A waitress from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has made headlines this week after her incredible response to a homophobic insult was seen around the world. Michele Crider, an employee at a local Dash-In restaurant, had just finished serving a table when she spotted a surprising and upsetting message left by a customer. At the top of their receipt, one of the diners had written, “I DON’T TIP F*GS”. While it would have been easy to let the insult slide, Michele, who is openly gay, decided to take matters into her own hands.
Posting a video to Facebook, Michele decided to use the incident as an opportunity to try and educate everyone about the persistence of homophobia. Captioning the clip, “You know... I just hope this message gets back to this guy. You, sir, are a sad excuse for a human,” Michele’s message has now been seen more than 8 million times.
Directly addressing the customer who had insulted her, Michele outlined how she was defined by so much more than her sexuality. "When you look at me, all you see is a f*g,” she began, “but I need you to know something: I'm a lot more than that. I'm a mother. I work my butt off, sir, to pay my bills, to put my son into a good school and pay that tuition. I work my butt off to do things like that. I am a 33-year-old woman who is just now able to get on her own two feet and do things on her own. And then I have people like you who think it's acceptable to try to knock those people down.” She went on to add, "I hope you do not have children, sir. I hope you aren't raising a little human to grow up and be a bigot like you. I feel very, very bad for you."
Michele’s video also questioned why the customer had felt the need to write something so offensive in the first place. "I am all about people being entitled to their own opinions. I would like to say it's ok, but it's not ok,” she stated. “The fact that this has just become such an acceptable thing in our country. It doesn't matter whether you are gay, whether you are black, if you have a learning disability; it's OK now to spread that kind of hate. To say those kind of things to people. Why did you feel the need, sir, to write that on there? If you don't like gay people, then that's whatever. It is what it is. But to just say something like that? Just don't tip me."
In the immediate aftermath, the restaurant and its employees were quick to offer their support. Colleagues showed solidarity by sending Michele a bunch of flowers and a card, while the Dashi-In restaurant issued a public statement, writing, "On Feburary 19, 2019, one of our customers made a prejudicial comment to one of our employees. The Dash-In prides itself on providing a welcoming, safe haven for customers and employees from all walks of life. This incident only strengthens our resolve to be a force of good in our community. We will continue to support those in our extended Dash-In family. We eagerly welcome all those who share these values and can't wait to see you soon."
As depressing as Michele’s unfortunate experience clearly was, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to the displays of unity from her coworkers, the restaurant’s owner Emily Underwood revealed to WPTA21 that the local community have been just as eager to voice their support. The Dash-In has been swamped with "People dropping off gifts, people dropping off money, wanting to give Michele the tips she deserves, and just people wanting to show their support." It just goes to show that even the most upsetting of incidents can lead to something more positive.