MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A South Florida couple who use wheelchairs was called a shocking name on their receipt after ordering food from a local food truck. Now the company is left to explain.
The couple was identified simply as “chair.”
“I have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy,” said Lorinda Garcia who has a form of muscular dystrophy and has used in a chair since she was 6-years old.
Israel was born with spina bifida and has used a wheelchair all his life.
As adults and married, they live very independent lives.
“I think the misconception is that people with disability keep taking from society . They have this idea that if you are a person in a wheelchair, you’re dependent on the system and you don’t work and you stay at home and that’s not necessarily true,” said Garcia.
The couple owns a business writing grants for non-profits, travels and lives what they say are fulfilling lives but it was during the simple act of ordering food that they were reminded that sometimes all people see is their wheelchairs.
“He slides over the receipt and I look at it. I said, ‘are you serious? They put chair.’ I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked,” said Lorinda.
The woman who took their order identified them only as “chair.” Lorinda took a picture of the receipt and posted it on Facebook. The outrage followed.
“The disability community, they believe it. This is the type of stuff we deal with all the time. At the same time, it’s upsetting. Why do they define us as just a chair instead of a person,” said Lorinda.
“I’m not one to really get offended. Our order was fine and our food was delicious but I think it’s a good opportunity to educate people that someone in a chair isn’t just a chair. There is more to that person than the chair,” said Israel.
“That’s what they put was chair. I know they were asking people’s names because the gentleman before us, his name was Carlos. I heard it. They asked for his name… they didn’t ask for our name but I didn’t think about it,” said Lorinda. “I was just surprised at the ignorance. That’s how you define us? Chair.”
CBS4’s Silva Harapetian went looking for an explanation. She spoke to the owner of El Toro Loco Churrascaria Aly Legra.
“Do you remember this couple from the other day,” asked Harapetian.
“Yes I do,” responded Legra.
Harapetian asked, “Do you remember what you wrote on their receipt?”
“Chair. Yeah. What about that,” asked Legra.
“You named everyone else by name but you called them chair,” said Harapetian.
“No I don’t. I put chief. I put polo shirt,” said Legra.
Harapetian asked, “So you do that for everyone?”
Legra responded, “yes.”
“Can you see how they got a little offended by that,” asked Harapetian.
“I do,” said Legra.“If they took offense, I apologize. It was not meant in that manner. If that’s the case, I make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Lorinda and Israel said they understand but still want to bring attention to it.
“She just thought put chair – didn’t think anything of it – but if it was flipped and someone put something down about her that she doesn’t define herself as, she would be offended,” said Lorinda.
Harapetian asked what other customers thought about the incident.
Customers who heard Lorinda and Israel’s story didn’t seem to be bothered.
“I don’t see why they should get upset about that. I wouldn’t get upset – blue t-shirt mom – that doesn’t bother me,” said a customer.
No matter the reaction, Lorinda and Israel said their goal is to use this opportunity to educate.
“My mom as a kid used to tell me, you need to speak up. You’re here to educate people because you can versus all the other people with disabilities who can’t,” said Lorinda.
The owner says she would like to invite Lorinda and Israel back so she could make a personal apology.