About That Cake From Meijer: A Disabled Perspective

**Before we get into the topic of the day, I wanted to give you an update from my smoothie recipe post yesterday. I think when I make this again; I’ll not use as much peppermint. It seems as though after sitting overnight in the fridge, the leftover smoothie mixture took on the peppermint flavor like that one guy that farts on the subway full of people, and you can’t get the smell out of your clothes for a week, even though you sat in the front and he was in the back. The flavor has taken on a Pepto Bismol-y quality which is never a good thing. 😛 Just wanted to pass this along if you planned on replicating my recipe…….

Today’s planned post has been bumped to tomorrow so we can talk about a more serious issue; cake. Specifically bakery cake. More specifically a cake from a Meijer bakery that has gone viral in the past few days. Why did a cake from Meijer go viral? Because it was decorated by an employee with autism.

Now according to the story, this employee was not a trained cake decorator, but the order came in and they decided to fill it themselves (whether this was because no one else was available is not disclosed). When the customer picked up the cake, they didn’t notice the writing at first. Then, “After looking, I nervously laughed and headed to check out- it didn’t really matter to me that it looked so bad- I thought people would think it was funny,” (She)wrote. But the cashiers told her the girl who helped her has autism and isn’t supposed to write on cakes.”

Reread that last line. Maybe I’m just in a snarky mood brought on by the weather (its spitting snow outside my window), but to me it just seems wrong to publicly disclose someone’s disability without their consent (HIPPA violation anyone?). I understand the cashier did so in an effort to thwart a possible complaint from the customer. Why couldn’t the cashier simply apologize and say, “This person wasn’t supposed to write on cakes” without the added information that she has autism. Was the fact that she has autism the reason for her not being allowed to write on the cake? **cough**discrimination**cough**

At this point you are probably saying, “Dang woman! Calm down! This was just a feel good story about a cake!” But to that I say, because of my disability I see something else others might not be able to.

I see that the story went viral because the act of writing on a cake for someone with autism is unexpected. I understand that some with autism are nonverbal and unable to write, so in that way this act would be considered kinda cool. But the article never divulges the artist’s writing ability so it’s safe to assume they were able to write (and the finished product is quite legible).

The fact that this story went viral because a person with a disability did something unexpected is a little disheartening. Because that means that in the year 2015, our society-a nation that has made many advances in science and industry- is still mesmerized by disabled people doing ordinary things.

This reminds me of something that happened to me in college. Every year our college took one day out of the year for a campus-wide day of service in the community. My particular site one year was with a couple other people at a museum. When we arrived the person in charge of assigning us tasks began splitting us into groups. She finally looked at me, in my wheelchair, and hesitantly asked, “Can you write?” Now she may have been wondering if I was a good writer, as in content, but I took this to mean can I use a pencil (and in the end I was correct as my job that day had me writing things down with a pencil). Now, in her defense she was an older woman and I’ve realized that older people are sometimes still amazed that I get out and about every day. Because when they were my age, anyone with a disability was put in institutions or kept at home. So the act of seeing me out and about was, to them, extraordinary.

So to sum up, here is what our community wants others to know: people with disabilities are just like you. We have hopes, dreams and talents. We suck at math (ok, maybe that’s just me 😉 ). We laugh and cry. We strive for employment that we can feel proud of and makes a difference in the world.

I for one dream of the day where we can go to work, put lettering on a cake and have this act go by without so much fan-fare. Only then will we have truly been accepted by society as just like everyone else. Truly equal.