When a customer insulted a worker with autism, this restaurant owner had a spot-on response.
This restaurant owner does business the right way.
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.
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.
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."