As anyone who knows me will attest I am a very passionate person by nature. And normally my passion, in this particular space, covers topics like branding, marketing, advertising, social media and so on. I write about my thoughts on the aforementioned topics and hopefully anyone reading what I have to say, er write, will come away the better for it.
Today, however, I want to share with you two stories – each dealing with a five-year old child in very different, albeit equally difficult circumstances.
Each should serve as a lesson to all of us and serve as a not-so-gentle reminder that ignorance is still rampant in our world and common sense is a truly lost art for for many. And yes, there is a lesson to be learned here for brands, marketers and advertisers – at least one lesson such as the customer is NOT always right.
You’ll see what I mean.
The first story comes from Houston, home of a restaurant called Laurenzo’s Prime Rib and a waiter named Michael Garcia. Not long ago Garcia was waiting on Laurenzo’s regulars Kim Castillo and her 5-year-old son, Milo, who is very popular among the employees.
According to a story in the New York Daily News “Castillo and her family were sitting at their table for all of 10 minutes when a group across from them got up and moved to the back of the restaurant. Their waiter Michael Garcia didn’t think too much of the move until one bit of conversation caught his attention. He heard a man in the group say, “’Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.’”
That’s right. A man, an adult man – who was in the restaurant with his family, uttered what is arguably some of the most offensive words I have ever heard in my life: “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.”
According to Castillo, Garcia, the waiter, then refused to serve this man and his family after hearing such horrific words. She wrote on her Facebook wall “The waiter promptly told them he was offended by their comment and refused to serve them.”
My hat goes off to Michael Garcia who risked his job by his actions. “I had considered whether or not I would lose my job, but I knew it wasn’t right,” he said. “I could find another job and my guests would follow me.”
As to the gentleman who said those disgusting words, apparently he too was a regular at the restaurant with the operative word being “was.”
Clearly this was a classic of case of the customer is not always right and the lesson to brands, marketers and advertisers? Well remember the words your employees use carry a lot of weight. As Pam Moore just wrote about for Social Media Today, “Every employee within your company is a walking billboard of your brand. If you don’t like what they say, do, tweet, think, post, pin, video tape or sing about your brand, then you better start on the inside out and fix it.”
Now juxtapose what Pam – who has been named as one of the Top 10 Influencers in social media by Forbes, wrote over this story. Do you think whatever company this man who said such derogatory things is proud of him today? Do you think they would want to hold him up as an example of their brand, their company, their values?
Don’t think so.
Common Sense Is Not So Common
The next story comes from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania and involves, well, here’s one of the headlines about the story: Pennsylvania kindergartener uses Hello Kitty bubble-gun at school, suspended for “terrorist threat”
Here’s how one writer at boingboing.net characterized the whole incident:
“Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania suspended a five-year-old girl for pointing a Hello Kitty bubble-gun at another student, characterizing this as a “terrorist threat.” The little girl had to undergo psychiatric evaluation before she was allowed back in.
Her parents say that they couldn’t get their daughter into another school, because no one wanted a kid with “terrorist” on her transcript. They’re considering a lawsuit.”
The little girl even told her mom that she was being told she could go to jail by school officials. For their part the Mount Carmel Area School District said the allegations “may not be consistent with the facts” adding that they take “the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously.”
I will be very interested to learn in the coming days and weeks of any inconsistencies the school district alluded to.
And as for the other part, that sounds fine, doesn’t it?
Surely we want the well-being and safety of students and staff taken very seriously, right?
But at some point doesn’t common sense have to enter into the equation?
Doesn’t the letter of the law have to be interpreted differently in a situation such as this?
Don’t you think the adults in this case could have exercised some common sense before overreacting, allegedly, in the manner in which they did?
So it would appear ignorance and lack of common sense are in abundance despite all the advances we collectively make every day. Perhaps it’s good to hear about stories like these to remind us of that.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions.