Sometimes, restaurant customers can be insane and make crazy demands that put employees and management into horrible situations, and trying to do the right thing can be very hard. Such happened recently after an Olive Garden manager was fired for trying to calm a racially abusive customer who demanded a server who was not black according to a story reported on by Fox5NY.
Amira Donahue, a black 16-year-old host at the restaurant that night, said a woman seated with a group of customers, including two children, requested that the table’s black server be replaced with a non-black one and began screaming before a manager acquiesced to her demands.
“She made comments about me to my co-workers concerning my race and saying that I should work at a strip club instead,” Donahue told NBC News on Wednesday. “She asked if I’m even black and if I am from here.”
Donahue told the Evansville Courier & Press that she and the server, who she said wasn’t ready to speak to the media yet, “were both in tears for most of the day because it was just surprising.”
Maxwell Robbins, a customer who witnessed the incident, said it was so disturbing that he documented it in a Facebook post and submitted multiple complaints to Olive Garden by phone. (source)
This is story illustrates American psychosis very well.
Based on the evidence here, and barring nothing else, I cannot see what the manager did wrong, because this has nothing to do with race.
I will explain.
In American corporations, especially those of middle-to-low management with customer service, the upper mangement will ALWAYS enforce the idea that “the customer is always right”. They WILL fire managers quickly even over very small customer complaints if “something is not done to resolve the situation.”
This is why managers in the US act so tyrannical- because they are essentially abused by upper management many times and beaten into submission by fear of job loss.
This customer was racially abusive. This is not good. But he was making a scene, and the manager tried to solve it.
I cannot see, based on the evidence, how he was mistreating the black employee. To the contrary, it seems as though he helped her because, in all seriousness, who wants to deal with a racially abusive person, regardless of the context.
As one who has worked in restaurants and fast food, there are a lot of abusive people, and when a person gets abusive, management is supposed to step in, help the employee, and also give “world class customer service” to the same customer.
My question is, what ever became of the customer, since they started the problem is- not the server, and certainly not the manager.
This example illustrates some of the psychotic state of America. There are crazy people everywhere making unreasonable demands, employees are forced to try to acommadate unreasonable demands lest they be fired, but if somebody complains for any reason regardless of the context, the upper management in the name of profit and money will come down hard on their workers and abuse them too.
If the manager refused the accommodation to the racially abusive customer, she would likely have complained and he would have been fired for “not providing world class customer service.”
If the manager did make the accommodation (probably in an attempt to diffuse the situation, which is what it appears), he would have been- and was -fired because it “made corporate look bad.”
The point that I am making here is that there is, from my experience in similar situations and with the increasing social tension, situations where there are absolutely not good answers, and people trying to make the best of unreasonable and insane demands in a professional capacity are finding themselves condemned regardless of the action, intentions, or effects.
A similar phenomenon exists in the trucking industry, where Fleet managers will overbook trucking schedule and make promises to customers they actively know they cannot deliver on (yes, they know they will be late as a matter of fact), and then once they leave, demand that the persons on dispatch as the trucks roll overnight fix their problems to make all deliveries, and if this cannot be done, the dispatch is blamed for “failing loads” and can be written up, fired, or placed in a layoff queue even though it is not their fault.
This is what I am speaking of- it is making unreasonable demands or placing impossible situations for people to work with, and then blaming them for refusing to solve that which is unable to be solved based on the conditions demanded one must work within.
The real blame here is to be laid on the customer for the abuse and corporate management for refusing to support their employees and trying toe “save face” by firing a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was not his fault at all.