In a world where rudeness can be commonplace, sometimes the best answer is kindness.
Take the case of a Pizza Inn in Greenville, South Carolina, where the owner transformed a customer’s rudeness into an inspiring gesture.
On a regular Sunday, when a customer asked Ryan Mosley, an employee with Down Syndrome, to refill the salad bowl, the customer wasn’t pleased with the response he got.
The owner relayed, “My manager explained to him the situation privately, ‘That’s not his job. We’ve trained him to do this and there are special circumstances,’ and the customer was still not happy.”
To add insult to injury, this disgruntled customer had a peculiar suggestion: why not post a sign warning patrons about employees with special needs?
Amanda Cartagine, the owner-operator of Pizza Inn, was understandably irked.
“These are like my kids, and it made me angry. I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across,” Amanda emphasized.
Amanda’s Pizza Inn isn’t just any pizza place.
It stands out because she’s built a diverse and supportive team.
In fact, about 60% of her staff have special needs.
Amanda firmly believes in their capabilities.
“If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace, when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable,” she remarked.
Indeed, Amanda’s compassion and commitment extend beyond just running a business.
“Some of us have different color hair, some of us have tattoos, some of us have different walks or personalities, but as a unit, we are family,” she beautifully puts it.
So, how did Amanda address the insensitive customer suggestion?
Instead of letting it slide or reacting in anger, Amanda crafted a graceful counter-response.
She erected a sign, but it wasn’t the warning the customer had in mind.
It was a message filled with heart.
Her sign proudly declared, “We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire all of God’s children.”
The community rallied behind this strong statement of inclusion.
As for that particular customer’s opinion on her new sign?
Amanda’s fiery spirit shone through, “If he is not OK with that, then I’m OK with him not coming back. That’s a dollar that I don’t need.”
Ryan Mosley, who ignited this whole chain of events, flourished under Amanda’s nurturing leadership.
He joined Pizza Inn during the summer and has been thriving ever since.
His mom, Angie, shared his joy: “He loved the fact that he has money in the bank and he can actually go buy his favorite video game.”
Angie was initially disheartened by the complaint about her son, noting that few businesses even consider hiring individuals with special needs.
“We parents with special needs (children) are always faced with breaking down barriers, stigmas, teaching other people that our children are more like them, than different,” Angie explained.
Amanda Cartagine isn’t just serving pizza, she’s dishing out lessons on kindness, inclusivity, and standing up for what’s right.
She’s setting a precedent, urging everyone to embrace differences and rise above biases.
As Ryan’s mom hopes the sign will inspire more open-mindedness, it’s clear that Amanda’s Pizza Inn is indeed a beacon of hope.