My food allergic husband works with a small group of people who have been great about his food allergies since he started this job. They have moved meetings to restaurants that are safe for him and make him feel included. I know we both appreciated this (I wrote a blog post on it a while back). He knew when he applied for the job that it required some traveling and yearly conferences. He was honest with them about his allergies, but also assured them he could handle it and he’s done really well these 4 and a half years.
It’s been really busy in their small office lately with one of his counterparts leaving. This meant that his territory had to be covered by everyone else while they looked for a replacement. It’s meant a little more travel than usual since the new year, but again he’s handled it really well. He got to be involved in the interviews for the replacement hire and will be training the new hire this week. Maybe it’s just me, but I worry about how training will go this week and how this new guy will perceive his food allergies while in training. Will he be offended when my husband doesn’t take him out to lunch? Will he understand that eating out just isn’t always an option?
I just keep thinking back to his last job and when he was first diagnosed with food allergies. A few of his close friends at work understood and would still ask him to lunch at places they knew he could eat. But then there was everyone else. When they would have their monthly meetings followed by lunch out people threw fits because they didn’t want to eat at a restaurant that was safe for him. The supervisor, who either didn’t want to make a scene or just didn’t care, never stood up for him so he was excluded from these lunches every time. All I can picture right now is those stories we all hear of the child forced to eat alone at lunch because the school doesn’t understand that there is a better option. My only hope is that with more awareness of food allergies we’ll see less of people being excluded because of food allergies and more acceptance at schools, workplaces, and restaurants.
Is this worrying feeling what it’s like for parents of food allergic children every time a new kid joins the class or every year when you have to speak with a new teacher? Will they take it seriously? Will they understand? Will they remember weeks or months later when it’s really important and not be offended when our loved one turns down an offer of food? Will they try their hardest not to exclude our loved one? Maybe I worry too much about how people will treat my husband when they find out about his food allergies, but it’s important to me that he not be judged because he has food allergies. Either way, welcome to the team new guy.