Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Evil Monkey with the bloody burrito should have been a clue...


These are your Vegans
These are your Vegans on Crack.
Any questions?


Pokez in San Diego is notorious for bad service, mildly filthy conditions. a seriously cool vibe and food that ranges from average to exceptional, possibly depending on the medication level of the cooks. Love it or hate it, most people just put up with it, because it's A Cool Place To Be. This apparently makes it worth putting up with rude, possibly stoned wait staff and God knows what in the coffee.



But when a rude, possibly stoned waitress allegedly shook and yelled at an autistic child, his father thought the situation to be very uncool indeed.

UPDATE: Coming from Childfree_Hardcore? This is just for you.

Story found at Ballastexistenz.

Autistic child assaulted while ordering food



"Last night, we went with nolly to Pokez, a Mexican restaurant in downtown San Diego. We had to wait about 15 min. to order, and the waitress seemed stressed. It was David's turn to order... he was slow to make up his mind while ordering, and grumpy. Not yelling or anything himself, just cranky. The waitress took this as directed at her, she suddenly snapped. She grabbed his shoulder, shook him, and leaned over and started mocking him, yelling his words back directly in his ear. He asked her to stop, and she grabbed his shoulder and then started screaming in his ear. Screaming that she had had enough and didn't have to work with this. And then she let go, stood up, told the table that she would not serve anyone at the table, and stalked away. He hadn't touched her beforehand... he wasn't even making eye contact, he had been looking at the menu.

We all looked at each other, in shock. After a pause, I got up and went to the manager, behind the register. I politely explained that I had an autistic son, that sometimes he needed a bit of extra time or patience, and did not read body language well. And that his waitress had abused him and refused to serve our table, and that that was unacceptable. I wanted an apology and a different server. But the manager backed up the waitress. He said that she was right, and that if my son was "going to be too much trouble" then we should not let him order for himself in restaurants. That it was our fault for having a child that needed patience or hesitated while ordering, and so we should have ordered for him. And that our party should leave.

James (his teenaged brother) was sullen and blamed David.... we were silent, mostly not believing that this was happening. Eventually went to another place for dinner.

[updates have been posted subsequently... basically, as of Friday evening, I have talked to the local Autism Society, and their attorney several times, have tried twice to file a police report (only could get an "incident report" from the SDPD), and have sent a letter to the local paper (Union-Tribune)]"
I called Pokez myself and asked to speak to the manager. I found that I was, and I asked for their version. The manager (I'm afraid I aspied the name) replied that those present were "being rude" and were ejected for that. She also informed me that the child was "not really autistic" because "Most autistic kids can't speak."

Thank you for all your help, Lennie Schaefer.

However, the only honest way to describe the conversation was "rude and dismissive."

My only other contact was the webmaster for Pokez, who disclaimed any responsibility for pokez, other than hosting the website, but said he'd try to speak to the owner. He did repeat over and over - as if it were a mantra - that if there had been a problem, it should be reported to the police. That didn't make a lot of sense to me at the time, but after seeing multiple alligations that the place is staffed by "crackheads," it begins to make sense. I assured them that it had been He also informed me that Pokez has their own Myspace. I found myself in the strange land of cool kidz who don't give a fuck. (loud music autoplays)

A little too much "attitude," not enough punk ethic if you ask this old punk.

Meanwhile, it's rating on Yelp.com continues to plummet, lawyers keep offering the father of the alleged assault victim representation services and it's turning into the Giant Hairball of Doom. Things should be interesting come Monday.

Asshole vegans pick on suburban NASA employee's kid, because "they don't have to put up with shit." That might just be wishful thinking.

This review, if true, may Reveal All.

Pokez, what a strange place, but sort of a quintessential san diego thing.

First you should know that none of the servers get paid. They work for free. And for tips. Why? I think there are a few reasons. Because working at Pokez is a glamorous job in the mind of young san diego hipsters. And most of the Pokez crew are using drugs (meth, coke, heroin). So that would explain the service.

How the owners get away with this I don't know. Where they find these kids (the staff is continually changing) I don't know. But I would surmise, drugs has something to do with it. And there's always some new naive hipster moving to the environs of downtown san diego.

The food is your basic greasy mexican food. It can be good or bad depending on the cook. Pokez does have a lot of vegetarian options you won't find at other mexican restaurants though.

The atmosphere is kinda like the malt shop on happy days but with a hipster, druggie vibe. And with everyone thinking they are the fonz. I'm always struck by how young the crowd is, and how they seem so out of place in that part of town, like they teleported in from god knows where.

Check it out if you must, its kind of an interesting place.
Bottom line - from all the reviews that came up before this occurred it seems like the story is plausible, and if true could - and should - result in some unpleasant consequences for those involved and those responsible for those involved. And as it happens, people on the spectrum, such as myself, have both a passion for justice and the ability to perseverate until justice takes notice.

And all because a waitress couldn't - you know - actually wait for an autistic child to make a choice.

Karma is a bitch and I love her so.

UPDATE: More here, not so much about the incident per se, as about the ethics of the incident and why it's become such a massive hairball so quickly. I had to get an ethics post out of this somehow.

UPDATE: I got some off the record indications that people connected to this are deeply concerned with what they see as an unfair perception of the business. But I have so far not been contacted in any official, on-the-record way by Pokez management or owners.

UPDATE: The link to the Pokez myspace above has some kind of wierdness - let's try this: http://www.myspace.com/pokezsd

If that gives a 404 error, go to myspace and search for pokezsd and you will find the page; it's still there.

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11 comments:

Eva Whitley said...

I will have to tell my AS 15 y.o. son that he's not really autistic because he can't talk. I doubt that will shut him up, but I can always hope. Of course a low-level restaurant employee understands autism so much better than a neurologist.

Was me, I'd bypass the cops and make it a giant media story. I wish they would, if only to push the Anna Nicole saga out of the news.

Bob King said...

Yeah, same for ours. Chuckle..

Of course, the manager is easily as qualified as Lennie Schaefer, who told me exactly the same thing. I'm not autistic. An official Lennie diagnosis. I'm just faking it for the money. Yep, I make hundreds of dollars per year, trading on my "disability."

Julia said...

I am SO tempted to call up the restaurant and inform them that 3 out of 4 autistic people in this household can speak.

khgriffith said...

"First you should know that none of the servers get paid. They work for free. And for tips. Why? I think there are a few reasons. Because working at Pokez is a glamorous job in the mind of young san diego hipsters. And most of the Pokez crew are using drugs (meth, coke, heroin). So that would explain the service.

How the owners get away with this I don't know. Where they find these kids (the staff is continually changing) I don't know. But I would surmise, drugs has something to do with it. And there's always some new naive hipster moving to the environs of downtown san diego. ... "


Well, I am an old enough guy that the tem "hipster" conjures up images of black berets, jazz clubs, and black turtlenecks, and a certain ... well.. cool. Maybe that's a New York City thing... dunno. But looks like it's morphed to include, "druggie asshole with bad attitude..."

I don't know why this whole thing is getting under My skin so bad... perhaps its being the parent of a teenage AS son...

ekdikeo said...

"and if true could - and should - result in some unpleasant consequences for those involved and those responsible for those involved."

The only person who deserves any problem is the person who actually touched another person, which could be construed as assault. Anyone else, youv'e got some serious problems if you think there's any reason for them to suffer consequences.

Bob King said...

ekdikeo: ignorance is surely bliss... at least until Monday.

Allow me to sum up - from the generous advice from many people to the family:

The ASSAULT was yelling at the kid. Battery is touching.

And since the child is autistic, and a child, this becomes a crime in two more ways. First, it's an assault against a child, which only has to make the child "feel uncomfortable" in order to be a serious misdemeanor. In this case it's battery of a child. Serious time there, think it's a felony.

The action of the manager could be construed as actions contributing to the crime, after the fact. That's certainly what the civil actions will allege.

It's also a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, provably so. The child is autistic, the manager was told the child was autistic, and the manager told ME that, in essence, the parents were lying. The fines attached are non-trivial.

Besides, son; this ain't about "I think they should" - it's about Karma comin' down aplenty. And "should" generally has little to do with it, nor does due process have any much to say about it, other than as an occasional agent.

There are now thousands of people who now believe that those who work at Pokez are the scum of the earth.

By the way, I foresaw this yesterday and made a serious attempt to contact the owner through an intermediary, after being blown off by the manager.

Had he taken some immediate action and made sure it was widely known, as well as appealing directly to the offended parents, perhaps this could have been minimized.

But "We don't have to put up with shit" doesn't cut it, son. That's crackhead attitude. As in, "you'd HAVE to be on crack to believe that in these circumstances." Or meth. Meth could make you that stupid. Oh, yeah, PCP. Or indeed, booze.

I have no moral position against recreational drugs. I do have a very large problem with assholes who cannot HANDLE their drugs around children and other living things.

So my gutless and profileless wonderment, take that back to Pokez and let them chew on it. ASIDE from the autism activists who are salivating after the owner's scalp in court, just to clearly establish the case law in these circumstances, there are scores and scores of people who will either avoid Pokez like the plague, or take further steps like reporting Pokez to the health department, the INS, the IRS, the DEA, the Mayor - and you can believe that the Mayor will be hearing of this fairly soon from someone, because you have suddenly become an international embarrassment to the fair city of San Diego.

Aside from that, pissing off a NASA employee over something like this will surely spread through what Temple Grandin referred to as the "largest sheltered workshop in the world."

Thats another several thousand pissed off aspies. Really, really smart, well-paid taxpayers. People who can pick up a phone to a state or local representative and get a personal answer.

Go in there and look around. Someone there in the corner with a laptop? A cel phone? Geez, I wonder if they are hoping for a juicy YouTube moment.

Me, had I anything to do with Pokez - I'd stop. It's a relationship with no future.

Jennifer said...

Gee, the myspace site seems to have gone missing. I wonder why? Could they be receiving a message or three?

Elizabeth said...

She also informed me that the child was "not really autistic" because "Most autistic kids can't speak."

The sad thing is that I just corrected that particular notion at an academic conference. See: http://qassandra.livejournal.com/573320.html

Actually, we have Aspies have a tendency to never shutup, as I'm pretty sure this manager will soon realize.

Bob King said...

It's still there (second update) but there's some kind of myspace or blogger wierdness.

Anonymous said...

I really wish I'd learned the word "hipster" before I moved to San Diego several years ago. It would have helped me foresee a lot of lameness and manipulation. They all give off this "I'm an individualist" vibe, yet 99% of them have dyed black hair, full-sleeve tattoos and a snotty attitude...
they strike me as a bunch of ex-high school dorks and dweebs who couldn't take it any more and made some faustian deal .."Oh yes, I promise to be a total bitch and listen to nothing but reords from the Swami label and get tattoos, just please let me be COOL"
ahhh, fashionable nonconformists...cant live with em, cant yank out their body piercings with pliers

Anonymous said...

wow. i moved to SD a year ago, and have had quite a time finding a decent mexican restaurant with vegetarian options. finally, i heard of Pokez, so i went online to read the reviews, and then i saw this. i am absolutely outraged and disgusted at the behavior of the waitress and the "manager", and i am deeply saddened for the boy and his family.
however, upon reading many, many of these discussion threads, i notice a lot of the blame for this incident is being thrown at "hipsters" or "vegans" or "edgy" people. i would like to point out that although this waitress (and possibly the manager) may have fit into any or all of these lovely "categories", this simply does not mean that we should take our frustrations out on people who choose to look or eat "different". that just doesn't make sense.
the bottom line is that some people are just ignorant and/or mean, regardless of their lifestyle. broadly judging a group of people based on the actions of one (or two) individuals within that group is uncalled for, now as ever before. let's see: "judge not lest ye be judged", "an eye for an eye would leave the whole world blind", etc. etc.
obviously this particular waitress and her manager are simply not educated enough on how to deal with customers who need a greater degree of help. disciplinary actions should certainly be taken, however, and better management and employee training needs to be instated at this (and most!) restaurants. i think that the waitress should be fired, to teach her a lesson, and the manager? well- even following some sort of backwards 'policy' doesn't excuse the fact that he acted like an person with no free will, morals, or good judgment.
i guess my point is, regarding this whole situation: maybe if we all stop freaking out about people who are different than us, we can more clearly see the similarities which exist, and the world can begin to become a better place.
i could write more on this, but i would only be typing forever.

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