Every once in awhile, the world’s anti-Catholicism hits home. What follows is a bit of a long story, but if you have any interest in anti-Catholicism (as I do), you may find it interesting.
On Sunday, August 5, I was returning from a trip with my 10-year old son and we had a layover in the Cincinnati airport. We were hungry, so we went to the X Pretzel stand. I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of John Paul II that said “Pope John Paul II The Great.” When I got to the front of the line, a Mr. X, upon seeing my t-shirt, asked me, “What do you think about the current Pope”? I said, “I love him.” Mr. X then snickered and said, “He was a Nazi youth, you know.” I didn’t expect the blindside hit, and all I could muster was, “Oh, please.” Mr. X’ response was, “Well, he was, and you can’t change the facts.”
I did not respond further and simply decided to report what had happened. I then took a comment card from the wall, and walked away.
In the gate area, I pulled out my laptop and logged on to the X’s website. I wrote an email detailing the event, and added the following editorial comment:
*You are probably thinking, “Hey, what is the big deal”? That’s a fair question. The answer is, I took Mr. **X’ comments as offensive for two reasons. First, because I am a Catholic. Second, and probably more importantly, because my father happened to have been imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I suppose that the fact that I don’t have any grandparents or a cousin because the Nazis burned them in the crematorium while my father watched is the reason Mr. ** comments left me both speechless and humiliated.
Perhaps your company dislikes Catholics, or does not want Catholics to buy your pretzels, or instructs its employees to make anti-Catholic comments to all its customers . . . I can only wonder if Mr. ** or your company would insult a black person wearing a Martin Luther King t-shirt, or if you would condone such an insult to a black person (or a woman or a Jew or a Hispanic or an Asian). *
This email was addressed to 12 people whose addresses I could find on the website. I also filled out a little form that was not a direct email, and that did not have enough room for the full email.
Frankly, I expected a response – at least something like “thanks for writing, hope you enjoyed the pretzel, and have a nice day” – first thing Monday. Nothing came. On Tuesday afternoon, I got an email from a customer service woman who had, apparently, read the form, thanked me for my comments, and asked me to send her more information. Evidently, none of the 12 original recipients had forwarded my email to her, let alone responded to it directly. I sent the original email, and she said she would forward it to the franchisee.
Nine days after the original incident and six days after the franchisee was supposed to have been notified, I had not heard from anyone. I resent the original email to the original 12 and the customer service woman.
The next day, I got the following email from the franchisee. Rather than expound on the depth and thoughtfulness of the response, or the time, energy, and effort he must have put into the response, I think a simple “cut and paste” will give you the best insight into how seriously he took my compliant and Mr. X’ behavior:
*I am sorry for your experience at our store. I have counseled the employee involved. **X, Store Manager *
That was the franchisee’s full response – 19 words. I then sent one final email to the others, forwarding Mr. X’s email, and adding:
I just don’t think you guys get it; you all seem to have a profound misunderstanding of the magnitude of this complaint and the underlying problem. Besides the lame response from Mr. X*, I would have expected, at a minimum, at least one or two of you to write back with, “Hey, it is not my department but I’ll pass this along,” or “Gosh, I’m really sorry about this, even thought it’s not my responsibility, and I will see that this gets in the right person’s hand,” or, well, something other than complete and total silence. I guess that actions (inactions?) do, indeed, speak louder than words sometimes. *
Six days later, on August 21, I got two nice emails from their corporate attorney, who, it appears, is a well-formed Catholic. Basically, he apologized for the incident, but, while this was appreciated, one might say that it’s a “day late and a dollar short.”
So, that’s it. Am I going to do anything more about this? No. Am I going to sue anyone? Of course not. Am I going to write any more letters or emails to anyone else at the company? Nope. Am I ever going to purchase a single X’s product again? Not on your life. Am I going to tell everyone I can about the insensitive incident and the lame response? You betcha.