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No, this is NOT going to be another story about stridently anti-gay Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s rumored meth-fueled love tryst with troubled Pastor Ted Haggard. There have been ENOUGH of those, and we are not that kind of blog. And we will not be mentioning those rumors again until there are more reliable and impartial witnesses than Haggard’s congregation and the Chick-fil-A Board of Directors.
But, on the eve of “Chick-fil-A” day, during which geriatric FOX News viewers threaten wheezingly to patronize the eatery en masse just to support Mr Cathy’s *cough* “freedom of speech, ” we thought we should share THIS contribution from a loyal Orange Juice reader…
Take it away!
Today I went to Chick-fil-A. I’ve been a good customer for years.
I looked around the restaurant as I waited in line to place my order. The employees were bustling about. It was around noon, and the dining room was three-quarters full. The customers were eating happily. There were a lot of people in line, but they moved fast, because the staff was operating efficiently and cheerfully. It seemed to me that there were a lot of children, and also a much higher proportion of senior citizens than I usually see there. The crowd was dressed casually, but the women’s hairstyles and the late-model cars parked outside told me that they were a wealthy demographic.
I took my time looking at the menu, and told the cashier exactly how I wanted my sandwich: the Spicy Chick-fil-A with lettuce added (an extra 15 cents.) I mentioned in a cheerful, conversational tone that that’s just the way I had it last time, and how I wanted it to taste just that way again. I took my time contemplating whether I wanted fries, and finally decided to skip them. Yes, I would like that “for here.”
Basically I was a typical customer – borderline annoying but well-meaning, and oblivious to the people behind me. I took my receipt and sat at a small table for a minute or so. A smiling lady brought me a tray and set it in front of me. I opened the black styrofoam box, picked up the sandwich, took an eager bite, and started chewing. Then I FROZE.
I stopped chewing, and with my mouth still full and an expression of worried disgust on my face, I picked up the tray and walked quickly to the condiment station and conspicuously set down the sandwich. I grabbed a handful of napkins and silently spat the food into them, and folded the mess up. By the time I could turn around, the smiling lady was asking if I was okay. Other customers looked on with interest.
I told her, and not in a quiet voice (but still not shouting) that there was “something wrong,” and that, yes, I would like to speak to management. Almost instantly a manager in a blue-collared shirt appeared, asking me how she could help.
I said, in a clear, not-too-loud voice (my voice carries) that I simply could NOT eat this sandwich. She kindly offered to substitute another sandwich if mine was “too spicy, or not what you wanted…” I thanked her, but insisted, “No, it’s not the spice. It’s hard to describe… but it’s weird. I’ve always loved the Spicy Chick-fil-A, but it’s uncanny … It’s hard to believe – maybe it’s my imagination – but it’s as if I can taste a trace of MORAL DECAY! Isn’t that weird? I dind’t think that all the negative feelings I have about this company’s proud corporate sponsorship of oppression, hatefulness, and open bigotry would affect the taste of your fine products – but apparently it actually does! It leaves a rotten taste in my mouth, and now I know my feelings can make a difference in the taste of your food.”
“Again, ma’am, I can get you another sandwich, or give you a refund.” She was polite an professional. She also looked puzzled and uncomfortable, since other patrons were listening. Some customers looked angry.
“I would appreciate a refund. Thank you for understanding. Will you tell me who owns this location so I can tell someone who has more influence? I know that you and your staff can’t control corporate, but please let your boss know that the sandwich and service is as high-quality as ever, and I feel like throwing up when I think of my money ending up funding such a hateful cause. It’s disgusting to me when wealthy corporations use their power to oppress people who lack rights afforded freely to others.” (Or something like that.) She took my card in order to give me my refund.
Just then an old guy in shorty shorts and knee socks stood up and shouted, “Well, this is my first time here, and I came to support the owners’ right to free speech, and I don’t want to hear about it!”
With that, he sat down haughtily at his little table by the trash can, and grumbled loudly when I addressed him in return. I had to raise my voice because he tried to drown me out by grumbling “Yeah, yeah, yeah…”
“Well, sir, I also have the right to express my opinion – as a patron and as an American!” He then said something incomprehensible while I explained that the Citizens United ruling allows people and corporations to be discreet about their political agenda, but that, instead, it is being rubbed in my face. It’s in the news, and I also have a right to speak up verbally and financially. “Chick-fil-A proudly funds and endorses bigotry, and I proudly disagree. It’s a shame I can’t stomach it because I’ve spent more money than you have on their otherwise great food!”
By now my refund was complete. I thanked the manager, and thanked the room for hearing me out, and concluded “Bon apetit!” I left, and could feel the tension disappear from a crowd relieved that I didn’t besmirch their precious little kids’ ears with any bad words like homophobia or gay or lesbian or hypocrite. To his credit, the old man had not called me a single name. He remained in his seat by the garbage can.
I know I’m not the only person upset that one can no longer in good conscience eat at Chick-fil-A. If YOU feel upset about your hard-earned cash getting openly given to hateful politics, I want you to know that a ONE-DOLLAR REFUND is far more disturbing to a corporation (and shareholders, and franchise operators) than a dollar NEVER spent there. Most companies use voided transactions as their indicator of efficacy, efficiency, employee honesty (high voids correlate with employee theft as well as inaccuracies in the sales procedure) and they are constantly monitoring transactions that are voided or refunded. If the cashier did not make a mistake, ask the manager to handle the transaction so a good employee won’t get in trouble for doing their job. Tell them exactly what the problem is – CORPORATE!
One reason corporations can’t tolerate high void rates and refunds is that it shows them the business they successfully attracted, but then lost. They spend lots of “MOO-lah” to attract customers and remind you to come in and spend. They pay for all that advertising, overhead, hire people to facilitate every step of the long journey from the chicken farm to the styrofoam (*ugh!*) box you open – and once you’ve done that much, they still want you to come back.
Show them you know about them, that their ads worked, that the food is good, that their employees work hard to make your experience a very good one – and show them clearly, in a way they’ll care about, that they are shooting themselves in the foot with their disgusting comments.
I promise you will feel good about sending this message. No need to plan an event or waste too much time! Do it when you have a moment. Repeat as desired.
DO’s AND DON’Ts!
- Do come with money. Do ring up a transaction! Do take your time in line. Do ask for a refund if your experience is impacted by Chick-fil-A’s policy of flagrant bigotry. Do ask a manager to address your concerns.
- Do remember that every customer has a right to their opinions, and preferences, and that taking your sweet time might cause other customers to choose a shorter, less controversial line at some other restaurant. Either way, let them know WHY you are in this dilemma, and that you wish you could go back to being oblivious to Chick-fil-A’s small-minded, oppressive, bigoted political agenda. Too bad it’s been it’s been such a stink in the press – that leaves a bad taste in our mouths!
- Do let others hear you, but don’t get into a shouting match. You probably have a rich, descriptive vocabulary in comparison with someone who never got past the Book of Genesis. Do use words like rotten, disgusting, vomit, reprehensible, sick-making, corrupt, decadent, vile, and other similar words their consultants will wish you hadn’t used in from of a room full of people trying to eat. But do be reasonable and honest.
- Do be prepared to succinctly, boldly, and civilly answer any nay-sayers like my own old Oscar the Grouch. Ooops, sorry – I know the Muppets want no part of this.
- Do be respectful, dignified, clear, and avoid being hostile. Children watching you are being exposed to an opposing viewpoint – perhaps for the first time – so set a good example!
- Do remember that your money speaks much louder than your words. Remember that the amounts, and frequency, of the voids is like an obsession for upper management. Remember to visit as many locations as possible!
- Don’t get too loud or hostile! Show that those of us who support the rights and freedoms of LGBT (and all other) Americans are kind, moral, smart, articulate, brave, and ready to spend money with businesses they like. Let them know how much money they’re losing with their harmful public statements.
- Don’t ask for a refund on a meal you finished. You want them to know you are not that desperate for the yummy sandwich. You must show them that it’s in their best interest to SHUT UP AND FRY CHICKEN. Keep the old bigots in the closet! (Also, old churchy FOX viewers hate to see food wasted. Maybe this will make them stay home until they die…)
- Don’t be afraid to point out that they lose a lot of solid customers when they lose you. Lawrence Welk fans are cheap.
This article is dedicated, with righteous indignation, to Stine, Leanne, and their sweet little son. Best wishes, ladies…