It’s always a good day when bullies get their comeuppance. It’s an even better day when there are no bullies in the first place but simply an episode of ignorance that needs a helping hand to make the world a better place.
Shannon Daughtry, a mother and wife, regaled the heartwarming story of an encounter that her husband, Dustin, had at work, and people can’t stop talking about it. Dustin managed to prove that a little care and kindness go a long, long way, and the lesson came in the rather adorable form of his little girl, Raegan.
Happy birthday to the love of my life! Love you Dustin! ❤️🎉🎈🎊
Shannon shared Dustin’s experience in a now-viral post on Love What Matters, and the world agrees with Dustin; the workplace is no place for discrimination, and with open hearts and open minds we can make each other’s experience of the world just that little bit brighter.
“I just can’t shake this sad feeling I have had since my husband told me this story today,” Shannon began. “I wasn’t going to share it, but then decided that if it could enlighten one person, that it would be worth it.”
Shannon went on to describe the scene: her husband was sitting at a lunch table at work the previous day, surrounded by 15 colleagues. They were “guys to say hello to,” but nobody that Dustin knew on a personal level, Shannon clarified.
"So, I just can't shake this sad feeling I have had since my husband told me this story today. I wasn't going to share…
“One of the guys starts telling the whole group a story about a Halloween party that he attended this past weekend,” the mom continued. “The guy says ‘omg, my brother came to the party and had the best costume. He went as a retard! Oh man, it was hilarious! He looked like such a good retard!’”
Dustin, as many of us would have been, was completely taken aback. He sat there “pretty stunned for a moment,” Shannon wrote, “while he gathered his thoughts.” Most of the people at the table were laughing, but Dustin had a pertinent question and decided to give the impression of joining in in order to ask it. “Well, wait, what does a retard look like?” Dustin asked. The man responded: “I don’t know, but he was good!”
“He was the perfect retard.”
Dustin hung back for a few seconds, but his next move was a game changer.
He took out his phone and found an adorable recent photo of his daughter, Raegan. Jostling his phone into the middle of the group, he said, “This is my little girl, Raegan,” to a chorus of appreciative and complimentary noises. “Dustin then looked at the storyteller,” Shannon revealed, “and said, ‘Thanks, she is amazing,” but his next sentence turned the conversation on its head.
“She has Down syndrome,” Dustin shared, “So, I’m sure you can imagine that I don’t appreciate this costume conversation. I’m just wondering,” the protective dad continued, “is she what a retard looks like, to you?”
Mouths dropped, said Shannon, as the original speaker attempted to retract his words. A quiet embarrassment occupied the table where the mocking laughter had been. “Dustin just went on to explain why that word is so hurtful, shouldn’t be used, and especially how insulting it was to use it as a joke and a costume,” Shannon shared.
Maybe the diners were uncomfortable, she mused, but Dustin’s explanation may well have sent them all home with a slightly better understanding of how their words affect others.
Yesterday we celebrated the 4 year anniversary of the best and worst day of our lives…. the day we handed our three…
“It still makes me feel so sad that some people look at our kids as a joke,” Shannon continued, sharing the reality of parenting a child with a visible difference. “I’ve said it a thousand times. There are so many words in the dictionary that you can use in place of the ‘R’ word. Please,” she concluded, “for Raegan’s sake, consider using a different one.”
Dustin’s bold gesture spoke in defence of a vulnerable community and proved that love is the most powerful force of all. You could do the very same thing by sharing this story and helping change perspectives for the better.