I will admit it; when I heard about the Asian woman who found her Papa John’s receipt had her listed as “Lady Chinky Eyes”, I chuckled a bit. I also think the cries of racism and outrage aimed at the popular pizza franchise are a little outrageous. I guess maybe I’m racist too.
Here’s the story. Minhee Cho came home from Papa John’s to find an employee at a New York restaurant had given her the moniker. She posted a photo of the receipt on Twitter, along with the message; “Hey @ Papa John’s, my name isn’t Lady Chinky Eyes”. Probably the most reasonable response to this whole thing.
This Cho lady must have had a lot of followers, because the image went viral. Papa John’s was besieged by Tweets from angry people, criticizing the franchise for the behavior of its employees. Papa John’s rightfully issued an apology, and terminated the offending idiot.
Now I get why people would be upset at the employee. Not only did they act unprofessionally, but they were also disrespectful, a bit mean, and really, really stupid. Only a total moron would do something like this in the age of social media and not expect a media sh*tstorm. I’m glad they lost their job. Somebody has to teach these people you can’t do these things and stay employed.
However, I have to draw the line at whether or not they were being racist though. I think it depends on his or her reason for doing it, and I doubt anybody but the employee and the people around him can known that. I don’t think giving a customer the name “Lady Chinky Eyes” necessarily makes you a racist.
Lets be perfectly honest with ourselves. When was the last time you chuckled at, or told a joke, that made fun at the expense of race, sex, or religion? If you’re like most people, you know laughing at a joke about African Americans, or nick-naming the Arab hotel manager where you’re staying “Ackbar” doesn’t make you racist. Being a dick, and acting like a dick, makes you racist.
Of course, there are people out there who believe laughing at race, sex, and religion jokes, or giving people cute nicknames in private does make you a racist, or at least makes you a promoter of racism. There are also people out there who think holding hands is a sex act.I think, as in all things, people need to be a little reasonable.
As for Papa John’s culpability in this, I think people are being a little harsh. On comment read “Your employees are your brand”. This is true. However, I think it is unreasonable to think the franchise itself was negligent in employing this person. This isn’t Minority Report. There is no line on the application for; “Are you going to do something stupid that will turn into a press nightmare?” (though I’d have it on mine). Unless an employee is a real maniac, it is hard to tell when somebody is going to do something stupid, until they do it. Even if they are a real maniac, it can be hard to terminate somebody because you think they might eventually take their personal thoughts on the road with one of your customers.
Now if Papa John’s was hiring KKK people exclusively, refusing service to minorities, making them pay before getting their meals, or poisoning them, that would be a different story.
The bottom line here, is I miss having a Papa John’s, and all this writing about them makes me really want a ham, onion, and mushroom pizza; like the ones I never got to order unless I by myself. I’ve tried to order them at other places, but they’re never as good.
*Author’s note: I’m now eating dirty pizza from last Saturday. Nowhere near as good as Papa John’s racist pizza.