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Ben Edelman Nation

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In case you hadn’t seen, Boston.com has unearthed a 2010 exchange the Humanitas Prize-winning Harvard Business School prof Ben Edelman had with a Boston sushi restaurant. Sounds like Mr. Congeniality better write another apology. If you thought he was a jerk for the way he treated the Chinese restaurant, just you wait till you read that one. He may be History’s Greatest Monster.

Reader Mason C. posted this to yesterday’s Ben Edelman thread:

I was surprised how emotional I became as I read the emails. I work in a service job, fast food burgers specifically. We encounter people like this all the time. Admittedly they don’t have a Harvard education, but some tiny thing goes wrong and obtaining some restitution becomes a crusade for them. Requests for a refund or a new sandwich we quickly and willingly fix. But some people ask for ridiculous restitution. We will forget to take the pickles off of one of their sandwiches and they want their whole order free. When we refuse and offer to replace the single sandwich then the threats start. “What’s your employee number?” “I’m going to call corporate.” “I’m never eating here again!” And the basic threat is always the same, “give me what I want or I will do what I can to ruin you.”

The customers that come through the drive through can be mean but really can’t do much. Pro tip, corporate doesn’t care if your sandwich has pickles on it. They agree with us. They don’t want us to give you free food either. Edelman, as a member of the cultural elite and a lawyer, might be able to actually make good on his threat.

A lot of people here are agreeing with Edelman, at least in principle, but I think they are failing to understand exactly what it is he is doing. He is threatening to destroy this person’s business, putting more innocent people out of work, over $4.

Multiple lives ruined, over less money than it takes for his daily cup of coffee.

This brings up a story that changed my life (from “Lead like Jesus” but paraphrased). A seasoned street minister is training a new minister. The newbie points to a street woman and asks “is that a prostitute?” The seasoned veteran minister answers him,”No! That is a person in prostitution.” The point was that she was a person first.

I have my emotional self in check. I’m not given to being over sensitive or over emotional. But This story made me emotional because I get reduced to tears once or twice a week by people who visit our restaurant. People who have families, hold down good jobs, raise kids, go to church. These people bring me to literal tears because they are so mean, rude, inconsiderate, and vengeful.

So listen up, it’s an uncommon skill to treat people as if they were people. If you don’t make a conscious effort to treat people like persons then you probably aren’t treating them like persons, which is to say you’ve probably been an ass to a clerk.

It’s great to pick on Edelman but most of you have probably done the exact same thing to someone. You just didn’t end up on the internet for it.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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