Outrage of the Week: the Applebee's flap
You very likely have heard about this, but there are so many ways to be outraged that it's worth going over.
A woman was part of a party of five adults and five children at an Applebee's recently. As is becoming increasingly common in restaurants when there is a large group, the check included a tip of 18%. The woman, a storefront minister, was irritated by that, so she scratched out the tip, changed it to zero, and wrote "I give God 10%, why do you get 18" on the bill. In other words, she stiffed the waitress.
Another waitress on duty, named Chelsea, saw the note, thought it both insulting and comical, and posted an image of it on Reddit. The image went viral and while the customer's name was not easy to read, it was legible and people figured out just who it was. The minister heard about it and called the restaurant demanding everyone on duty in the restaurant, wait staff and managers, the night she was there be fired. Well, Applebee's stood strong in the face of such an over-the-top demand: It only fired Chelsea.
Applebee's management justified the firing on the grounds that "our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly."
First, it's outrageous how this minister, who went around the bend - what happened to love they neighbor, forgiveness, and all of that - is now coming on like she's the victim here, that her reputation has been "ruined." She's also gone on about how she's "broken-hearted" over the whole thing and how what she did "has been blown out of proportion" - which is rich coming from someone who wanted Applebee's to fire everyone in sight. She also says this was just a single lapse in her usual - we're apparently supposed to accept - high ethical standards. All of which would be more convincing if at any point she said Applebee's should hire Chelsea back.
Another outrage of this is how much of the coverage was about how Applebee's was handling its "PR disaster" as if the impact on Applebee's corporate image was the really important thing here.
A third outrage is the corporate hypocrisy here. Supposedly Chelsea was fired for violating the customer's privacy by having her name remain legible. Meanwhile, this fawning note, full of praise for Applebee's - and with a clearly legible customer name - was posted on the corporation's website. When this was pointed out, the image was taken down, as if to go "What image? What are you talking about?" Too late.
Finally, the real outrage here is that in all the coverage, in all the buzz and discussion in the media, the person for who the least concern has been shown is Chelsea. The only one who suffered anything more than some embarrassment is the one getting the least amount of sympathetic attention. Not in sections of the Internet, mind you: There is a petition calling for her to be rehired and a Facebook page dedicated to boycotting Applebee's until she is. I'm talking about in the more mainstream media. There, she just appears as the person who posted the image and then she disappears, just like she was disappeared from Applebee's.
Which means, ultimately, this is yet another tale of media misdirection and corporate callousness. Not new, but still an outrage.