*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car that says, simply, “I (heart symbol) Gluten.”
Most people think it is really funny, and I often see people at stop lights behind me taking pictures of the bumper stickers on the back of my car and laughing.
Not only that, I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten a laugh or compliment in parking lots from people walking by.
“I love gluten, too!” They laugh, and it’s like we’re sharing an inside joke, which is actually why I got the bumper sticker in the first place.
One year my friend Angela decided that she was going to go gluten free for the only reason that she thought it would help her lose weight.
It’s not like she was cutting carbs out of her diet - she was still eating things like gluten free bread, pancakes, pasta, and waffles, but she just had this idea in her head and she took it very far.
She insisted on getting her own toaster so that it wouldn’t be contaminated with gluten, she got livid if her roommates used things like her peanut butter now, because it could also be contaminated.
So, it was kind of a joke, me getting that sticker.
I love gluten and your choice to abstain is ridiculous to me, was what I was trying to say.
Some people think I was wrong.
One day, I was in line at the post office and a man behind me cleared his throat and said:
“Excuse me, is that you with the I heart gluten bumper sticker on the back of your car?”
“Yes,” I said, turning around.
“Well,” he said, “My wife and daughter are severely allergic to gluten, and I don’t appreciate people making jokes of such a serious health problem.”
I stood there, shocked, and the people in line around me stood there watching and listening, also shocked, wondering perhaps what I would do.
I feel like I stood there for a moment, opening and closing my mouth a few times maybe before I finally said:
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking about you or your family when I bought that,” and then I turned my back and ignored him, stepping up to the counter because it was thankfully my turn.
The postal worker widened her eyes at me, she’d heard the whole thing and was also shocked by the man’s comment.
I will always wonder why some people think things are all about them, or take things personally so easily.