Mental Illness: OCD

This could be a Retail Reminder, or it could apply to everyday life. But I feel that I have to write this in light of a recent occurrence at Tim Hortons involving prejudice and hostility toward a person living with OCD and the fact that it is currently International OCD Awareness Week (Oct. 14-20).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety (obsessions), repetitive behaviors that are engaged in to reduce anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of both. While many are concerned about germs or leaving their stove on, people with OCD are unable to control their anxiety-producing thoughts and their need to engage in ritualized behaviors. As a result, OCD can have a tremendous negative impact on people’s day-to-day functioning.”

The situation:

A family friend has been banned from a Tim Hortons due to an employee complaining about “abusive behaviour.”

To refute this claim:

Firstly, this friend has always been accompanied by another person (witness) who has never heard a verbally abusive thing leave this person’s lips. Characteristically he or she is playful, outgoing person who loves to chat and never has a temper.

Secondly, the complaint is a fabrication, because the employee in question (Judy) is angry that this customer repeatedly returns the coffee because of curdled cream particles floating in it, because an employee has touched the lid in an unhygienic manner, or because of other OCD-related problems.

(not to mention some of Tim Hortons practices are too unsanitary for the average person anyway)

The reality:

Without returning the product for a new one, anxiety attacks or worse may occur within the person who has OCD.

This person is often apologetic, or even embarrassed because they have little to no control over these behaviours and actions.

Tim Hortons:

How horrible that Tim Hortons decided to respond to this by banning him or her from its store.  How horrible that it is only one employee who has “documented” (i.e. fabricated) abusive comments. How horrible is it that the stigma around OCD and mental health is not only not shattered, but now worsened.

What an opportunity for Tim Hortons to be part of the solution to the stigma around mental health rather than the problem.

The Twist:

The employee accusing the person with OCD already has had official complaints against her for her bad customer service as well as abuse of this OCD client already – but it is not she that will suffer. She does not have to openly wear the burden of mental illness every day, nor could she possibly understand how hard it is to live with OCD.

My Question:

Is Tim Hortons following the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service? Have the employees at this location been provided with training around both visible and invisible accessibility issues? Is the employer taking advantage of the tools offered by the government of Ontario that teach employees about these issues.

A Selection from the Employer Handbook for training your staff on the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

A Selection from the Employer Handbook for training your staff on the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

For organizations that persist in not meeting their obligations, the government has the power to conduct inspections, assign monetary penalties and prosecute through the courts.


Everyone deserves to be treated with respect: employees, customers, everyone. This involves treating people like human beings, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, not spreading rumours about them, not lying.

Honestly, this situation just makes me sad. Is this the direction we are headed when a major chain decides to stand against someone with a mental illness? Or will we choose to move forward where people with mental illness are the same as everyone else.

Treat everyone with respect; treat them how you would like to be treated, and don’t contribute to the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.

Discrimination due to Mental Illness is NEVER okay.

(I’m talking to you, Tim Hortons)


Brief Hiatus

As you can see, I haven’t posted in the last little while.

I finished school and my internship at the end of April, and I’ve been keeping busy with home projects and volunteering.  My living room and dining room are now completely painted, although there is still a lot of cleaning to do.

This upcoming weekend I’ll be volunteering at the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon as the captain of one of the water stations. Even though I am not working at Women’s Place of South Niagara I am continuing to volunteer with them. I didn’t realize how much I missed volunteering until I started again.

While I look for work, continue working on my house, and volunteer in my spare time, I will be spending less time blogging and on the computer.  But I will try and post when I can.

Remember, it’s nice and respectful to keep people informed about what you’re up to – especially if you plan on going away for a bit.

RR: Server Edition

I am not going to write an entire post about the crap servers have to deal with at their jobs or how unfair tipping can be or what kind of etiquette you should show your server.

>>> Because The Oatmeal has already done this for me. And he has described it far more…illustratively than I could have.  <<< Click here to read.

What it comes down to, in my humble opinion, is this:

Servers are responsible for a LOT of stuff that they may not even have control over. You asked for no onions, they put in a request for no onions, the chef makes your food with onions, your server brings you that food. They didn’t put the onions on your food (nor did they make your food cold nor did they make you wait 30 minutes before you were seated).

Yet far too often, the server is “punished” – no one else, mind you – for your dissatisfaction. You are able to withhold the money that brings them just up to minimum wage. Some of these people are students working their way through school or single parents. And just because the restaurant is fancy, doesn’t mean they get more money (although they should).

Be considerate before you decide to be rude to your server, withhold his or her tip, or do anything else that would be considered bad etiquette.

Picture from “Tipping and Tooting” by The Oatmeal

Bus Etiquette

This post was taken from an old blog of mine, Chronicles of Crazy, and I’d like to share it.  Nothing will make you crazy like riding on a jam-packed bus with rude people.
Believe me… I know.

You don’t expect much courtesy on a city bus.  After all, anyone can ride them for the small fare of $2.50.  But there is something about this shared experience which brings some riders  together within the torturous confines of the bus’s walls.  Some people sympathize with one another and show respect to others who are forced into this horrid situation along with them.  Example: the student mall employees who all attempt to squeeze into the 9:15 and 9:30 buses at the end of the night.  (Why they don’t even send one extra bus at this time is beyond my understanding, since there is always at least one person standing in front of the yellow line explicitly stating “Do not stand beyond this point.”)

Though our expectations of the bus are low, there are still some simple ‘bus etiquettes’ that most people follow.  Especially at hours when the bus is beyond full.  If the bus is empty, but for one or two people, by all means, sit where you want, throw your bags on the seat, put your feet up – no one cares!

In times of maximum capacity, these are the few rules to follow:

When sitting in a coupled seat, always sit closest to the window and rest your belongings in your lap or on the floor in front of you.  If you don’t want a weirdo to be near you, don’t take the bus.  It’s as simple as that.  It is only courteous to leave the seat open so that everyone has the choice whether or not to sit down on the bus.  Leave the seat next to you open so that when the bus gets full, more people can sit down, leaving more room for people to stand, leaving more room for the bus driver to create the next *german word* as more and more people pile on.

If the bus is not too full and you want to stand rather than take the empty seat next to Homeless Santa, that is absolutely okay.  However, if the bus is slowly filling up, and there is less standing room, and there are some empty seats: take one!  Do you think you’re doing anyone a favour by being a hero and subway surfing the bus?  You’re not.  You’re just wasting space.  If you think someone else will take it, use the 30 Second Rule. If Standing Grandma doesn’t sit down within thirty seconds, you have every right to grab the seat which she has clearly rejected.

And how many times do people beside you, the bus driver, and common sense have to tell you: “MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE BUS!”  It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Rosa Parks, or Donald Trump.  If you are standing, move to the back.  Do not hover around the front door.  Do not stand in front of the back door.  Just go stand at the back of bus so that when it fills up, people don’t have to push past 29 people just to find standing room.

Now most of these ‘guidelines’ for bus etiquette are just common courtesy and sense…bus this is the stuff that people today are firmly lacking of.  It is ridiculous that every time I go on the bus I see people rudely hogging two seats when they have one tiny arse, and I am standing with four bags of groceries.  If you have a slightly guilty feeling about something you’re doing, you’re probably doing something wrong, so think about it.

This shared experience of misery can only bring us closer since for five to thirty minutes we are all reduced to sweaty livestock travelling by large container to our destination.

My advice on correcting people

I have some personal basic rules on correcting people.  They all come back to a theme common throughout my blog: ask yourself, what does my correction offer someone?

For example, take this scene from Friends with Benefits here:

I am completely on Mila’s side:  “Did you understand what I was saying?  Then don’t be a dick about it.”

It’s one thing if a person is making a mistake that could cost them something, then by all means suggest a modification.  For example, if you are in an academic setting and correcting someone could affect a grade or prevent him or her from looking like a fool in front of the class, then genuine correction may be offered.

It’s when the correction is so very unnecessary to the progress of life yet a person finds it necessary to interrupt in the middle of a conversation to correct something that was said – that is what I find so rude.

It is often with our friends and family that we do this the most, and it is a habit I’m trying to break myself.

If you do find yourself having to correct someone, just be sure to do it in a polite way. Don’t be haughty or condescending – you’re not better than anyone else for being privy to certain information.

My general advice is only correct when necessary to prevent someone from making a fool of his or herself, prevent them losing credibility at work or school, and always be kind about it.

I’m just being honest

“That hairdo looks like it’s from the 90s.”
“You have garbage mouth – eat a mint!”
“Your stir fry looks like vomit; I’d never eat that…”
“This is the worst piece of writing I’ve ever had to edit.”

 Sure, we’ve all done it – we’ve all been “honest” with our friends about one thing or another.  They ask us if their respective butts look fat in those jeans, if their breath is okay or if their papers need improvement.  If we have to critique them, we try and do it in a polite way – as we should.

However, there are times when people use the line, “I’m just being honest!” to say something mean or rude to someone.

For example, if someone needs to be told that his or her writing is not up to par, the rude person might say, “Your writing sucks – hey! I’m just being honest.”  The polite person may say, “The grammar in your article needs to be improved; if you need any help, I have some resources I can share with you.”

A good criticism will have a polite delivery with a suggestion for improvement.  Hiding a rude comment behind the guise of honesty never works.  Even if you were just being honest, that doesn’t make up for hurting someone’s feelings or putting someone down.  That is self-serving, thoughtless behaviour and, thus, completely discourteous.

Before you say something negative, ask yourself: does this need to be said?  Will making this comment help or hurt the person?  What will they gain from hearing my criticism?

If you tell someone they are bad at something without providing a means for improvement, specific suggestion or at least saying what particularly needs improvement, what have you truly offered that person?

Refrain from making comments or snap judgments about people’s appearances.  Unless they are going for a job interview, an important meeting or perhaps a date, it probably doesn’t matter if they are wearing a scrunchy in their hair or shoes that are a little too high.  If someone is overweight, in your opinion, you don’t need to comment or judge them.  Your prejudice has no positive effect in anyone’s life and should be tossed in favour of polite acceptance of others. Your opinion isn’t necessary, even if you’re “just being honest.”

There is always a polite way to say what needs to be said – but some things don’t need to be said at all.

Don’t use “honesty” as an excuse to be mean or rude.

Manners & Chores

It’s time to talk about respect at home. Manners aren’t just for public display; they should be woven into the fabric of your behaviour and practiced in the presence of strangers, friends, family and even roommates.  Just knowing someone doesn’t give you the right to treat them meanly or rudely, and living with someone certainly doesn’t give you the right to take advantage of them.

I won’t be able to sum up all household manners all in one post, so I’ll start with an obvious conflict starter: keeping shared living space clean.

Whether you live with roommates or your family, each individual in the home has an obligation to maintain the upkeep of the residence.  How this is done is left up to the individuals occupying the space.

For example, some choose the “chore wheel,” others have a rotating schedule, while some have no organized way of keeping the home clean.  Who takes out the garbage each week? Who sorts through the recycling? Who does the dishes? Who cleans the toilet?  These simple tasks are either squabbled over or simply left until the neatest person can’t take it anymore and cleans up everyone’s mess.

I have five rules for avoiding chore conflict that should leave everyone satisfied, if not pleasantly surprised.

  1. Reach an understanding.
    Some people are inherently neater than others while some people can be absolute slobs.  When sharing a living space, you must understand who you’re living with, how clean they might be, and how they like to do things. This allows for you to compromise and find a balance. I’m sorry, but I don’t advocate for changing a person – only his or her habits.  A messy person will always be a bit messy; so if you like to be neat but don’t relish the thought of pick up after someone, you probably won’t be happy in this situation.
  2. Determine a Routine
    Make sure an agreed-upon routine is established.  This can be done by holding a house meeting or having mom and dad tell everyone how it’s going to be.  This routine should explain how the chores are going to be completed each week.  Will you rotate a set schedule? Will you draw names out of a hat? Does each person have one chore they actually like doing and will commit to that each week? Will you post your routine on the fridge so everyone can look at it, everyone’s on the same page and there aren’t any disputes?
  3. Do your part.
    Once you have committed or agreed to the chore routine, stick with it.  As a responsible and polite person, you must follow through on your commitments and promises. As an individual with shared house space, not only will you be exemplifying your good manners, but you will also be preventing arguments, fights and inevitable disputes.
  4. Clean up as you go.
    If you make a mess, clean it up.  Don’t leave it for someone else to do or for it to be your own chore day. If your soup splashes the inside of a microwave, wipe it down.  If your bacon grease splatters onto the stove, clean it up immediately.  If you get water all over the counter in the bathroom, dry it up before leaving.  These are really simple things to do that will avoid a build up of mess, will make cleaning easier all around, and it is the polite thing to do when you share amenities with others.  Don’t be “that guy” who’s always making a messes for others to clean up.
  5. Be upfront and honest.
    If something is bothering you about your living arrangements, be honest. If you really don’t like a chore you’re doing or the way someone else is doing (or not doing) his or her own tasks, talk about it.  Don’t leave it so there is so much built up resentment you finally explode.  Confront the issue and the person directly.  Talking behind people’s backs eventually comes back to you, and not dealing with it will make you angrier in the end.  Give up the irrational fear of confrontation and just talk about it.  You’ll be happy you did in the end.

Most people do want to avoid conflict in the end, and they try to be good people.  Following these five simple rules will help you avoid conflict in the home, keep it clean and improve your household manners.  Those should never be in short supply.