’t think she should be punished, but I do think he’s owed an apology from the company. At least they’ve removed her from a position dealing with customers.

  39. Blinkman says:

    @Adam: How can she politely excuse herself when the object of her irrational fear (phobia) is standing in front of her? Did you even think about that?

  40. CitizenOutKast says:

    Ok, so she reacted badly, but then, it’s not like she was expecting the guy to come in and face her. It’s all easy to say that she should have just calmly had someone else take over, but if the fear is bad enough, it’ll be a pure “fight or flight” response, and I doubt you’d have wanted her to vault the counter and pound him on the head first.

    They should’ve just explained it to him and given him a free meal for the disturbance and then forgot about it. It looks like he’s taking offensive now simply to keep his options open for a lawsuit later.

    As for the “spider” comment, she was obviously NOT comparing him to a spider. All she was doing was trying to explain her FEAR by coming up with something the other employee may have been frightened of. If she knew the other employee was afraid of, let’s say mailboxes, she would’ve said that instead. Wade is playing “offended minority” and is looking to get something out of this.

  41. etherealclarity says:

    If this was a legitimate phobia (and I don’t doubt it… I know someone who also has a phobia of little people), and she was surprised by the situation, she may not have been totally in control of herself. It’s not like she humiliated him on purpose. One would hope that someone with perspective and compassion could see this and not demand some kind of arbitrary compensation.

    That being said, I think McDonald’s did the right thing in reaction by moving her to a non-consumer position. Giving the guy a free meal wouldn’t be out of the question, also.

  42. warf0x0r says:

    Nobody has a phobia of people with dwarfism. That’s ridiculous. How do you develop a phobia of dwarfism? More importantly how did McDonald’s know this employee had a phobia of dwarfism? Did they have documentation from some type of specialist?!? What type of traumatic event gives you a phobia of dwarfism?!? And No, the TLC marathon of Little People, Big World wont do it!

    It sounds like stupid people being stupid and that’s it.

    This also belittles people who suffer daily from real phobias… just like this crap:

    WTF would you go to a factory with pickles if you hate them!!!

  43. drdom says:

    Just judging by the posts here, obviously little people take a lot of shit from the outside world to begin with, so if he seems a bit sensitive, perhaps it’s because you haven’t walked a mile in his shoes. It doesn’t sound like he was looking to sue or anything, a simple apology and a cheeseburger or two would probably settle the situation. We’re so sensitive and politically correct about all kinds of people, but dwarfs still seem to be fair game. That doesn’t really seem right, does it???

  44. “How could you compare the fear of a snake and spider to a human being?”

    Apparently he’s never heard of the uncanny valley.

    But yeah, I’m with Chris, if you have a phobia involving people, probably customer service is not your dream job.

  45. @homerjay: I’m afraid of animals that have feet that look like little pink hands, like possums and mice and rats and chipmunks. But not raccoons, because their hands are furry. It like seriously makes me nonfunctional if I think those little pink feet-hands might touch me.

  46. TheUncleBob says:

    To those who think the employee should have “politely excused herself and walked away” – I think you don’t really understand how a real phobia works. If something 120% scares the crap out of you, you typically aren’t thinking rationally when faced with it.

    To all of those saying that the employee should not be put on a register, I wonder what the ADA would have to say about that. Do extreme mental conditions count as a disability? Can a business legally deny to let an employee do a job they’re completely qualified for because of something such as this?

  47. etherealclarity says:

    @warf0x0r: Ok, now THAT pisses me off. 1) I know someone who has that exact phobia, and 2) I have a phobia of my own (emetophobia). Saying “nobody has that phobia” and “it’s ridiculous” belittles so many people with uncommon phobias.

  48. Whitey Fisk says:

    “Little People, Big Mac”

  49. hi says:

    I think that womans reaction is insane. Anyone who acts like that shouldn’t be working around people. Did she think Ethan was going to eat her or just order a combo meal like everyone else who goes to McDonalds? Grow up lady, and go apoligize.

    @homerjay: You do realize Austin Powers is a character and not real? Just checking, cause it seems people these days are in a fantasy world.

  50. Adam Hyland says:

    @Blinkman: Duuuuh, gee boss, I never thought of that. What do you think? Of course I thought of that.

    My wife has a fear of snakes. that doesn’t mean that when she goes to the pet store she runs around screaming like an idiot. It means that she doesn’t go in the reptile section.

    A phobia is an irrational fear. It is part of systems in the brain that control a wide range of our actions in ways we don’t logically consider. She probably had an elevated heart rate, she was probably sweating, she was anxious. She probably felt like she was seizing up and probably didn’t know what to do about it.

    None of that translates directly to screaming “oh my gosh oh my gosh” and running around the store. None of it. Those actions are not automatic. Fear does not compel us to do those things. It IMPELS us to do those things. The choice to runs screaming around the store is surrender to histrionics–it is a choice a child would make. An adult, an employee of a business that deals with people from all walks of life does not have that choice. The correct answer is to walk away and not make a scene. That answer is possible even in the face of fear.

    and like I said, if she didn’t make that choice, we wouldn’t be here talking about it, but even if she HAD, all the manager had to do is say “Look dude, I’m sorry, that behavior is unacceptable, let’s try to make your meal here a good one. Here’s a free quarter pounder, or something.” That’s all. They didn’t say that. So here we are.

  51. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    How could that McDonald’s employee look down on someone like that…

  52. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @EBounding: No, if she did this to a normal looking white man, he would be the one hauled off, probably on some sort of vague vagrancy or sexual harassment charge.

  53. picshereplz says:

    @TheUncleBob: Apparently she’s not completely qualified for this job.

  54. Manok says:

    when I worked at wendy’s as a kid this little person in a custom, pimped out, brown full size van with hand controls used to order a small frosty and a baked potato..every day. He was pretty cool and no one ever ran away screaming, lol.

  55. Adam Hyland says:

    @TheUncleBob: assuming it counted as a disability, probably the same thing the ADA would say about a company that refuses to hire a blind bus driver: nothing.

  56. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @rustyni & @jgarra: I can understand both of your arguments but I’m going to have to agree with rustyni. No, she didn’t humiliate him on purpose but if her actions really did humiliate him he deserves an apology from the restaurant. If I were to accidentally step on someone’s foot I would apologize. It isn’t OK not to apologize just because I didn’t do it on purpose.

    I’d agree with jgarra if he was seeking compensation from that particular employee or looking to get her fired but all he wants is an apology and coupon.

  57. camille_javal says:

    @CitizenOutKast: but was it necessary for the third-party employee to relay the “spider” comment back to the customer? I’m not even sure it was appropriate to tell him she had a phobia of people with dwarfism – apologize, say the employee had a panic attack (it’s true). Being that the employee (third-party, not phobic) was very tactless about the whole thing, yeah, comp a fucking meal, and phone to apologize.

    I have a couple different diagnosed anxiety disorders; I’m treated now, but there was a time when certain things could set me into a panic attack that I had more trouble controlling. I wouldn’t be particularly happy if I were this woman, having what may be a very embarrassing thing for her put all over the place.

  58. morganlh85 says:

    A phobia is a phobia. It’s no more unreasonable for a person to have a phobia of little people than to have a phobia of people with red hair. It’s silly for him to think that being a human being makes a phobia offensive in some way.

  59. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @etherealclarity: I don’t know why people insist on pretending they’re doctors or any other kind of expert that’d make them qualified to make statements like that.

    It’s either “X doesn’t exist at all” (the one you replied to) or it’s “I know someone with X and it isn’t that bad for them, therefore nobody else on the planet with X can have it as bad as described in the post”. (Adam Hyland post above).

  60. ezacharyk says:

    I just love how many of you people expect someone with an IRRATIONAL fear of something to act RATIONAL.

    It doesn’t wok that way.

  61. MercuryPDX says:

    @warf0x0r: You could say the same of the girl in your clip… a fear of Pickles? What possible traumatic event can cause someone to be afraid of a pickle? Same with the girl afraid of Mustard. They may seem silly, but it’s real to them.

    It’s an irrational fear they have no control over. Phobias can manifest for anything: small people, spiders, pickles, even leaving the house (Agoraphobia).

    You can accept a fear of pickles as legitimate, but not a fear of small people?

  62. jtheletter says:

    @Adam Hyland: What do you *think* I said? Because you agreed with my post completely. Therapy is more than simply saying to onesself “this fear is irrational, now I’m over it”. Therapy involves reconditioning and numerous other psychological techniques. And while it boils down to rationalizing away a fear, it’s more of a process than simply acknowledging the fear is irrational. I did not contradict myself, nor imply therapy is ineffective for dealing with phobias.

  63. Machete_Bear says:

    She wouldn’t be so quick to piss off that dwarf had he known about his 1% increase in gun critical hit chance.

  64. modenastradale says:


    Yes, I agree 100%. The insult is not really that an unhinged fast-food worker went beserk. It’s just how badly McDonald’s handled the whole thing… which, by the way, is exactly what gets these companies in trouble each and every time. They just don’t care to handle their wrongs in a way that is socially acceptable or even business-savvy.

  65. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @ezacharyk: The fear is irrational. How you respond to it, once you get over the initial shock, is under your rational control.

  66. youbastid says:

    @jgarra: @TheUncleBob: @etherealclarity: And to anyone else that “identifies” with this girl’s “real phobia.” What if this was a black guy, and she ran screaming because she has a fear of black people? That’s a real phobia. Is that understandable? Do you identify with that? The guy is a human. If she’s going to work around humans of ANY KIND, she can’t be fearing them.

  67. Adam Hyland says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I’m not pretending to be a doctor, but I’m also not extrapolating mountains of meaning out of the words rational and irrational. How about this.

    The behavior of the clerk was inappropriate. Furthermore, the behavior of the manager was insufficient. the behavior of the franchise rep. in equating the customer with a snake or insect was stupid.

    Anywhere along this chain this could have been broken and it would not have been a problem. This guy would have been teed off at MCD’s and not returned or turned into a happy future customer. They messed up and didn’t break the chain.

    Now the story is on consumerist. The CHAIN is the important part yet you guys all seem to be focusing on the impetus.

  68. Adam Hyland says:

    @Machete_Bear: That so got nerfed. He would have totally busted her chops with a 1% bonus to weapon skill.

  69. Adam Hyland says:

    @morganlh85: The phobia isn’t offensive. He never said it was. Here again is the quote, because it is being misquoted and distorted:

    An employee in the franchise office told Wade about what the woman had said. Wade said, “The employee had stated to her, ‘Imagine if you saw a snake or a spider, how would you respond?’ And that employee said she understood that. And I said, ‘That’s unbelievable. I am a human being.'”

  70. AaronC says:

    i would have to agree with the first post. It is sad that people will hold a company liable for a single employee who could just be angry with the company. There comes a time when you should hold the person liable, not the company.

    And i believe people should have thicker skin.

  71. etherealclarity says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Agreed. Severity can make a huge difference, too. For example, my case of emetephobia is relatively mild, but there are some emets who have it so badly that they also are agoraphobic or OCD.

    Now, should those people (or me, for that matter) be working in a hospital? Probably not. We all have to understand our limitations. It’s why, when a friend of mine was recently sick due to being drunk, I steered clear and let someone else handle it because I didn’t want to add to the problem by trying too hard to help him and having a panic attack instead. It took me a long time to get to a point where I could do that, though, and therapy isn’t an end-all, be-all answer.

    There may have been better ways for this girl to handle the situation, no doubt, but that necessarily doesn’t make her “childish” and it certainly doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the phobia or that she’s a moron/idiot/etc. It means she had a bad reaction.

  72. TheUncleBob says:

    @Adam Hyland: “It means that she doesn’t go in the reptile section.”

    First, there’s a huge difference between having a fear of something and having a phobia. It’s almost like the difference between disliking peanuts and being allergic to them. Second, what happens if someone in the pet store would walk up to your wife with a snake?

    @picshereplz: If the ADA can go after Wal*Mart because they won’t hire a pregnant woman who can’t stand for hours for a cashier job, I don’t see why they can’t go after a McDonald’s for not hiring someone with a highly irrational phobia of .001% of the population

  73. Saboth says:

    Clowns are people too, but you don’t see me running up to hug one. A phobia is a phobia, who knows how you might react.

  74. tinky XIII says:

    I’m sorry, but phobia or not, flailing your arms around and screaming like a damned cartoon character is uncalled for, especially at work. Then again, if she told the truth on her employment application, she would never be working the counter to begin with. There’s usually that area that asks to the effect of: “Do you have any preexisting conditions that would hinder your ability to do your work as assigned?”

    I applaud Ethan for not going crazy and demanding the employee’s head on a pike. An apology and free food should be enough.

  75. plustax says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Fear of black people is not in the DSM-IV but there is a lot of things people fear irrationaly which are not listed there. We see a lot of ethic irrational phobias these days with folks from the middle east or Mexico. Nobody has any real reason to fear anybody in this country and blame it on a psycological condition. What she did was wrong and her co-worker’s explanation to the customer was also wrong. Also, I haven’t check the DSM-IV to see if it’s still officially on there but it wrong to list Khuzdophobia as a legitimate phophia without listing others attached to humans such as homophobia or xenaphobia etc.

  76. Adam Hyland says:

    @TheUncleBob: The phobia/allergy allusion is a false one. I admit that fears are less acute and vivid than phobias, but the point remains. Screaming “oh my gosh, oh my gosh” and running around like a chicken with the head cut off aren’t automatic nervous system responses. It isn’t like a reflex.

    And let’s reverse this. A customer walks into MCD’s and sees a dwarf clerk. She/he freaks out and runs around like a moron. The clerk and the manager tell her she is behaving inappropriately and needs to leave. She says that the store needs to get a different clerk. The store refuses, it gets posted on consumerist. How many of the SAME people would you think show up to blame the victim then? I’m betting like 70-80%.

  77. danseuse322 says:

    The short jokes by some of the commentators totally explain how this happened. Obviously, rudeness, cruelty and doing anything for a laugh is becoming the national standard. It must be wonderful to be so utterly flawless that you can sit around all day and make jokes. I can’t imagine what it must be like in our society which already devalues people based on appearance to be male and very small of stature. Honestly, I have taught middle schoolers with more sensitivity. Be sure to write in when you become imperfect (this is addressed to the jokesters only) so the other readers can laugh at you.

    PS I am female, not a dwarf, do not KNOW any dwarfs and am not suffering from some obvious malady. I just hate bullies who think they are funny.

  78. andrewe says:

    My disability is worse than your disability now give me free stuff.

  79. katylostherart says:

    well, that sucks. he should probably get a free meal. i feel bad for the employee. it’s not like she doesn’t realize dwarves are people, she’s just severely afraid. she can’t help it.

  80. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I don’t like the idea of trying to hold McDonald’s responsible for this. No one is harmed in a case like this. Why does everyone feel they have some kind of right not to be offended by anything or anyone?

  81. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @plustax: Because it’s impossible to distinguish between someone with a phobia and someone who’s a bigot?

  82. etherealclarity says:

    @youbastid: Yes, it’s irrational. Yes, I sympathize.

    Note that I’ve mostly been responding to arguments like “it’s not a real phobia” or “people can completely control themselves if they have a phobia”, not that it’s reasonable for those people to work in situations where they have to confront that phobia.

  83. Narockstar says:

    I used to work at a place with an escalator. Lots of people are terrified of escalators. It boggles the mind. Anyways, I started to wonder if it’s society that fosters these phobias. I understand them in children, but most people outgrow them and I think that those who don’t have too much time on their hands and like being afraid and feeling sorry for themselves. And they get labeled phobic and handled with gloves on, treated special.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can also understand a fear of heights and snakes and such because they can actually kill you, but being afraid of the innocuous is indulgent.

  84. etherealclarity says:

    @katylostherart: This is the most reasonable comment I’ve heard so far.

  85. TheUncleBob says:

    @Adam Hyland: I think you misunderstand, I’m not trying to blame the victim at all here. I’m just pointing out that those who think this woman should have acted differently just don’t understand how a phobia works and that the idea of not hiring someone to do a job because they have a medical condition isn’t always a possibility.

    For the record, I am 100% against the enforcement of the ADA (although I agree with the idea behind it, I just don’t think it’s the government’s place to tell private property owners how they have to run their private property).

    Should this customer have gotten a free meal or such? Sure.

  86. etherealclarity says:

    @Narockstar: Indulgent? It’s not like it’s under their control. Even people who seek therapy or medication often can’t get over their phobias, no matter how irrational it may seem. I don’t think those with phobias should get special treatment, but a little compassion would be nice!

  87. ratnerstar says:

    Khuzdophobia? Someone give me a reference to make me believe that condition (and that name) is recognized by the medical community. Excuse me for being a little skeptical, but that sounds made-the-hell-up, and a quick google search doesn’t provide any legitimate references.

    Phobias really do exist, but, like a lot of serious mental problems, they are delegitimized in the public eye by tons of pop-psych BS. There’s a different between being freaked out by seeing little people and having a legitimate phobia.

  88. ChuckECheese says:

    @warf0x0r: Are they little pickles?

    @CitizenOutKast: & @etherealclarity: It is situations like this that the phrase “get a grip” was made for. As adults we are responsible for our behavior, despite how we might feel. We begin teaching our children this value at a very young age–or at least we should. Feelings don’t trump behavior. This was one of my biggest annoyances with modern psychotherapy, and a main reason why I quit doing it. I got so tired of whiny clients telling me they “couldn’t” do something because of their feelings. I would then introduce them to the methods of cognitive-behavioral therapies, which most of them hated, because CBT basically refuses to allow you to make excuses for your negative behavior–you are expected to keep forging ahead toward your sanity goals without looking back. I discovered that there are limits to sympathy, and that sympathy is a very ineffective tool for change, although it is a great program if your goal is to have lots of dependent patients paying you for weekly sessions.

  89. Said Not says:

    How can you call him an idiot? He didn’t do anything wrong here.

    SHE is the idiot. It’s like someone with Thalassophobia (fear of ocean/water etc) becoming a lifeguard. She took a job knowing she could eventually run into someone with dwarfism and it’s her responsibility for whatever this guy had to go through.

  90. TheUncleBob says:

    @Adam Hyland: “Screaming “oh my gosh, oh my gosh” and running around like a chicken with the head cut off aren’t automatic nervous system responses.”

    Forgot to respond to that part. We’re not talking about an “automatic nervous system response”. We’re talking about someone’s brain not working properly. It’s an irrational fear of something. I’d almost bet this woman knows her fear is irrational. She knows her brain isn’t working properly when it’s processing the information. What do you typically get as a response from something when it’s not working properly? Garbage.

    Again, walk up to your wife with a snake. Let me know if she calmly excuses herself or stands completely still, frozen with fear.

    I worked with a cashier at a Wal*Mart who was crazy-afraid of snakes. To the point where she couldn’t even be around a fake, toy snake. One time, while zoning, she found a toy snake and *freaked*. Even after it was determined it was a toy, she still refused to go anywhere near it and freaked out when some immature employees attempted to approach her with it. It wasn’t because she disliked the toy or wanted to embarrass it or was being childish – it was because she had an irrational fear – and would even admit the fear was irrational – but when forced to face that fear, again, her brain would not properly respond.

  91. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Adam Hyland: You decided here that because your wife’s phobia is not severe enough to cause her to act the way the cashier did that nobody’s phobia can be that severe.

  92. Adam Hyland says:

    @AaronC: Again: If companies are not held liable for the actions of employees, they will not seek to train and select good employees. Legal action and the threat of legal action protects you in cases where regulation is not advisable or not possible. Rather than having a law saying that clerks can’t embarrass customers, we allow for civil penalties. This is a good solution. It isn’t the best solution, but the best solution is impossible to achieve.

  93. tinky XIII says:

    @Said Not: Exactly. If you’re afraid of a certain group of people, don’t get a job that could expose yourself to said group.

  94. Adam Hyland says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: DOn’t limit my argument to demeaning her phobia. I’ve said plenty of times that she was only one link in a chain that should have been severed to solve this problem at the lowest level.

    That being said, her response to the phobia is still her responsibility. If she runs around screaming and can’t be calmed down then that is her problem, not his. It doesn’t make her a bad person. It doesn’t mean that the phobia is “wrong” or “illegitimate”. It means that she should have reacted differently, and she didn’t.

  95. Juggernaut says:

    The insensitivity of some people is really frightening but I have to tell you if it had been a black dwarf or a giant Mexican, I would have lost it too.

  96. Adam Hyland says:

    @TheUncleBob: I’m sorry for being rude to you. I think I was still partially responding to the trolls in the first 10-20 posts suggesting that it was his fault for being short.

    But I think I still disagree about the phobia outcome. Just because something triggers the limbic system and pushes us to act in an irrational way does not mean that a free pass is given.

    E.g. If I am awoken at 2AM and pushed around or shoved, I might respond by hitting someone or kicking or running, mostly because I am basically still sleeping. I don’t, however, get to continue to act that way 5 minutes after I have woken up just because the first few seconds were out of my control.

    And in the end, it doesn’t matter if her fear is legit or not. she could actually not have a phobia. She could just have been ignorant and stupid. The company’s responsibility is the same either way. This had a simple solution, give the short guy a happy meal :).

  97. Narockstar says:

    @etherealclarity: Yes. I believe many fears (especially self-diagnosed phobias) are indulgent and the result of an indulgent society. I don’t believe that many of these people are truly mentally ill. I didn’t say all. And those who seek treatment are strong individuals, but I don’t think that many people even try because there isn’t anything at stake.

    Most people would get on the escalator eventually because there were no refunds and no elevator. Hmmm…only $25 to get over your insane fear?

  98. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    DOn’t limit my argument to demeaning her phobia.

    @Adam Hyland: I’m not. I was responding to “I’m not pretending to be a doctor” part of the comment. I should have quoted the part of your comment I was responding to; it was not meant to be a reply to the whole thing.

  99. etherealclarity says:

    @Adam Hyland: I don’t disagree with your conclusion “give the short guy a happy meal :)”. I do disagree with your attitude that everyone has the ability to control themselves in that situation. You can not give someone a “free pass” and still have compassion for them. Trust me, it’s not fun to be partially out of control of your actions… especially for a control freak who strongly advocates personal responsibility (me). I don’t demand to work in a hospital where people throw up quite often (as an emetephobe, that’d be just plain dumb), but when I freak out because someone drank too much and had to run to the bathroom, someone saying “that’s not rational” or saying that I should just stop shaking is unaware of what’s really going on. (Incidentally, usually in those situations if I’m friends with the person I’ll apologize that I couldn’t be of help in the situation, but I’d imagine that would be more difficult if you were actually phobic of the individual.)

  100. Consumer007 says:

    Ummmmm…they CAN’T be taking it that seriously if they haven’t fricking apologized to the OP….duh.

  101. etherealclarity says:

    @Narockstar: Don’t fool yourself. If they were actually phobic of escalators, they were likely terrified the entire time and did not get over their phobia just by facing it that once. Exposure therapy helps sometimes, sometimes it makes it worse.

    And what exactly is your basis for the belief you have that most phobias are “indulgent” (voluntary)?

  102. Pithlit says:

    @Narockstar: Yes, because experiencing a phobic response is so pleasant. People who suffer such afflictions enjoy how it adversely affects their lives. Sickening, isn’t it? That whole mental health thing is such a racket.

  103. TheUncleBob says:

    @Pithlit: To be fair, some people thrive on the attention they get from “flaunting” their “condition”. I’m not saying that has anything to do with the story, but, for some people, the “whole mental health thing is such a racket”.

  104. Carencey says:

    I see a lot of posts siding with the phobia and saying that the guy should just accept being treated rudely…now I wonder what would happen if the person with the phobia was the customer that posted here? Would the same posters be blaming her for the phobia?

    A customer with dwarfism should be treated like any other customer. If he isn’t, it’s poor customer service, and the restaurant should apologize. Whether the phobia should be considered a disability (I doubt the employee thought of it as one until this incident) and how the employee should be dealt with are side issues, especially since it appears from the story that the only negative consequences were group retraining.

  105. The Porkchop Express says:

    While her reaction was about as rude as you can get aside from making jokes to the guy’s face, she can’t help if she is afraid of something. As many have said: phobias are irrational and intense fears of something. You. Can’t. Help. It.

    Also, how is McDonald’s supposed to know this would happen? Do they ask you if you’re afraid of little people when you go in for the McInterview?

  106. The Porkchop Express says:

    @jimv2000: Also the fear of snakes and spiders doesn’t make sense to some people. I personally like spiders and snakes, I also may have a thing for little people(but that’s for me and my shrink to discuss)

  107. Landru says:

    It’s both “Blame the Victim” and “Be a Dick” day.

  108. etherealclarity says:

    @Carencey: No, what you see are a bunch of people responding to those who say “that’s a ridiculous phobia, grow up.”

    I don’t think there’s anyone who has posted who doesn’t really think he should have been given a free meal or something. It was absolutely rude! He deserved at least an apology or something.

    But as someone who HAS an irrational phobia (which is like saying PIN Number, as a phobia is defined as irrational), people saying “just get over it” deeply upsets me.

  109. karmaghost says:

    Maybe she didn’t know she had Khuzdophobia until the instant that the guy walked up to the counter and peeked over.

  110. magisimo says:

    I have to say, as a long-time consumerist reader and myself a dwarf, I find some of the comments in this thread to be unbelievably offensive.

    I’ve spent my entire life having to deal with comments like those above, and have developed a pretty thick skin. However I’m much more offended by some of the posts here then that of the actions of the McDonalds’ employee discussed in the main post. Dwarves are one of the few groups of people that society still thinks it has free reign to belittle and deprecate, and this forum shows how pervasive this attitude remains in our society.

    Why should I have to accept being ridiculed? What makes me different from someone being bullied for their ethnicity, or someone being denied equal treatment because they are disabled? Why is it so accepted in our society to cast dwarves in such a derogatory light?

    What really bothers me is the ignorance that has been shown throughout this thread. I’m sure many of you will tell me to get over myself and not stop making such a fuss, but I’m tired of having to accept the current view of dwarves as a class of people that is still allowed to be ridiculed.

    Ethan has every right to be treated as a human being. Many of the comments in this thread are downright appalling and I’m ashamed to consider myself as part of the Consumerist community right now.

  111. Pithlit says:

    I don’t believe it. Sorry. There is no way that people choose to have these afflictions to the degree you say they are. Any positive feedback will be greatly outweighed by the negative. Some may seek attention because of them as some form of coping mechanism, it is true, but that in no way makes it any less legitimate. A small few may actually be faking it, but then it’s likely some issue that drives them to do so. Just because there are Munchausen sufferers doesn’t mean physical diseases like cancer aren’t real, does it?

    I think 99.9% of the time people say things like “they’re just flaunting their condition” that person is dealing with their own issues and projecting. Unless you’re in that person’s head or are their doctor, you can’t know for certain they’re deliberately faking a reaction or symptom, so you really don’t know how many are actually suffering and how many are just seeking attention. So, if someone tells you they suffer from a crippling phobia, it’s pretty safe to believe them. It’s no fun, and letting people know ahead of time when they know they may be facing that phobia can be helpful. It does no one any good to brush them off as an attention seeker. People are too quick to dismiss diseases just because they deal with the mind, and it’s unfortunate.

  112. Pithlit says:

    @Carencey: I think you have it wrong. I don’t think most people who are defending phobias necessarily think the customer has no complaint. I know phobias are real as I suffer from one, but I also think the customer has a valid complaint. He isn’t asking for money or to have her fired, after all. McDonald’s needs to offer him an apology. I think those who are defending phobias are reacting to the comments from people who claim that phobics are just overreacting for the attention.

  113. Carencey says:

    @Lo-Pan: But the customer didn’t demand that the employee be fired, and he isn’t suing the company (or at least he hasn’t said he is)…he’s just waiting for an apology for the rude treatment. I would certainly argue for compassion for the employee if someone was trying to get her fired over something she can’t control, but that’s not happening, and it looks like the only one harmed here was the customer.

    @etherealclarity: Oh, I don’t agree with the ‘just get over it’ remarks on either side. I just get the feeling that a lot of the earlier posts were again motivated by a ‘blame the poster (or customer)’ attitude, and if the employee customer with a phobia were asking for consideration, the very same folks who were telling him to just get over it would be telling her to get over too. Or that’s a very long way of saying that they’d still be blaming the poster if the tables were turned.

  114. Pithlit says:

    @Pithlit: This should have been a response to TheUncleBob

  115. Carencey says:

    @Carencey: oops–“if the employee was a customer with a phobia asking for consideration”

  116. girl comatose says:

    Small world. I actually got to know Ethan through my church’s youth group. He’s a really cool guy.

    What really gets me, though, is that he only went inside because his order was screwed up, and in all the kerfluffle about his dwarfism, his order was never corrected.

    Seriously, give this man a coupon.

  117. warf0x0r says:

    @MercuryPDX: No I ment the fear of pickles was ridiculous as is all things on the Morrey P. show.

    @etherealclarity: I’m sorry if there are people who suffer from things they cannot control. That may be contradictory to my first post… I guess I should simply state that I don’t believe the McD’s employee had an actual phobia unless someone can prove it to me otherwise.

    BTW I cannot find a technical term for a fear of people with drawfism, do you know it?

  118. axykatt says:

    I have worked in the service industry for many years. During that time I had an employee who had a phobia of small people. She was an excellent employee and offered first-class customer service to all of our valued patrons. We were aware of her phobia, and normally if she saw a little person coming to the store she would excuse herself before they got near the counter and go into the back room. One afternoon she was very busy and did not notice a little person walk into the store. She looked up from the counter and saw him, screamed, and fainted. When she came to a few seconds later he was still standing near her and she began screaming and crying and had to be carried to the back room. She was unable to finish her shift that day or return to work the next.

    This young lady was an excellent employee and did not have any problems performing her normal job duties. She was friendly, efficient, and pleasant to be around, she just also had an odd phobia which under normal circumstances would not have caused a problem. The young woman from MacDonald’s may also have normally dealt with the situation differently, but was caught off guard. You wouldn’t blame an employee for slipping in a puddle of water that had not been on the floor seconds ago. She may have just been surprised and did not have the opportunity to deal with the situation better.

  119. antirem says:

    Your a bunch of insensitive fucks here… I hope your all drafted and get your knees blown off for poetic justice.*

    *for the most part… not everyone here is an asshole

  120. thesabre says:


    I have emetophobia as well. I feel for you. I don’t think people will really ever understand it. I can’t go to bars, I can’t go to amusement parks.. nowadays I can barely watch any good TV shows or movies… it sucks.

  121. homerjay says:

    @warf0x0r: My guess is that the girl with the pickles was molested with a pickle as a child. And yes, I’m serious.

  122. thalia says:

    You know, I have a friend who has a serious phobia of clowns. Sure, clowns are human beings with painted faces, but that doesn’t mean he won’t scream and run away if one walked into his workplace. Yet people always assume that he’s just being an idiot or being irrational. Sorry, but no matter how silly it seems, you can’t help having a phobia.

    Seriously, are we all suggesting that people with phobias should be punished or unallowed to work at a crappy job like McDonalds? It’s not like she harmed him or anything. And you can’t just say “Go to a therapist and get it fixed”. Psychology isn’t magic!

  123. etherealclarity says:

    @warf0x0r: Someone else found it earlier… Khuzdophobia.

    @thesabre: Man, I remember when I thought I was the only one! No one else could POSSIBLY have this fear. Then I joined the “emetophobia” community on LJ. :)

  124. Daryl26 says:

    @Adam Hyland: Seems perfectly reasonable to compare fear of him, to fear of spiders and snakes, it’s fears, it makes no distinction. It is a phobia, thus it is irrational, and extreme fear. So if you have a phobia of dwarfs, or spiders, or snakes, or the color yellow, and your surprised by seeing either, the reaction will be the same.

    Also, to respond to your other comments, it is impossible, for anyone with a phobia, that has received any therapy to react i a calm manner and excuse themselves. If it were possible, it wouldn’t be irrational, thus it wouldn’t be a phobia in the first place.

    Lastly, to respond to the comments stating that she shouldn’t of worked there in the first place. One has to understand here the fact that this isn’t fear of just people, it’s fear of people who happen to suffer from dwarfism. The percentage of people that suffer from dwarfism in any given population is rather small, hell, I went 19 years of my life without seeing a person suffering from this condition, and only saw them at the University Campus, have yet to see them outside the campus. So it’s probable she has never seen anyone suffering from dwarfism her whole life apart from the first traumatic experience that caused the phobia in the first place, and even possible that a short person wasn’t even involved in that experience at all. So, this employee probably wasn’t even thinking that this phobia would affect her work at all because it hasn’t affected her much during her life in the first place.

  125. warf0x0r says:

    @etherealclarity: Okay thanks.

    Here’s a question though. I hate spiders. I’m afraid of them especially if their bigger than a nickel. I scream and run and then usually feel the need to kill them. I once killed one in a public place and someone got angry with me and said I didn’t have any right to do that and that I was a jerk.

    They were right. I felt like my “phobia” justified my actions.

    So I’m curious. Do people feel that their actions are justified by their phobias?

    Seriously, I’m curious to know what people think.

  126. etherealclarity says:

    @warf0x0r: Depends on how your actions are affecting others. I don’t see anything wrong with you killing a spider. I kill spiders when I see them too. That’s well within the range of normal human reactions, really.

    On the other hand, if you had a fear of dwarves and that prompted you to kill one, there’s NO justification for that. You’d belong in a mental institution because you were a danger to society even though it’s not under your control.

  127. lonewolf333 says:
  128. youbastid says:

    @nursethalia: That’s a pretty dumbass assertion. Clowns paint their faces and dress up by choice. A dwarf is a dwarf.

  129. Amelia Subverxin says:

    Reading the story itself, the customer had ordered from the drive-thru but did not receive what he ordered. That’s why he went inside the restaurant. He says that the shift manager and store manager apologized, but they never even followed up and corrected his order from the drive thru!

    That’s what I feel is ridiculous. A manager could have taken care of this easily by giving a heartfelt apology, correcting the man’s order, giving him an Arch card and promising to work on customer service training.

  130. Buran says:

    I’m sorry, there’s no excuse for this kind of thing. If something makes you uneasy, remove yourself from it IN A POLITE FASHION. Especially when the cause of your troubles is sentient. I think the worker should be severely reprimanded for what she did, and be required to apologize personally to the customer, and mean it, or lose her job.

  131. ColdBlood3d says:

    A friend of mine has the same phobia. He is deathly afraid of little people, and will cross the street if he sees one coming his way. We did not believe it was a real phobia and ordered a midget stripper for his bachelor party. He ran away screaming as soon as he saw her, so this is a real phobia suffered by real people. Besides, shouldn’t a little person be kinda used to strange reactions???

  132. Buran says:

    @ColdBlood3d: It’s called “tact”. Crossing the street is one thing. Publicly doing everything possible to call attention to someone who can’t control their genetics is totally another. We’re blaming this woman for picking the wrong way to “fix” the “sitation” and then both her and her employer failing to apologize and MEAN it.

  133. teapartys_over says:

    Wow. For some reason you blame the victim people are all for coddling the phobia but not the short guy. Is that because he had a problem with your favorite people, corporations? If the employee with the phobia were suing McDonalds for discriminating against her, I guarantee you’d be blaming her and saying she never should have been working customer service in the first place. I’m with the people who compare this to fear of black people. It is your problem if you want to work in customer service – whether it’s a fear or just a bias – not the poor guy’s problem who just wants to get a burger and get through his day with some dignity.

    I’m really hating this site, and I blame myself for reading the comments. In the future I won’t.

  134. warf0x0r says:

    @Buran: I agree as per my previous post I used to scream and kill spiders. Now when one of those bastards jumps out at me I suck it up and try to move them out, unless their too big.

  135. Adam Hyland says:

    @Daryl26: Notwithstanding, the response from management should have been the same as if she was in the wrong.

  136. @speedwell: Have you ever seen a full-on panic attack in action? It can be a good fifteen minutes before you have anything RESEMBLING control over your actions.

  137. jimv2000 says:

    @Adam Hyland:

    Actually, the quote you gave supports what I said. He couldn’t believe that she’d be scared of him like someone else might be scared of spiders. I don’t see what you don’t understand about that.

    And I really don’t see why an apology is needed. I fail to see how he was embarrassed any more than the employee who was seen running away screaming from a midget. These things happen, and I personally don’t think someone should get a payout or apology (because there’s nothing for the company to apologize for) everytime.

    By the way, I didn’t distort anything. I used a “direct quote” like you did. I copied it right out of the article. The guy is a prick for suggesting that someone’s phobia is unacceptable…as though they could control it. THAT’S WHY IT’S A PHOBIA.

  138. jimv2000 says:


    Give me a break. It didn’t hurt his dignity any more that the girl hurt her own dignity by running away screaming.

    I’m not blaming the “victim”. I’m say that there is no “victim”.

  139. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    For some reason you blame the victim people are all for coddling the phobia but not the short guy.

    @teapartys_over: False dilemma.

    Just because I don’t expect someone to act calmly in the face of whatever their phobia happens to be doesn’t mean I blame the customer. He deserves an apology and compensation. But that doesn’t mean you can just switch off a phobia either. If people with phobias could easily react normally to them they wouldn’t be called phobias.

  140. jimv2000 says:


    “Publicly doing everything possible to call attention to someone who can’t control their genetics “

    Because she was startled and ran away screaming? I hardly call that “doing everything possible to call attention” to his dwarfism. This guy might look at the situation and realize that she’s the one who ended up with more embarassment than him.

  141. jimv2000 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    ” He deserves an apology and compensation.”

    Why? He wasn’t harmed, he got his food, it’s over. Dear god, if I owned the place I would apologize…but give him something? Hell no.

  142. .
    kelmeister said . . . I don’t know what my point is.

    kelmeister, I think I love you.

  143. Trai_Dep says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: “Is there such thing as a phobia related to black people?”

    Err, Republican?

  144. CumaeanSibyl says:

    It’s not quite fair to say that the cashier shouldn’t have a job serving the public. After all, what are the odds of running into a little person in your everyday life? It’s not like those conditions are terribly common.

    I’m pretty sure McDonald’s could’ve handled this better. If the manager had apologized and given him some coupons at the time — not even a free meal, necessarily, just some decent coupons — we probably wouldn’t be hearing about it right now.

  145. Adam Hyland says:

    @jimv2000: that’s your call. Then you would show up on consumerist and look like a douche. But if you gave away a fucking happy meal for the low low cost of like 2 dollars (or whatever), this would never have been an issue.

    Businesses aren’t some sort of cosmic pissing contest between customers and business owners. You don’t get made into a prison bitch because you apologize, even if you weren’t wrong. And you might make a happy future customer.

    Scenario 1. You decide that she didn’t do anything wrong and this guy doesn’t deserve anything:

    the guy says to his friends later “Man, I went to jimv2000’s business and I got treated like a fool then told that there was no big deal”

    Scenario 2. You apologize and give him a happy meal.

    the guys says to his friends: “hey, there was this crazy clerk at jimv2000’s business, but he smoothed everything out and gave me a free meal for my troubles. It was totally cool.”

    See which is better free advertising?

  146. @Carencey: “I see a lot of posts siding with the phobia and saying that the guy should just accept being treated rudely”

    I don’t think he should accept being treated rudly; imagining myself in his position, I think I would have been absolutely mortified and wanted to melt through the floor. It’s an intolerable way to be treated, and as someone who is visibly different than others, I’m sure other people being assholes is something he’s dealt with for a long time.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, he should, at the same time, attempt to have some compassion for the clerk. Not that he should be her best friend or even ever want to see her again, but he should similarly attempt to put himself in HER shoes and think about how she must have felt (I’m guessing, once she quit panicking, mortified, embarrassed, and like she wanted to melt through the floor.)

    Assuming she has a legitimate phobia, it’s a suck situation all around. He should NEVER have to put up with being treated without dignity because of his physical appearance; but SHE shouldn’t be excoriated for a condition she can’t control.

    It’s unfortunate, but probably the only solution is for the manager to apologize profusely to the customer and offer at least some token of apology in the form of free food; and to have a sit-down with the employee about how serious the problem is, whether she can afford therapy that might help (at a McFood salary, probably not), and whether there are alternatives that wouldn’t involve direct customer contact.

    @warf0x0r: “Do people feel that their actions are justified by their phobias?”

    Since I’m primarily creeped out by creepy feet-that-look-like-little-pink-hands on animals, and they have to touch me for me to panic, it’s not something that comes up a lot, but I do have a friend who breeds exotic mice, and she always wants me to hold them and gets really offended when I don’t want to. I do feel more or less like an ass for not acquiescing to what’s a pretty harmless request, and I always feel embarrassed and on-the-spot. However, I suspect she’d like it less when I started freaking out and dropped the $200 mouse and started screaming and dancing around to get away from it.

    (She’s “decided” I need exposure therapy to creepy feet. I’ve decided since that it’s not something that comes up a lot in every day life, I’ll just avoid them, thanks.)

    @Buran: “If something makes you uneasy, remove yourself from it IN A POLITE FASHION.”

    Again, if someone is having a panic reaction, THEY CANNOT REACT POLITELY. If something makes you uneasy, that’s one thing. If something makes you PANIC, your reactions are not under your control. When I’ve had full-on panic attacks, it’s easily taken more than 15 minutes before my reactions are under my conscious control, and I’ve had CBT to help me control them!

  147. forgottenpassword says:

    I can see how this is a valid phobia (little people are unusual looking). But the McDs cashier needs to be in the back instead of manning the cash register where the possibility of running into a little person is… well …. possible.

  148. forgottenpassword says:


    in other words…. the dwarf has a valid issue/complaint & the cashier & McDs is at fault here.

  149. JohnOB1 says:

    How come this wasn’t logged under “Taking it Seriously?”

  150. evilhapposai says:

    Dont get a job where you would be exposed to problems? This is MCDONALDS not a professional position. Chances are as many people that work minimum wages/fast food there are NO other jobs they can do or find. I am sick of people saying just to pull up and move somewhere else as a solution it is NOT that easy for most people to find another job.

    As for the dwarf…the “you know I was thinking a coupon or something” quote just proves he is just trying to exploit his condition for freebies or excuses to sue someone. These types discust me.

  151. Buran says:

    @jimv2000: Then what do you suggest be done to draw even more attention than doing something that gets everyone to turn and stare at whatever caused the panic?

  152. Buran says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Yes. You can. I’ve panicked about things before and not made an ass of myself because I knew going in that the panic might happen. And I wasn’t being paid for it!

  153. low_dirt says:

    wow, i’ve never laughed so hard at Consumerists comments! awesome! Especially these uber-sensitive PC types who are so up in arms that the lady was freaked. hahaha i love their ‘offensensitivity’! Good ol PC culture never ceases to entertain me. The lengths they go to show how “sensitive” and “compassionate” they are… keep it up! and just to show I’m fair, feel free to make fun of skinny white computer nerds. I welcome it! Laughter eases my lower back pain!

  154. ExecutorElassus says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Heh. You must not have heard about one of Buffalo’s less-savory moments. They were home of the first court case where the defense tried the racism defense, based on the following scenario:
    *guy dings another guy at stoplight. guy in front is black; guy in back is white.
    *black guy gets out, starts walking towards white guy in back
    *guy in back pulls out gun, shoots guy in front dead.
    *the defense? As he was raised in lily-white Amherst, he was given a deep fear of all the black people ghettoized down in Buffalo. So he was fearing for his life and pulled his gun, because the man walking towards him happened to be black.
    (dangit! why can’t I remember the particulars of the case, so I can cite something?!)

    Back to our regular program schedule: what is with you people? He’s not upset because someone with a phobia got anxious, broke out in a sweat, and had breathing problems. He’s bothered because she ran around totally hysterical. And the company didn’t apologize, or handle it. At all. It’s absolutely their fault for putting an idiot out front without training her to serve all their customers. Like Adam Hyland said: there was a chain, and they didn’t muster the integrity/pride/decency to break it.

  155. Pithlit says:

    This thread just reminded me of one of my crazier phobic moments. My husband and I were getting some boxes out of storage, and I looked down and saw a big, brown hairy spider on my chest. With one quick movement I flung my shirt off my body and threw it across the room, screaming my bloody head off.

    Thank God I wasn’t out in public at the time.

  156. evilhapposai says:

    One more important fact to add. There is NO LAW giving a person the right to NOT to be offended. There are alot of people and posters that seem to think that there is.

  157. alexanderpink says:

    I’m no sure that Khuzdophobia is actually an accepted term for fear of little people. A quick google search on the term only reveals 2 pages of results, none of which are reputable. Also, if you refer to the DSM-IV section on phobias: [] it says that adults will recognize their fear as excessive and irrational. Thus, even if the woman was confronted with her greatest fear and acted in th way she did legitimately, she should realize it was irrational and offer apology by way of her co-worker. That said, I am sure little people have to put up with all kinds of shit on a daily basis, so I don’t think people should blame the guy for being sensitive in this case (I normally think everyone is way too sensitive).

  158. Did anyone watch Dr Phil (? — Not certain that was it, and you really should NOT be watching that show), but they had people with all sorts of bat-shit crazy phobias. This girls fear of pickles stands out to me and Good lord, she cried just seeing pictures of pickles.

    So this person was unreasonably afraid of something (in this instance a person who is abnormally small), why in the world should someone get free food for this? The person behind the counter, without question, looked like the villain to the other customers.

    Is the consumerist turning into an outlet for wacky news and stories?

  159. Adam Hyland says:

    @evilhapposai: It isn’t a law. Laws usually don’t govern all corporate interactions. Most interactions are governed by contracts which are enforced by civil law. In this case, there isn’t a contract, but there is an expectation that a customer not be treated like this, regardless of cause.

    that expectation is enforced not by the state but by customers and sites like this. that’s why we sometimes see crazy stories or stories that might go either way, because the only defense against actions done by corporations that fails to fall under criminal or civil liability is publicity. This customer was mistreated, maybe not by the clerk (as that is obviously up for debate), but certainly by the manager and the franchise. Their outlet is word of mouth and us.

  160. ChuckECheese says:

    @Pithlit: You’re right, mental health is a racket. In today’s post about the CVS pharmacy, a commenter mentioned a blog called “the angry pharmacist.” It’s an amusing read if you can get past the blue language. He has a lot of insight into people who refuse, despite having had tons of medical and other attention, and years of meds, refusing to do even one thing on their own to improve their health. His story about the woman who purchased her diabetic meds and 4 candy bars, two of which she unwrapped and began eating before paying for them, should be a classic in the genre of face-slapping irresponsibility.

    People afflicted with pity-me wear their diagnosis (whether physical or mental) like a police siren and do not make the connection that they must expend effort to prevail in the face of their perceived adversities. There should, at worst, be parity between the afflicted/phobic person’s expectation of sympathy, and society’s expectation that they behave appropriately and responsibly despite shortcomings.

  161. ChuckECheese says:

    @Voyou_Charmant: can you imagine working at McD’s and being afraid of pickles? How about ketchup? The little guy deserves free food because it’s rude for a business to embarrass him publicly when he has done nothing wrong. That is reason enough. We’re talking hamburgers here, not big bucks. Actually, if bystanders didn’t know exactly what had happened–and they probably didn’t–then they probably thought the problem was with the dwarf, not the cashier, at least until somebody told them otherwise.

    And yes, the Consumerist is like Fark, only about shopping.

  162. Slytherin says:

    @justdan: @jgarra: @surgesilk: @surgesilk: @greatgoogly: @LetMeGetTheManager:


  163. Slytherin says:


    LOL!!!!!!! OMG, y’all are cracking me up!!!!

  164. Slytherin says:
  165. Raziya says:

    To everyone talking about her reaction…

    I am really afraid of bees. It drives my fiancé crazy, because, as a grown adult, I scream and run and freak out everytime one might even be remotely near me, or if ANYTHING buzzes by my head that I think might be a bee. There are somethings that are just hard to control, and I do try to think about my reaction, but every time there is a bee, I still react the exact same way. :

    Also, my mom’s partner (who is almost 50) has this same phobia of dwarves. She’s had it her entire life and I know if it were her, she would have reacted similarly. For those of you who don’t have a serious phobia…GG. Don’t act like you know how these people should react, because you won’t know ’til it’s you.

  166. Pithlit says:

    @ChuckECheese: But often people truly can’t help themselves. Otherwise they would be just like you and me. Mental illness isn’t that different than any other kinds of illnesses. It’s like any aspect of health. Sometimes people can help themselves to be healthier which helps to alleviate or even cure any physical problems, too. Sometimes the problem goes beyond anything the patient can do for themselves. Some people with mental health issues can indeed help themselves, but sometimes the problems just go too deep and the person truly can’t help it.

    I’ll use my own phobia for example, since I’ve already mentioned it. Of course it’s not the worst thing in the world to be afflicted with, but believe me, if I could wave a wand and make it disappear, I would. It affects my life daily. I’ve tried to do things to alleviate it, and to a certain extend I’ve been successful. But, I truly don’t think it will ever go away completely. My response is completely out of my control. I cannot help it. And I’m only talking about one measley little phobia, here. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those with far more serious problems. I think people are far too quick to dismiss mental health issues because it seems to the outsider as thought the person could really change their behavior if they really wanted to. But, sometimes, they really can’t.

  167. Pithlit says:

    @ChuckECheese: As far as diabetes goes, I truly fear ever having such a diagnosis. I love sweets. I keep them to a minimum because I like to be fit and in shape. But I shudder to think about having to give them up completely. So I do have some empathy for the diabetic who has that candy bar. She absolutely should be proactive in her health. Of course, the guy telling the story doesn’t know those candy bars are for her. My 6th grade teacher was diabetic, and yet she bought some girl scout cookies from me. When I asked her why, she said she wanted to support our troop and planned on giving them away. Of course, then there’s the case of my diabetic great grandmother eating a whole pie after her doctor told her one little taste wouldn’t kill her. Human beings are flawed, sad to say.

  168. humphrmi says:

    This is like a stand-up comedy opening line, “So the dwarf walks into the Khuzdophobia convention…”

    How likely for a Khuzdophobe to have to serve a Dwarf? Wow, the statistics are probably staggering.

    I think both sides need to go back to their corners and cool off. The dwarf deserves better treatment but the business can’t discriminate against either him or the Khuzdophobe.

  169. galatae says:

    You know, most people won’t be exposed to a little person more than a handful of times in their lifetime, so if this story brings some exposure then I’m glad Mr. Wade’s getting his 15 minutes.

    @magisimo Well said, sir.

  170. Youthier says:

    I feel bad for everyone involved here! The customer was humiliated but I’m sure the worker was too. I have a friend with this phobia and it embarrasses her. She doesn’t want to be afraid of little people – she’s a kind, sweet woman who wants to accept everyone.

  171. uberbucket says:

    I used to have a bad phobia of porcelain dolls. If I walked into a room that had one on display I would be instantly paralyzed with fear. Now they just sort of give me the creeps, but I’d still never sleep in the same room with one.

    People’s reaction to phobias manifest in many different ways. I don’t find her reaction to a one-in-a-million chance phobia exposure unrealistic.

  172. Lashes says:

    The issue here is not that someone with a phobia was expected to act rationally, but that they should have acted professionally. Attempt some damage control! There was no need for the second employee to compare this guy to spiders and snakes; actually, if he had earned an apology right there, the situation might have gotten a lot better. Why make excuses for this employee as though SHE has been wronged? Yes, she has a phobia, and it sucks to be freaked out to the point of hysteria. The customer is right though- he is a human being, and a customer too.

  173. jediknight says:

    “Wade said he has no intention of filing s lawsuit. He said he is working with an attorney because he wants to go through all the right channels to make sure McDonald’s will be sure their workers receive disability awareness training.”

    This was posted on the local news website.

    It seems to me that he was never looking for a freebie but rather an apology.

    When nothing happened at the local store he spoke to the regional franchise office and then had to endure more humiliation being compared to a snake or spider. Their response was to do nothing to the employee, no reprimand, no move to the back counter, no, “we were not aware that she had this phobia but we will be addressing it personally to make sure this doesn’t happen again to you or anyone”…NOTHING! not even an apology.

    I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for him. I also think that his actions speak for all little people. He seems to me to be an OK guy and his line about a coupon…did anyone watch the video?…seemed to me like he was making a joke.

    I think his motivation in this would be to make sure this never happens again. At least not at that store. Imagine if you were the parent and came in with your child who was a little person and the clerk acted that way. It would have been traumatic for both of you. How would that child recover? What could you say to make them feel better? Get used to it kid this is going to happen a lot? NO! So let’s say he’s looking out for the next little person that comes behind him.

    McDonald’s had so many chances to make this good, at the store, at the regional office, at the corporate level but instead they did nothing. What kind of message does that send to their consumers and their employees? They validated her fear, said it was acceptable to act in such a manner and did nothing to help her or the customer feel better about the situation.

    I’m sorry he’s not suing for money. I personally think he deserves every penny he could get. That would send a can’t just dismiss your customers and treat people this way. I don’t care if you’re a little person, African American or handicapped. Her behavior was wrong, their behavior was inexcusable.

  174. CitizenOutKast says:

    @camille_javal: No, I don’t think it was necessary, but let’s face facts: a lot of people feel the need to explain something in detail without thinking about it first. The employee probably shouldn’t have talked to Wade at all, but left that for a manager to do (while giving him his comp meal).

    People tend to want to be the “hero” or the one attention is focused on. By explaining what had happened, the employee had the focus of attention and could act like the rational, understanding person she no doubt thinks she is. Should she have done so? Nope, but then, she probably didn’t think it over first.

  175. CitizenOutKast says:

    @ChuckECheese: Fine and dandy, but do you really think someone working at McDonalds is going to be able to afford therapy? Or even consider it worth it given how slim the chance is of actually running into her fear? I’ll bet she was really surprised when it happened, and while the entire situation could have and should have been handled way better, I can understand her freaking out. She may be a very emotional (and maybe even overly-emotional) person with no prior training or effort invested into self-control. Her fault for that? Yeah, but then, I don’t run into too many people who feel they should even have self-control because they are already “decent, temperate” people.

  176. TheUncleBob says:

    The most concerning thing here is that so many people think that a person with a medical condition that offends and disturbs others should not be allowed to live a normal life with a normal job for fear that someone might be offended or disturbed.

    Now, am I talking about the customer or the employee?

  177. ChuckECheese says:

    @Pithlit: I will permit that sometimes people can’t help themselves. But one of the goals of adulthood is self-control, and that includes how you react to noxious things. The focus has to be on being better, and not on being sick (phobic in this case). It would have been possible for the woman, although upset, to have excused herself quickly without making a scene. And you aren’t allowed to add insult to injury later when justifying yourself by comparing the subject of your phobia to a critter. It displays gross immaturity, not just a phobia.

    I used to work in mental health. I didn’t give anyone a pass unless they could show me they had been and were working on change. Change is difficult. You say you have made efforts and you have seen some improvement. That is good. I will tell you that in the observation of many mental health professionals, they rarely see their clients make serious, extended efforts at improvement–usually what you see is that clients want other people to change, not themselves.

    Diabetes is epidemic, and this epidemic has occurred in a short time. The primary culprit is that people eat too much of the wrong things. In the story I referenced, the pharmacist watched his overweight diabetic customer purchase 4 candy bars, 2 of which she opened and began eating in the checkout lane, so he did know what she was doing. He can also tell, by med records, if his customers are taking their meds on time. He can also see how much they weigh by observation. If you are diabetic, maintaining a healthy weight is essential. He notes, and I would agree, although with less obscene language, that most of his diabetic customers have not taken reasonable steps to manage their health. He thinks treating them is a waste of money, which is rather cruel, but I can understand his frustration.

    A few weeks ago I ended a friendship with a woman with type 2 diabetes whose doctor said she needed to begin insulin, because her previous diet and lifestyle efforts weren’t working. My friend wanted sympathy, but I pointed out that I had seen absolutely no efforts at eating healthfully and exercising–my friend drank Pepsi all day, ate powdered mini-donuts by the boxful, and always ordered more than I when we went out to eat. She expected me to apologize for being mean, but I refused, explaining that she wouldn’t need any diabetes therapy if she would only change her behavior and stop making excuses. It is commonplace for people who can’t/don’t control themselves to blame other people and circumstances–including the disease or addiction itself–for their troubles. Silencing the blame and excuses and focusing energy on healthy actions and thoughts is the only way out.

  178. @Buran: Have you “panicked” or have you suffered a medically-diagnosed “panic attack”? There is a distinct difference, and if you’ve managed to control the latter through sheer willpower, I can think of an awful lot of people who’d like to study you so you can be applied to the rest of us for whom a decade of CBT hasn’t made an major dent in the panic attacks.

  179. HalOfBorg says:

    As for him being insensitive – all he said he wanted was a coupon or something. Sounds extremely reasonable.

  180. lesbiansayswhat says:

    Please, if someone had a fear of black people called whiteyphobia people wouldn’t be trolling about how ‘blacky’ should get over it. He got it perfectly when he said ‘I’m a human being.’ I hate the commenters here sometimes..Consumerist would you please just execute the worst offenders so we aren’t swimming in this crap?

  181. ninjatales says:

    Whatever. Phobia of dwarfs? That’s childish but then again, they work at McD.

  182. MightyCow says:

    How excited should we really get that a McDonalds counter employee does something stupid? Should McDonalds corporate be responsible when some idiot acts like an idiot? It isn’t as though the corporate handbook instructs workers, “In the event that a little person enters the store, run and scream.”

  183. OsiUmenyiora says:

    Good thing she didn’t have a phobia of fat people, because then she could never work there.

  184. Firstborn Dragon says:

    I have a phobia of needles. And you know what? I’m seeing here what I get from doctors. They just don’t belive you.

    For the people who say you can react diffrently, no you can’t. As long as you’re exposed to the source of your phobia you don’t have any real control over your actions. Mine is so sever that getting immunizations was a half hour fight, with several doctors REFUSING to deal with me.

    I get into the fight or flight mode, only shut up in an office, flight isn’t an answer. Needless to say it became fight.

    I nearly killed one doctor, or so he claims, and I almost broke another’s leg in my reaction. Even though I KNEW I needed these needles, I could not get over the fear to get them.

    And for those who think it’s EASY to deal with a phobia, don’t talk unless you’ve been there. I have tried all KINDS of things to get over mine, and it still is as bad as it’s ever been.

  185. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Q: What do you call a psychic dwarf who’s escaped from prison?
    A: A Small Medium at large.
    Sorry, I could’nt help myself.

  186. cde says:

    @youbastid: Easy. It’s a pure number’s thing. Black’s are 13% of the population. 36 million Black people not arrested in the US according to the 2002 Census. Dwarfs are

    Dwarfism is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Dwarfism, or a subtype of Dwarfism, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.

    Dwarfs are .00066 percent of the US population. There are a huge majority of the US population who will never ever even SEE a dwarf in real life (not on TV) in their entire lifetime.

  187. cde says:

    Sorry, got cut off.

    Anyway, that means that 1 in every 150,570 people in the US is a dwarf (or midget/under 4’10”). How likely would it have been to consider her unfit for customer service? Unlike black people, 4 in every 30 people is black.

    And this here midget is a hypocrite. Someone should treat him like a human but he takes offense and ignore’s someone else’s disability/humanity?

  188. cde says:

    @Buran: It didn’t make her feel uneasy. It made her feeel *OMFG I”M GOING TO DIE/INSTANT HEART ATTACK MODE* /caps. Uneasy is when a smelly customer comes in. To her it was like someone came in, got chopped in half and thousands of pounds of wet still beating internal organs and blood came pouring out on top of them. But even more graphic.

  189. cde says:

    @Buran: How about publicly blaming someone who can’t control her genetics or physical/mental state of mind.

  190. Difdi says:

    Some people react to a phobia by running and screaming. Others handle fear a little differently, and *attack* while screaming. I’m arachnophobic, but while I don’t like touching spiders (even dead ones) my reaction has little to do with running away. I try to avoid situations where I would annihilate someone’s beloved pet tarantula. Likewise, if I were phobic about a specific class of people, I would avoid any situation that would cause me to commit assault & battery.

    The ADA allows for reasonable accommodations of disabilities. This means a business located above the ground level has wheelchair ramps or an elevator. This does not mean that the boss must come out and carry wheelchair-bound people into and out of the building. This means that a business must not discriminate against a driver who has deformed legs: They can install a hand-controlled brake & throttle. This does not mean that a bus company is obligated to hire people who have no eyes, or are red-green color blind.

  191. cde says:

    @Firstborn Dragon: I have a slight phobia of needles. When I was younger, I ended up getting a deep cut from a piece of glass. I needed stitches. I was in 6/7th grade, weighing a buck 20. It took my father and two big male nurses to hold me down, the threat of being tied down to a medical board, and being bribed with both local and full anesthesia for me to stop struggling. My dad still had to hold me down, as I was shaking the entire time I was eventually being stitched up. For a small 3 inch long, 1/2 inch wide cut on my arm that had already stopped bleeding. Later on (2 years), I freaked when I had to get a regular tb shot for school. Took 30 minutes, a pissed off doctor, and my dad holding me down again. (Now 22), I just internalize the fear, always make sure I get a cute, chatty female nurse to draw blood. They always notice my anxiety and talk me through it. That, I’m more mature, and I have moved the fear. It’s no longer about needles, but about the weird pressure that builds up at the needle point when drawing blood or injecting something. Since it doesn’t always happen (Quicker or less contents to inject/amount drawn), I freak out less, and when I start to freak out, I realize that physically freaking out with a needle stuck in me would make it worse. So I just whimper and deal :/

  192. Gooz2 says:

    That sucks that she was genuinely scared, but how emberassing for the guy! I feel bad for him, regardless if it’s just a 15 min of fame thing or not. That would be humiliating! She needs to get help…

  193. gamin says:

    @Wormfather: I was waiting to see this kind
    of comment and I completely agree with you. If I tell you I have a fear
    of black people they will stone me starting with oprah and Al Sharpton

  194. etherealclarity says:

    Imagine if this same situation had occurred, only when the guy walked in she had an grand mal epileptic fit instead, and for some really strange reason, seeing a dwarf was the only thing that set off the fit.

    How would this be different?

    I’m telling you, as someone who has a phobia, the reaction is so instantaneous, so automatic, that you just don’t have time to sit and think about your reaction… you just react. It’s literally a chemical reaction that fires in your brain.

    And to the people screaming for her to get therapy or just get over it, I’m telling you right now that there is no such thing as a cure-all for something like this. Some people can be helped by hypnosis, a lot can’t (you have to be mentally susceptible to it). Some people can be helped by cognitive therapy, a lot can’t. Some people can be helped by exposure therapy, A LOT GET WORSE. There are lots of “cures” out there and many won’t help and some might make things worse… not to mention that pursuing all of these things is expensive. So a person with a phobia that they don’t have to deal with daily is much more likely to do their best to live their lives as best they can and hope they don’t face the phobia.

    All that being said, I do think an apology and a free burger or something was warranted here (as I have said in many previous comments). I do think that perhaps moving her out of customer service was a smart move for McDs. But for god’s sakes, people… it’s not like the woman with the phobia came back and compared the dwarf to his face to spiders and snakes… she did that to her coworker to explain to her COWORKER why she was reacting the way she was. She probably was still extremely anxious at that point and I seriously doubt that she meant for the guy to hear the comparison or be offended by it.

    So show her some compassion and cut her a break, just as McD’s should have shown HIM some compassion and given him an apology and a free burger.

    (And to the person who thinks he should sue, you make me very sad. Why is every little offense somehow worthy of a payout?)

  195. ManiacDan says:

    @jgarra: Phobias are irrational and uncontrollable, that’s true. But if you know for a fact that you have a phobia of a specific type of person, you absolutely cannot work in a position that puts you in contact with the public. Both people in the story have a disability. The McDonald’s worker doesn’t handle hers correctly.

  196. jediknight says:

    @etherealclarity: I’m sorry you think I am sad for wanting him to sue. I never saw this as a little offense and my issue was not with the individual my issue was with the corporation that had a chance to address it and did not. I live in Greenville, SC and have seen the news here locally. Contrary to earlier postings McDonalds never moved her to a back counter position. They pulled advetising from the station that ran the story and refused to comment, only shortly before the story ran did they come with a comment.

    Like you they took it as a little offense, it didn’t matter what happened it was SO insignificant to them that they still have offered no apology. But you can bet a lawsuit would get their attention.

    However it seems that his route is to ensure they all get the training and that suits (no pun intended) me just fine. The fact that this story has been picked up and run all over then I think McDonalds will finally listen.

  197. picardia says:

    A genuine phobia is not the same as a prejudice — it’s illogical, powerful and not easily dealt with. So if she’s honestly got a phobia of little people, well, that’s the way it is. But ITA that if she has that problem, working the register isn’t something she should EVER be doing — possibly even working in retail, period.

  198. sassypizzazz says:

    I know it’s late in the game for this, but I’d suggest everyone go read the entire article about this incident at []
    Ethan Wade’s comment about not getting anything out of the incident is taken out of context above. The article actually says he had ordered through the drive-thru and they screwed up his order, so he had to go inside to get it fixed:
    Adding insult to injury, Wade said that the restaurant never corrected his order or gave him anything to compensate for it.
    “I haven’t even gotten anything from that yet,” he said. “You know, I was thinking a coupon or something.”
    He also goes on to say in the article that he has absolutely no intention of filing a lawsuit.

  199. Wormfather says:

    @gamin: I have a fear of black people and I’m black…this joke was going somewhere but I’m tired and havnt had coffee so it’s just going to tapper off…

  200. jediknight says:

    @sassypizzazz: Thank you! I posted the same thing last night and it seems some are more content to ramble with out taking to time to look at the full story.

    He’s not suing, he’s not looking for a freebie and if you really want to see what his comment was about the coupon, was watch the video…it’s clearly a joke!

    Technically he would have paid for his meal at the drive thru right? So seems to me that if they never corrected his order then isn’t he at least owed the money he paid?

  201. etherealclarity says:

    @jediknight: I never said that I thought you were sad, I said that the thought that you think he should sue makes ME sad. I think we live in a sue-happy culture, and no, I don’t think this is something worth suing over. Clearly neither does he. An apology is good business sense, and it’s common decency, and it’s all KINDS of wonderful things, but it should never be REQUIRED in a free society. If McDonald’s wants to allow themselves to be subject to horrible press, then that’s their (dumb) business decision and I’m happy to let them drown. But suing? Please.

  202. etherealclarity says:

    @jediknight: No one’s saying that he’s suing. Someone responded that THEY think he should sue.

  203. jediknight says:

    @etherealclarity: Well said and I can accept that. However the sue happy culture seems to me to be out of a reaction for companies ignoring their consumers and this is a way for a consumer to get their attention.

    Like I said, Wade tried to work it out, store level, regional office and corporate. It wasn’t until the story ran on the news, and the “he’s retained a lawyer” line got picked up that McDonald’s even started to take notice. In thier mind he was going to sue and so they started to react. The fact that he wasn’t is even sweeter in my mind.

  204. monkeyboy13 says:

    While some people have led successful careers working at McDonald’s, most of the people working are going to be young, often in their first job, so they were probably not ready to deal with an employees unexpected phobia.

    As to the comments that she shouldn’t have chosen to work in a customer service field: As I said, it might have been her first job. Most of the places that hire people without other training are service related businesses. Also, I worked cashiering for several places for a total of 7 years or so and honestly cannot remember a little person going through my line, so she may never have thought of her phobia as a deterrent.

    As to Wade: A fear of dwarves has to be extremely rare, so it is very likely that he had never heard of it, so how could he be understanding of it, especially in the heat of the moment after he had been embarrassed by her reaction.

    He does deserve an apology and some freebies, but for corporations, apologies are gateways to lawsuits since they can imply fault. If you have ever heard “I’m sorry if you were offended,” “We are taking this matter seriously,” or the like, the company is saying they are sorry while being forced to cover their asses. Anyone trained for supervisory positions are told in situations like this “apologize without admitting fault.” Many will not give out any sort of freebie without going through a corporate office and legal department for the same reason. Wade saying he has no intension of suing will not remove the stranglehold the legal department will put on this.

  205. etherealclarity says:

    @jediknight: Ok, fair enough, but I do think that’s a more legitimate reaction (suing for the attention) when you’re talking about (for example) the lady who’s suing Best Buy for a huge amount of money because they lost her laptop and she couldn’t get their attention any other way. You’ve got property right issues there. In this situation you’ve got an offended customer. Unfortunate, yes, but no one has the right to not be offended.

  206. The Porkchop Express says:

    @Said Not: and everyone who says she should have known she would see a dwarf:

    I worked with the general public for over ten years of my life in several different types of work and I have seen exactly 3 people with dwarfism.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t possible, but it’s not like seeing a black, white, hispanic, or asain guy.

    I feel for the guy that this happened, but I don’t see any damages to be recouped or any real “fault” on anybody’s part. Could they have handled it better? yes a lot better, but it’s done with and I think everybody involved should move on.

  207. ChuckECheese says:

    @gamin: No, not Oprah! Anything but! Please don’t get out the Oprahs!

    @Eyebrows McGee: None of my comments, although they probably seem a bit cranky, should lead you to think I am unsympathetic to people with problems. On the contrary–I spent a big chunk of my life in training and working, trying to help people with emotional problems. I don’t have the perspective of one person’s experience, but the perspective of seeing many types of people with many types of problems, becoming quite involved in their circumstances, and witnessing how they dealt (or didn’t, usually didn’t) with those circumstances. A therapist would be very happy to have you as a client, as you appear self-aware, intelligent, and motivated to change, unlike about 90% of the people who show up on the couch. If you haven’t had good results with a counselor, I suggest you try another. And another.

    @ManiacDan: Phobias are irrational and extreme fears, not uncontrollable reactions. This is an important distinction that needs to be recognized. It is very unfortunate that this woman cannot control how she responds to people. The fact that she behaves this way suggests to me that she displays little self-control in other situations. This is her central problem, not her phobia. When somebody has a phobia or anxiety, and they can’t get a complete grip on the fear itself, they can be taught to manage their reaction, if not the entire syndrome.

    @CitizenOutKast: Personally I think therapy is highly overrated. I’d rather have a sympathetic ear and a beer or bourbon, and concrete assistance when called for. The issue here is her lack of self-control. If she’s 16, then I’ll assume it’s because she’s immature. If she’s 26, I’ll assume that she has spent her young adulthood plying people for sympathy and creating dramas instead of self-correcting her behavior. I think one of the most damnable heresies of modern psychobabble is that it has convinced people that emotional problems are outside their self-control, amenable only to psycho-shamans. Did you know that psych studies have shown, when a person is motivated to change, that it makes no difference at all who their therapist is, or if they get therapy at all?

    The central issue with this story is “your rights end where my nose begins.” This is a simple concept that most preadolescents manage under society’s just threat of ostracism and criminal sanction. I am worried that if we think that our ever-changing emotions trump our need to manage ourselves properly, we will end up a nation of spoiled antisocial brats–wait, we’re already there! If we believe that we must have so-called mental health professionals to get us through all our difficulties, we’ve been sold a worthless bill of goods. If we want to live in a civil society, we must balance sympathy with upholding decency.

  208. snoop-blog says:

    i’d sue the shit out of mcdonalds. even if her fear is legit. mainly because i hate mcdonalds, and i want to be rich.

    no seriously though, you people saying shit happens, is no different than me saying lawsuits happen. to say this is the first time this guy has been embarrassed because of someone else’s reaction would be bull shit. i bet he gets made fun of all the time, or at least more than most of us average people. the last place he deserves to have that happen is anywhere where he is a paying customer.

  209. etherealclarity says:

    @ChuckECheese: You said “The central issue with this story is ‘your rights end where my nose begins.'”

    How do you interpret that to mean that she needed to have self control? She didn’t cause harm, she caused offense, and offense isn’t covered by that axiom.

  210. justdan says:

    @Said Not: People do not choose to work at McDonalds. They have to. She’s not an idiot for working at McDonalds.

  211. jazzman1960 says:

    I see the treatment of the little person as being a violation of the ADA, and dismissal or not hiring the person with the phobia as _NOT_ being an ADA violation. Being able to deal effectively with all members of McDonald’s customer base seems like a bona fide job qualification.

  212. Sian says:

    Dwarves are very upsetting o/~

  213. jediknight says:

    @etherealclarity; He’s not getting attention for himself. He’s bringing attention to the subject.

    Do you think McDonalds would have even considered any disability awareness training if he had not contacted an attorney? Remember, this is the same company that didn’t consider an apology necessary.

    Are you saying that property rights outweigh human rights?

    I’m not sure I get your point.

  214. galatae says:

    From the news story:

    “Adding insult to injury, Wade said that the restaurant never corrected his order or gave him anything to compensate for it.”

    Forget the compensation, get the man’s order right already.

  215. etherealclarity says:

    @jediknight: Words are not equal to bullets. Property rights ARE human rights. We have the right to “life”, “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness”. We have the right to have our property contracts enforced. Did this guy lose a limb? No. Did they steal his property? Well, maybe you could consider it fraud that the order was wrong, but this is unrelated to the “being offended” part. Suing over being offended OFFENDS ME. We don’t have a legal right to NOT be offended. If McDonald’s wasn’t going to get sensitivity training, then let them die over their bad press or bad food or WHATEVER, but a lawsuit is not the answer.

  216. ahwannabe says:

    @Sian: I was wondering how long it would be before that line popped up.

  217. jediknight says:

    @etherealclarity: You’re right. Words are more harmful than bullets as the effect can be far more traumatic and lasting.

    Consider the high suicide rates among dwarves. So the same thing happens to another little person who is aleady insecure about themselves and this sends them over the edge to suicide. So do that dwarves parents have the right to sue? I mean we’re talking about something worth substantially more than a laptop right?

    To continue with your line of thinking “all men are created equal” and should be expect to be treated as such.

  218. etherealclarity says:

    @jediknight: I’m sorry, that doesn’t fly. A bullet that kills me is a lot more harmful than any insult you could possibly throw my way.

    My elderly neighbor likes to insult me with no real provocation, because I’m “young” and therefore (in her eyes) irresponsible. Does this upset me? Yeah, it does. Should I sue her? Not unless her insults turn into a physical attack, threat, or harm to my property (hahaha, I’d like to see her try).

  219. youbastid says:

    @humphrmi: Dwarfism affects 1 in 20000 to 40000 people. At McDonald’s she probably serves at least 100 people per day. It’s bound to happen.

  220. mmstk101 says:

    If this had taken place at BestBuy, or with an employee from Comcast would the comments be any more Ethan-friendly?

    Seriously, how is it unreasonable to expect to be treated like, well, a human being when you walk into a store? Who knows, maybe the gentleman with dwarfism suffers from a phobia of being devalued as a person by a minimum-wage employee at a huge international company. . . would that be ironic?

  221. Sian says:

    @ahwannabe: I was shocked it hadn’t after 200 comments.

  222. rdm24 says:

    A phobia wouldn’t be a phobia if it were rational. That’s what makes it pathological!

    Which party should be accomodated by the ADA? Well, the little person obviously deserves to be served with respect. (Actually, if you step into a McDonald’s, you’ve clearly waived at least some of that respect.).

    Does McDonald’s have to accomodate the other woman’s phobia? Maybe they can put her on drive-thru duty. But she’s clearly unfit for most positions that involve working with the public.

  223. pyro789x says:

    “If you have a phobia of people, shouldn’t you find work that doesn’t involve the risk of seeing them?”

    That statement is as ignorant as declaring that black people should not even attempt to find work in areas where there are people that are hostile to black people, and that people with allergies should never find a job anywhere where they have the smallest chance of encountering that thing they are allergic to, lest they be rendered incapable of performing their job.

    I think it’s perfectly acceptable of her to not consider her fear of dwarves when looking for a job, I know I don’t always have my claustrophobia on my mind when I look for a job as a programmer, even though I have the possibility of being asked to crawl into a tiny space to retrieve some kind of paperwork or something. In my entire life, I have not even seen a single dwarf in the flesh, how am I supposed to know if I am afraid of them?

    This dwarf is just looking for a frivolous lawsuit. How would he like it if I asked him to pass something to me that he could not reach, then sued him for not passing it to me? It’s the same issue, suing somebody for something beyond their control.

  224. past says:

    How are any of you to say this girl shouldn’t be working the register? For a start she’s working at a McDonald’s, not the PR firm of some business where she would be expected not to have innate fears of certain people. She’s just working for a paycheck and never expected to run into a midget.

  225. Mom0f1 says:

    I wonder if Mr. Wade would have reacted as he did if the female employee had apologized and explained her extreme reaction to him in person or (if she felt she couldn’t face him) over the phone or through a letter. I understand that maybe this woman didn’t mean to hurt anyone but the very least she could do is try to make things right. I also think if ANYONE has a condition that has the potential of causing harm, weather it be physical or mental, to another human being should NOT get a job working with people on a daily bases!

    And to those of you saying terrible things about this little person you are all very ignorant and quite heartless!