Sunday June 8 2014

Prejudiced over shoes



It all happened one very hot day under the Arabian sun. We were invited for lunch by friends to what was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in town.

We arrived a bit earlier than them and walked towards the reception area. The distance between the car and the entrance was only a minute of walk, but in a heat of 49degrees Celsius, it felt like an hour.

Dress code rules
Even before we entered the cool reception area, a shabbily dressed staff member ran towards us in a hurry. I thought he had come to welcome us, but even without looking at me, he examined my husband from head to toe and said: “Sorry sir, our dress code does not allow open shoes!”

It took us a few seconds to fathom this statement in the scorching heat, but truth was that he was between us and the door.

My husband told him that it was summer and he was wearing a pair of designer open shoes, not flip flops ,it was lunch time and not a formal dinner, and above all, we had not been informed about the rules. The staff was not taking any of that.

When our hosts –who were VIP clients of that place — arrived, they too (still standing in the heat) protested the attitude and the way it was being handled, but to no avail. Of course we left the place in a terrible mood, and for the next hours I could not believe that in this day and age, a decently dressed elderly man can be stopped from entering a place because of his shoes!

Rules could apply but...
Having been in service industry, I understand that a restaurant owner is entitled to his own set of rules, but in the process are we forgetting that we are dealing with human beings and not machines? Are we witnessing a new genre of prejudice born in our world that is already full to capacity with all sorts of discrimination?

A controversial world that takes you from extremes of nude beaches where only nude people are allowed to restaurants where decently dressed people are not allowed because there is a leather part missing in front of their shoes!

The moral
This reminds of a folk story about Mullah Nasreddin ( a populist wise man of the 13th century). One day, Mullah saw many people going to a house and found out it was a public lunch party. When he tried to enter, the servants stopped him claiming that he was shabbily dressed. So Mullah went back home and wore his best shirt.

This time he was welcomed and shown the high table. When he sat down and food was served, Mullah immersed his white sleeves in the soup and said: “eat my sleeves eat!”
When confused heads turned towards him, Mullah said: “You see, when I was wearing an old shirt I was not allowed in, with this new shirt, I was given a high place. So, it is my shirt that should be eating this lunch, not me.”