By Chris Vespoli

It was a chilly evening in October and I was well into my near-nightly ritual of heading downstairs to the Dunkin’ Donuts that sits at the base of my apartment building. (Yes, I live above a Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s super convenient; I have coffee, donuts and bagels within short reach. And also, probably diabetes.) Most nights after dinner, I’d run down the four flights of stairs — OK, it’s more like a sugar-starved zombie stupor — to get a donut and a coffee for my fiancée and myself. Along with making the bed and working the Netflix machine, it is literally one of the only ways I prove my worth to her. That’s right, ladies. I’m a provider.

I’m friendly with most of the employees at the store, but on this particular night I saw none of the regular faces behind the counter. Instead, a man of vague foreign origin who I had only seen maybe once or twice before took my order. He was perfectly pleasant — all smiles as he dutifully pivoted on his back foot to retrieve two glazed donuts from the picked-over racks behind him. He got my coffees, then began making conversation as he rang me up.

“You come in a lot, yes?” I nodded politely, assuming he was referencing the past few times he had seen me in the store. To my horror, he clarified. He pointed at my body as he proudly announced, still smiling, “I can see your belly.”

And then, time stood still. It was like the part in Saving Private Ryan when a bomb goes off right by Tom Hanks and all the sound cuts out. A bloody limb flew this way…a hunk of dirt and shrapnel, that way…

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Chris Vespoli

Me at Dunkin’ Donuts
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Chris Vespoli

Now, to say I’m in shape would be a gross distortion of the truth, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself fat. Yes, my belly tends to jut out from my silhouette in a very Alfred Hitchcock Presents kind of way. And yes, sometimes the buttons on my shirt are pulled just a little too tightly. And yes, there is some confusion over where my chin ends and my neck begins. But having a man — the very man who was selling me donuts, even — suggest I was fat is something I never thought possible. So, I did what I do in nearly every situation I’m made to feel uncomfortable — laugh nervously and blindly agree to whatever is being said.

Maybe sensing my discomfort, he offered, “Don’t worry, I have a belly too,” and proceeded to pat his own. It was a failed attempt at commiseration. He was in a lot better shape than me. He continued the therapy session, saying, “For every donut you eat, you must exercise for 15 minutes.”

Despite knowing that that’s not how fitness works, I agreed and smiled, all while hoping beyond hope that this interaction would end before another customer entered the store. I was practically willing his hand to grab the receipt that the cash register had spit out and place it into mine so I could make my escape. He finally did, and I was gone — belly first into the night.

I looped around the other side of the building, but stopped before going into the lobby. I wasn’t mad about what happened. Maybe it was a sign that I had been going to Dunkin’ Donuts a little too much. Maybe the guy behind the counter, albeit very clumsily, was trying to do me a solid and watch out for my health. And maybe I should listen. I’d stop being so lazy. I’d stop eating so many donuts. I’d make a pledge to start exercising more and being more physically active from that moment on.

I put my key in the door and walked into the lobby with a renewed sense of purpose. I thought about taking the stairs back up to the apartment, but opted for the elevator instead. I mean, it was getting late, and I had a lot of donuts still to eat.


Featured image courtesy of Social News Daily

32 Responses to Awkward New York: I Was Fat Shamed by a Man in Dunkin’ Donuts

  1. SayHi2YourMom4Me says:

    15 minutes per doughnut? Maybe if you are running, fast. Probably more like 20-30 minutes for most people.

  2. Houtex77 says:

    His intentions were good but Dunkin Donuts? Ewwwwwwwwwwww! Too bad New York doesn’t have Shipley’s.

  3. Reader1984 says:

    That was a rude thing to say. Also, among the not starving poor in places like India and other countries (yes there are middle classes and wealthy there), there is also “fat-shaming.” It doesn’t sound like it was complimentary if he was advising you to exercise. He did it out of a sense of bluntness which can also be a cultural difference. People from my home culture will bluntly say things to my face which Americans never would. But I love how the inappropriateness of the clerk’s comment brings out the racism in the Americans here. If it had been a white person, what would you have found to disparage him with?

    • jack_sprat2 says:

      Racism? Really?! Having read through each comment already, I wondered whether I had somehow missed something, so I reread each of them carefully. Nope; no racism. No unwarranted generalizations. No broad condemnations of the ‘Other’. As it appears that it was all in your mind, dear Reader1984, you might want to search for that major malfunction.

    • Waterdances says:

      Absolutely! This culture has degenerated to a non-stop, denigrating “one-upsmanship.” All this righteous “I told him he was fat (ignorant, eating unhealthily) for his own good” is really about showing how much smarter, wiser, BETTER than someone you are! It’s about puffing yourself up at another’s expense. The problem is that these people who suffer the insults, eventually spew their hurt feelings onto others through verbal or physical violence. So, to ALL you bullies victimizing others in this fashion, wake-up, before their cross-hairs are on you or your loved ones.

  4. Rob Fusco says:

    As a guy who used to be about 300 lbs (6 foot 1) and had a triple chin, this article pisses me off royally. If thin people go around thinking that they resemble Alfred Hitchcock, imagine what they think of actual overweight people. This guy is obviously a tool if he thinks he’s fat. However, if he continues his ridiculous donut-and-coffee at night habit, it will eventually catch up to him, as his metabolism slows down due to the natural aging process. “Tapping Native Intelligence” indeed. If this guy represents the intellect of “native New Yorkers”, I’ll stay up here in Boston.

    • JohnnyBotz F says:

      If you consider this guy could represent the native New York intellect, Yes I agree w/you.Stay in Boston. NYC doesnt need any more small minded implants.

  5. Susan T. says:

    Reminds me of my friend who worked at a Panera’s and being the friendly girl she is, inquired about a lady’s pregnancy who wasn’t pregnant. Ouch! She wasn’t fired, but was no longer able to work up front after the woman called and complained about the incident. I think employees should be hospitable w/o being so chatty…esp. at the supermarket checkout line! It irks me when I have to wait while the customer in front of me is chatting /w/ the cashier like they’re in a beauty shop. So please people, give a nice smile & hello then get on with it…..we don’t need to know your life story! Sorry I got a little off topic, but I needed to vent :)

  6. Rob H. says:

    So I was at the hair stylist, and the lady commented that my hair was thinning. Can I turn that into an article too?

    If I go to the gym, I don’t get upset if they comment on how their products change my physique… I am not sure why my Dunkin Donuts personal trainer should be considered any different.

  7. momoko10 says:

    Guy who eats donuts before going to bed every night is sensitive about his figure.

  8. Cory says:

    It’s obvious in the telling of the story that the guy was simply having a bit of fun, playing around with a jab of playful banter. It’s also obvious that the author and the majority of people are far too sensitive and over analyzing it. Even if he was serious, why waste the life energy of getting upset and butt hurt about it, let alone actually inspiring you to write an entire article detailing the exchange.

    • Tizzielish says:

      I hope the writer got paid to write an article detailing the exchange. I admit that this article is pretty thin, no pun intended. It’s website filler so he likely did not get paid much.

  9. D. says:

    I think he’s giving the donut guy’s belly comment way too much weight. It’s nothing as far as insults go, a lot worse could’ve been said. The customer may be overly sensitive since he doesn’t even appear to be carrying extra pounds.

  10. Bill Jackson says:

    We have turned into a country of whiny babies. Has everyone gotten so sensitive that we can’t laugh things off? That wouldn’t have offended me at all and I work out. I’m not in shape. But who freakin cares? I have important life things that concern me. So outside of those. The world is a lighthearted place to me. Laugh a little at these moments people. It will make you a better person. This guys priorities are messed up if he is getting offended by that. Sheesh. No wonder our kids are messed up. The parents of today are a bunch of whiny cheese balls.

  11. Orville Gettinblacker says:

    This guy is a wuss.

  12. bazooka j says:

    i like me. nothing else really matters until you like yourself. no charge.

  13. disqus_OBJ1nn7cwY says:

    You should be secure in your fatness and not worry about what some other person thinks about you. As long as you can put down the donut once in a while and not let the donut control your life, you are still a man!

  14. Ross Carnegie says:

    I don’t think the problem is that he called you out for being fat; this is merely an observation. The actual issue is that you are overweight.
    If you wanted to fix the problem then, I would start with losing weight- its obvious you have a problem with it otherwise you wouldn’t have written this article. For example, if someone said precisely what this man said to you- to me, I wouldn’t be upset as I’m quite comfortable with my weight.

  15. Nonsumdignus says:

    You might write a letter to the owner saying you appreciate the concern his/her employees show to the customers, relate what happened, explain it was a wake-up call and that you will no longer patronize his/her business because you will be out exercising.

  16. Cainisable1 says:

    This guy does realize it is because of that pot bellied patron he has a job right?

  17. beardog1579 says:

    I have found people from India, especially the men, to be rude, condescending and not consumer-friendly wherever they work. I thought perhaps it was because I was a woman and men in India are used to directing their women to wait on them constantly, so even though it upset me, I didn’t lose sleep over it. After reading this article I’m seeing that they apparently are like this to everyone, so now I’m thankful I married an Irish guy! If this guy has a boss who visits this store, I’m betting he’ll be looking for another place to annoy people in short order!

  18. lindseymori says:

    coffee and donuts before going to bed. you must be a health nut.

  19. kneesus says:

    “For every donut you eat, you must exercise for 15 minutes.” Sounds like great advice to me.

  20. iworkforaliving777 says:

    It was none of the guy’s business. And he was really rude and should be fired.

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