Hate Groups on Facebook

One of the side effects of friending your friends, family and semi-random strangers on Facebook are the things they post on your wall or feed. Too much information is a given and I am certainly guilty of this myself. And not just on Facebook.

Around Family Day (that’s Presidents’ Day to you Americans – our holiday being apolitical and applicable to more than simply government employees) I began to notice that many of my teacher friends from my Iowa days of yore were joining a Facebook group called “Keep Legend’s American Grill Teacher (and Customer) Free”.

I am familiar with the restaurant. It’s part of a chain that is locally owned. I used to eat at its Firecreek off-shoot when I lived in the Jordan Creek area of West Des Moines. They are customers, in fact, of my BFF’s husband. He supplies them with paper products, glass ware and such. I think they are one of his biggest accounts, so a boycott movement would have a direct impact on my BFF and her family in a negative way that no one needs during a recession.

But I didn’t know specifics and didn’t really look into it. Iowa is far away from my life, and Facebook groups are white noise on my home page.

Sunday, I was glancing through the Des Moines Register’s op-ed’s and stumbled upon a piece about this boycott group and discovered that the idea for the boycott began with a teacher who found a hair in her salad.

Yeah. I was a little under-whelmed in the outrage department too.

Who HASN’T found a hair when eating out at some point?

It turns out that a group of teachers chose Legend’s for their lunch break during a recent DMPS teacher conference held at the city’s convention centre. One of them, Marsha Richards, who teaches at one of the high schools, found a hair in her salad and reported said hair to their waitress. In typical American service sector style the waitress said,

“Well I didn’t put it there.”

Again, where’s the outrage? This idea that wait staff, salespeople, housekeepers, and other minimally paid people are servants is widespread in my native land and that when they slip out of character (yes’um, dat’s a hair alright. I is mighty sorry I didn’t ‘spect the greens afore I served ’em) then … well …. middle class entitlement has a fury that hell flinches away from.

Perhaps that isn’t fair? Maybe. I don’t really expect much from service workers in terms of subservience and I am not at all surprised anymore when I ran across those who are having horrid days. Customers seem to think that the little bit of cash they are throwing around should buy them sniveling bootlickers.

The salad, by the way, was comped, but the request for the manager never produced one. Apparently, the restaurant was unaware of the conference and the fact that they were going to be mobbed for lunch. Normally, the downtown is quiet. Dead in fact. Legend’s was understaffed and if I know teachers let loose for lunch on a “school day” – and I do – they’d had their fill of picky, loud, taking up space forever and insisting on separate checks all day.

Unable to let it go, the group of teachers stalked the bar and plagued an overworked bartender until she was forced to drop everything and summon the owner. The owner, incidentally, is not known for his charming personality.

Words were exchanged as Ms.Richards appeared bent on schooling the owner in how to train his wait staff. He went off and told the women to “get out” and that he didn’t want any more teachers coming into his place. Period.

And so they left and one would think that aside from the wonderfully gossipy story this made for the rest of the afternoon – because teachers love to tell tales – that the matter was at an end.

But that would have only happened if Richards didn’t have email and a public school mailing list at her disposal.

The email, which is contained in the link above, called for teachers and those who love and support them to boycott not just the outlet where she was so poorly treated but all the affiliated eateries.

Because of a hair and a frazzled waitress multiple places of business should be avoided in the hopes of ….what? Putting them out of business? According to a response by someone with more people savvy than the Legend’s owner, about 500 people are employed between all the outlets. This doesn’t include those businesses that contract with the restaurants like my BFF’s husband.

So, let’s shit on hundreds of people because one woman has some sort of issue that involved a tremendous need for her hurt, embarrassed feelings to be publicly validated.

Good move.

And of course, because it’s Facebook and – unfortunately – teachers (who can be like lemmings – follow first/think for yourself later) thousands of people joined the Facebook group. Thousands.

I expressed dismay about the group on my FB page and a teacher friend who joined the group disagreed with my assessment. She saw it as discrimination and a civil rights issue as though teachers were some sort of socially cast aside minority which, as I recall, isn’t true. It’s not like teachers in the U.S. are being forced to wear gold stars or are shunted off to “separate but equal” sections of theatres or public transit. We are reviled for our privileged employment status and perks but we aren’t being targeted for any sort of final solution.

As we were discussing Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in yoga training Sunday evening, the topic of how to deal with “mean” people came up. I noted that the younger the respondent, the more likely “standing up for yourself” was the answer.

I was like that for a long time, and I won’t pretend that people and things don’t sometimes still get my back up, but as Pantanjali points out – and I concur – we have no control over anything but our own reactions and responses. Additionally, our perception of any event is coloured by our own personal stories and may not reflect at all what the event or other person is about in the least.

The harried waitress may well have been inclined to apologize once she was able to step back from a table of eight women passing judgement on her but Richards’ inability to not take the hair and the initial response personally may have made it too difficult. Who wants to be bullied into apologizing for something that wasn’t her fault? Or gloated over for that matter?

Not me and I am guessing not you or Marsha Richards. It’s just human nature.

In the end, all we can do is step back, breathe and walk away when life, and the people who populate it, are caught up in dramas that threaten our own karma. Karma has nothing to do with payback, positive or negative. It is an entirely individual thing that one must mind and guard for one’s own sake.

Oh, and I didn’t join the FB group.

4 responses to “Hate Groups on Facebook

  1. That was an awesome post. I was a waitress for years, and I eat out. Coming from both ends of those spectrums, what you said was right on. And…. I’m from Iowa and I had no idea!!! Some people (including all types, not just teachers) just want to feel important or justified in said scenario…. and basically, it’s a load of crap. I’ve had everything from glass to a maggot (gross, very very gross I know) in my food… it happens. Deal with it and move on… 🙂

  2. This post made me relax my breathing! I am now working with someone who is extraordinarily good at “owning” only her own stuff, and not reacting to anyone else’s stuff. It’s a good example for me.

    Thanks for the post!

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