Finger Lickin’ Con

Do you ever stop and wonder just how gullible people are?

Seven Herbs and Spices and a $30,000 check for Internet Extortion.

Yes, it is finger lickin’ good, but you’ll have to go elsewhere on account of your face.

I had to stop and wonder about this, again, when I read about the Internet Outrage of the Week, Little Girl Kicked Out of KFC. Quick summary: Grandma claims heartless Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC workers kicked her and her three year old granddaughter out of some Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC in Mississippi after another customer complained about the girl’s disfiguring facial scars, suffered back in April when the girl was attacked by Granpa’s pitbulls. Auntie posts the incident on Facebook, donations flood in to the tune of $130,000 and Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC promises $30,000 and an investigation.

I read the story and was reminded of previous Internet Outrages of the Week.  Perhaps you remember the Red Lobster waitress,Toni Christina Jenkins, in Tennessee who logged onto Facebook to post a picture of a customer’s receipt with the N word written in place of a tip amount. And just to show that the Northeast, home of Eastern Elitism, is not immune to this phenomenon, Dayna Morales, a waitress in New Jersey, claimed that a customer wrote this novel note on the receipt in lieu of leaving a tip: “Sorry, I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life.” Morales must be the last living person not to have a Facebook account so her story did not go viral until Have a Gay Day posted it on their Facebook.

Now my curriculum vitae includes the double misfortune of having waitressed and also worked in the fast food industry and all the stories sounded, well, odd to me when I first heard them.  My experience one long, horrible summer working as the “Fry Girl” (I scooped french fries into their cartons during the lunch rush) at Wendy’s™ had taught me that customers who eat fast food want to eat food fast, they don’t sit around the dining area observing the other patrons to determine who might offend their sensibilities enough to disturb the digestion of a Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe, ordered off the Dollar Menu (since my sojourn at Wendy’s™, there’s been a name change and it’s now the Right Price, Right Size Menu and it costs you a $1.49). And also, fast food workers lack both the initiative to respond as well as act on customer complaints, so if someone did complain (which was unlikely), it was hard for me to believe that an employee of the restaurant would do anything.

As for waitressing, a few customers tip well, a few don’t tip at all, but most give the standard 15-20%. No one ever wrote me any offensive messages on the receipt, unless we count that dorky guy who wrote his phone number that one time. Considering the sort of waitress I was, someone probably should have taken a moment to give me some helpful career advice such as “You suck!” on the tip line.  Diners are more concerned about the food, their date, whether they’ll make the movie on time, why their car makes that weird noise every time they turn right, or just about anything other than their server. I really doubted that someone would communicate their racism or homophobia using the forum of a restaurant receipt.

Here's some money, Internet Stranger.  I hope you feel better.

Here’s some money, Internet Stranger. I hope you feel better.

As you may have guessed, both stories turned out to be hoaxes: the Red Lobster customer came forward to proclaim that he was no racist, just cheap, and had stiffed the waitress and wrote nothing on the tip line and a New Jersey couple contacted the news media with their copy of the receipt showing an $18 tip on a $93 check and no reference to “lifestyle.” Unfortunately, the stories weren’t debunked until Jenkins got $10,000 and Morales $3,000 from strangers on the Internet who had heard about their (fake) plights.

And I suspected this KFC story would turn out to be untrue as well. By Wednesday, the results of the internal investigation were released. From the Washington Post“Viral Story of Disfigured Girl Kicked Out of KFC Was a Hoax”:

Security camera footage from that KFC and another near the hospital did not show children matching Victoria’s description going into either restaurant on May 15, according to sources interviewed by the Leader-Call. Nor did any orders taken that day include both sweet tea and mashed potatoes – what Mullins claimed she ordered for her granddaughter.

I guess my interest in this story and others like it comes from the fact that we are so quick to believe the worst about our fellow human beings (“Of course some idiot complained about a scarred girl, and of course the idiot fast food workers kicked the poor girl out!”) and also our willingness to give money to strangers on the Internet, while we walk by homeless people warming themselves over heating grates in Center City Philadelphia (ok, maybe you haven’t done that, but I’ll admit that I have).

Or maybe I’m the one who’s believing the worst about my fellow human beings when I’m skeptical about the story of a scarred girl in Mississippi.

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7 thoughts on “Finger Lickin’ Con

  1. Trent Lewin says:

    Well sometimes you got to be critical about stories, and I don’t blame you for that. I do think these restaurant workers are complete turds, though, for basically lying and trying to make money off that lie. Big bad total boo on them.

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    • Karen says:

      I’m not defending them, but I don’t know if either Jenkins or Morales, the two waitresses I mentioned in the post, intended to make money off their stories initially. I think the women put their stories out there on the internet to garner sympathy/attention and never anticipated this rather bizarre response of the American public in the 21st century to tales of woe: give money to complete strangers. To their discredit, the women then took advantage of the suckers born every minute.

      While Jenkins and Morales may not have intended to use their stories as money makers, the same cannot be said of the Mullins family, who posted the “Kicked Out of KFC” story and then directed folks to their GoFundMe page.

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  2. Dagny says:

    Moral of the story: I need to cook up some really sad sounding story about being discriminated against and I can retire with the moolah. Yup… that’s a plan!

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