‘Stephen Hawking Could Work; Why Can’t You?’ Asks Man who Isn’t an Astrophysicist

A tense scene developed in a Seattle coffee shop after barista Jeremy Crumb made an offensive comment to a disabled patron this week.

After coffee megachain Green Mermaid instituted a policy that makes staff-customer rapport mandatory, Crumb’s halfhearted question about what disabled customer Gigi Martinez did for work quickly turned sour.

“He looked strung out,” Martinez told The Squeaky Wheel. “I can’t blame him. I’d be brainless if I had to stand next to an espresso machine for more than an hour. When I told him I couldn’t work, it was the last straw for him. I should have broken it to him slowly.”

Eyewitnesses state Crumb sighed like a deflating beach ball and said, “Stephen Hawking could work. Why can’t you?” This was reportedly met with a round of gasps from the other patrons, quickly followed by Martinez saying, “He was also one of greatest astrophysicists in the history of the science. Why aren’t you?”

Testimony from multiple witnesses confirms that this was followed by utter silence. “It was surreal,” one bystander told us. “I’ve never been in a quiet coffee shop before.” 

We asked Martinez how she came up with the comeback. “Well, I’m neurodivergent, too,” she told us. “So I didn’t realize it was a rhetorical question. I’ve learned to roll with it. It’s weird how able-bodied people bring up work in conversation with us, because they all seem to hate it.” 

When asked if she’s inspired by Stephen Hawking, Martinez said, “I’d aspire to his family’s money! He could pay for his own care, and fair enough. God knows no one else wanted to.” Crumb has declined to comment, and has been uncontactable since the incident. “I’m not surprised!” was Martinez’s reaction to this news. “If I were working minimum wage in this economy, I’d be strung out too. Let the guy sleep off his overtime hours before we give him ‘The Talk.’”

In a statement, Green Mermaid refused to confirm whether Crumb will be fired or not, considering there are no candidates under-qualified enough to replace him. People like Martinez with severe and unpredictable health conditions find themselves in a vulnerable position in the gig economy, which brings its own kind of tragedy. “It sucks not being able to work,” Martinez said, “but capitalism isn’t exactly selling me on the idea either.”

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