Me, Lolita…..and Auturo!

Now there’s a zero chance that Lolita and I will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

You see, we “met” on a social media platform and, over the course of a week, went back and forth before our exchange went off the rail. It all started when she posted some especially negative feedback about her unhappiness with a newly opened Black-owned restaurant, one that I’d visited several times myself. Although far from perfect, a startup glitch here and there, my overall experience was pretty darn good.

Here’s our exchange:

ME: By any chance did you provide direct feedback to the restaurant’s management before posting your comments on this platform? Just asking.

Lolita: No. But I did write feedback on Yelp.

ME: Well, I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t expect perfection from a start-up enterprise and give them….

Lolita: You’re right, that’s your opinion sir and I have mine.

ME: Fine, but do you realize that blasting the business on social media can jeopardize the jobs of employees who depend on those jobs?

Lolita: Look dude, that’s not my problem. There’s no excuse for poor quality. Why the heck are you judging me?

ME: I’m not judging you. I just want you to consider the far-reaching impact of your trashing the establishment publicly rather than providing feedback on the spot which allows them to address the problem. I’ve done that and it was graciously appreciated.

Lolita: Goodbye sir!

ME: Try to understand that jobs in restaurants are important for teens and others looking for a second chance in life. And besides….

Lolita: Again, goodbye sir!

Oh well, at least I tried.  

But figuring that there’s more to learn here, I reached out to two folks whose views I greatly respect with a couple of questions:

What motivates unhappy customers to put negative feedback on Yelp and other social media rather than offer on the spot feedback to establishment managers so that they can improve? 

LESLIE: It might depend on how accessible managers are to receive the feedback. Otherwise, we live in an “It’s-All-About-Me” society where impulsiveness is easier than thinking about impact or consequences.  

BERNARD: People seek attention, validation and at times revenge. Yelp and social media provide the opportunity to be seen and heard. Positive feedback is intended to help while negative reviews are intended to hurt. If a person truly wanted to help then they would talk to management on the spot, express their dissatisfaction, and move on. Many have not been taught that if you have nothing “good” to say then keep your mouth shut. Leaving a negative review is empowering and allows the writer to feel a sense of self-importance and social elevation. Sometimes, it is an easy way to reveal the person’s ugliness and revengeful nature. 

What are the potential harmful effects on the restaurant of unhappy customers behaving this way? 

BERNARD: The loss of potential income which is necessary to sustain the business and grow. Constructive feedback is essential to the growth of any business.

LESLIE: The most obvious is the loss of business from people who rely heavily on reviews or word-of-mouth. However, I submit that the opposite could be true. When a restaurant provides good service, the owners would want people to share that news. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t expect selective assessments only when things are good.

How likely are you to avoid the establishment based solely on negative comments on social media? 

LESLIE: I look at Google reviews but don’t rely on a single review. If the majority leans one way, for example poor or good service, that’s when I decide. Reminds me of when someone tells me that they dislike someone, I will find out for myself.

BERNARD: I will tell anyone that if they truly want to help, then talk to management and keep emotions and negativity to yourself. Keep in mind you represent one encounter on one specific day. They may have had a bad hair day. Everybody has a bad day. It is not fair to tell the world how bad a person looked on their “bad hair day.” I would tell them that there is enough negativity in the world already. If you cannot say something positive, then keep quiet. I send out a card to clients when I close a sale. It says, “If I met your expectations, then tell others…..If I failed, then please tell Me”  

Here’s my departing message to Lolita (if you’re reading this).

Recently I drove by the restaurant that’s the focus of our, eh, “pleasant” exchange and observed a familiar car in the restaurant’s parking lot. It belongs to “Auturo,” someone you probably don’t know, a single dad of three who works there, his third part time job by the way. I decided to grab a bite, walked in and saw Auturo walking out of the kitchen with a pan of roast chicken.

ME: Hey brother, good to see you. How are you? How are the kids?

ARTURO: Good to see you too Mr. Terry. Just working hard trying to make ends meet. The kids are good. I have custody of them this week and we’re going to Six Flags and the movies.

ME: Enjoy your time with them. That chicken looks really good. Will stop by here again this weekend for dinner.

Oh, one more request Lolita; please send me your home address because I’d like to send you a Christmas card (with a $30 gift card) to the restaurant that’s the focus of this narrative. And if I happen to be there, I’ll introduce you to the manager.

Terry Howard is an award-winning trainer, writer, and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel,, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers guild, recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, and third place winner of the 2022 Georgia Press Award.


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