Politics Foreign Affairs Culture

A Pizza Lesson

Bearing the cost of injured dignity, over the price of low-paid men losing their jobs

A number of people commented on my blog entry earlier this week in which I expressed sympathy for the two men at the CVS in Chicago who lost their jobs after a black customer took video of one of them calling the cops on her after she refused their request to leave the store. The clip went viral, and CVS canned the two employees, who are white. In my post, I said that it’s possible that the men deserved to be fired, but we can’t know for sure because we only have her side of the story, and a brief clip of the white manager on the phone with the police. We only have her version of what happened leading up to that point. The message I was trying to get out was that social media has a way of destroying the careers of people, because the super-righteous make a massive case out of things that can be handled in ways that can get justice for those who feel aggrieved, without destroying people’s livelihoods. Once it goes on social media, and the righteous mob is turned onto the scapegoat, it’s over.

I think this is a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, though depressingly, a number of progressive commenters saw it as me defending mighty whitey, straight up, and ignored that I clearly said these guys might have deserved their fate, and also noted in my post that Morry Matson, the white manager in the video, had a record of fraudulently signing petitions. The more subtle and important point I was trying to make was lost. That’s how it goes with the mob: either you are a Paladin Of Righteousness, or you are a Toady To Evil.

Well, I thought about that when I was out driving around town today, and passed a Pizza Hut near my house. I remembered being in that store in late spring, and having a very unpleasant encounter. I had called in a pizza order by phone, and told them I would pick it up. When I arrived, there was no pizza for me. The manager, who was working the cash register, called the pizza cook from the back and asked him what happened to my pizza.

“He called back and cancelled the order,” said the cook. A straight-up lie that was. He was lying to cover up his own incompetence.

I told the manager that was not true. The cook insisted that it was.

I had no interest in getting into a confrontation with these two in the Pizza Hut, nor did I have any interest in waiting for more Pizza Hut pizza. I walked out, determined never again to go to Pizza Hut, ever. I went to Papa John’s for pizza, and when I got home, sent out this tweet:


To their credit, Pizza Hut contacted me personally about it. I gave them the information about the store where this happened. The man who contacted me said they wanted to take care of it. I balked, though, when he followed up a day or so later to ask me to call him. I didn’t have anything else to add, but it was also the case that I had thought about whether or not I really wanted to cost that cook and/or that manager their jobs.  They work at a take-out pizza joint. The work is hot, and the pay can’t be great. Yes, the cook insulted me by lying repeatedly about me to his manager. Pizza Hut lost a customer for good. That said, I had cooled off by then. Repairing my injured dignity didn’t seem worth maybe costing a guy his job, even if he had failed me, and called me a liar to my face.

You know what did not figure into my equation? The fact that both of these men are black.

I thought today that if I had handled this situation like the black woman in Chicago handled the CVS conflict, I would have whipped my phone out as soon as the cook called me a liar, and started filming as I escalated the clash. Had the manager asked me to leave, I would have refused, and filmed him calling the cops. Then I would have gone on social media and made a big to-do about how these two black guys screwed up my order, then one of them called me a liar to cover up his incompetence — and now, look, they’re calling the police on me, the victimized customer!

I would have been a malicious fool to have done that. I put a single tweet up, not identifying the particular location or showing video of the cook or the manager, but alerting Pizza Hut corporate of what happened. Later, I regretted even doing that; it was impulsive, done in the heat of anger. I could have let Pizza Hut corporate know what happened privately. I believe they would have handled the situation. If not, maybe then I could have tweeted about it, if I thought that was necessary.

Anyway, I’m glad that my anger at that moment didn’t drive me to take out my smartphone, escalate the conflict, film the men, and distribute it on social media. I don’t know what kind of lives they have, or how much they need those jobs. The manager didn’t do anything wrong; it was the cook who was the liar and false accuser. But had I been provocative, maybe the manager would have been drawn into it.

Was my insulted dignity worth one, maybe two, men losing their job? Would it have been worth riling up anti-black racists who are looking for an excuse to hate black people, and to think that black people are always out to get them? Of course not.

By the way, I stand with Reason‘s Robby Soave in denouncing the conservative media who trashed Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn over vulgar and offensive tweets he sent out years ago, and for which he has since apologized. They got him fired by Disney today. Soave writes, quoting Gunn:

“I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he said in a statement. “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.”

This really ought to have been enough. But we live in an era where both the left and the right are eager to collect the scalps of people who offend them. Conservatives who participated in the lynch mob against Gunn are hypocrites, since they have often scolded the left for doing this exact same thing.

On Twitter, I see the right-wing personalities insisting that they are merely forcing the left to abide by its own standards: if Roseanne had to lose her job, then Gunn should, too. This is exactly the kind of escalation I warned about when I criticized the knee-jerk cancellation of Roseanne. What a dull and unforgiving world the P.C. outrage mobs are creating for us.

Great job, you conservative jerks. Join the liberal jerks too in creating a world that is anxious, spiteful, and merciless … and dull.

UPDATE: Ouch. Sauce for the goose…




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