When a customer insulted a worker with autism, this restaurant owner had a spot-on response.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, restaurant owner P.J. Gialopsos got a phone call from an irate customer.

As anyone who's worked in the service industry will tell you, an occasional dissatisfied customer is simply part of the job. But this particular customer of Little Italy Restaurante in Anchorage, Alaska, took it to a whole other level.


Photo via iStock.

Someone who'd ordered delivery service was upset over a mistake by one of Gialopsos' employees, who has autism.

A Little Italy employee made a small mistake with the customer's order (it happens with us humans from time to time). Instead of handling the situation with any ounce of level-headedness, however, the customer yelled at the delivery driver, who has autism, calling him inappropriate names, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. The customer then called the restaurant to complain about the driver, continued to use profanity, and even accused the employee of being on drugs.

“So (the driver) is a little awkward socially -- gee whiz -- that doesn't give you a right to call him a foul name and make his day miserable."
— P.J. Gialopsos

When customers have had issues with the employee before, Gialopsos said, usually things got smoothed out once the restaurant explained the employee has autism. This time, however, that didn't happen.

Frustrated, Gialopsos took to social media to explain that sort of attitude will not be tolerated at Little Italy's.

In a Facebook post published on Nov. 10, 2015, Gialopsos spelled out exactly what had happened and what she did about it.

"We have fired this customer," she wrote, noting that her employee is a "seriously accomplished university student," and has "one helluva work ethic."

"That address, that name, and phone number will be tagged with a DO NOT DELIVER DO NOT ACCEPT ORDER message."

Here's the entire post (story continues below):

"This has been pondered for days now: should I write this post and HOW should I write this post?

Over the weekend we received a complaint about one of our delievery drivers. The customer wasn't simply complaining, he was ranting and foul. He informed us our driver was an idiot and strung out on drugs and was FURIOUS!

It was calmly explained to him, no, this driver is not on drugs....nor does he drink....he is autistic and has a slight speech impediment. The customer called the phone person a liar, had a few more choice words for her and hung up.

When the driver returned, he came into my office a little shaken because the customer was angry (he had mixed up the pouch of food but quickly retrieved the correct order from his car. Mistakes are made all the time in the course of a business life, and when we make them we do our very best to correct the problem immediately. )...that didn't satisfy this man....he berated him and then called him a name I won't even elude to here.

It isn't the first time I've had a comment about this employee, but normally, as soon as I explain, they are always VERY understanding that the mannerisms had a reason.

This driver has worked for us for two years. He is a seriously accomplished University student, has an amazingly inquisitive personality, a wicked sense of humor and one helluva work ethic!

You would think, in the year 2015 the majority of the population would have learned or at least heard about autism. I understand that there is a large portion of our population that is content to remain uninformed and uneducated, but that doesn't give them to right to take that ignorance and turn it into a foul mouthed rant on two of my employees!

Therefore, we have fired this customer. That address, that name and phone number will be tagged with a DO NOT DELIVER DO NOT ACCEPT ORDER message.

...... And won't that customer be surprised later in life to learn that his "idiot strung out" delivery driver long ago turned out to be the physicist, microbiologist or chemical engineer who could quite possibly make a discovery that will save his sorry *** someday.

Just sayin'.
Thank you for allowing my own little rant here."

















Since it was published, the post has garnered more than 19,000 Likes and over 5,000 shares — quite the response for a small restaurant in Alaska.

“The fact that he has autism doesn't cross anyone's mind at the restaurant," Gialopsos told The Mighty. “We just work, he just works, that's it. Maybe it's the mom in me, but I had to write that response."

The response to Little Italy's post has been "overwhelming" for Gialopsos in the best possible way.

What does her employee think of all this positive attention? He's been thrilled, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

"I can honestly say kindness is not in short supply," Gialopsos wrote in a follow-up post on Facebook Nov. 13.

"Understanding still thrives....and good people do good things every single day...all over the world."

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

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Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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