You know me, guys. I’m always standing up for the rights of restaurant workers and saying the things we’re not allowed to say when we’re on the clock. Well, fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy blog post. Someone, who shall remain forever and always anonymous, sent me a photo of a letter that made its way to an Olive Garden from a very unhappy customer:
To whom it concerns:
We dined at your restaurant today and were greeted by a guy who think’s he’s a girl. This repulses us, and we ask that you please do something about this. We do not wish to be greeted by sexual deviants at your restaurant. You say you are a family restaurant, but when you put perverts out front like that, it certainly is not family friendly. Thank you.
I have so many things to unpack here it feels like I need my own personal valet. First of all, why does Cheryl even need to waste a stamp on something like this? The United States Postal Service has enough to deal with without having to ferry Cheryl’s bullshit opinion across town. But let’s fully digest her letter, shall we?
“We dined at your restaurant today and were greeted by a guy who think’s he’s a girl.” Maybe she IS a girl. Or perhaps he’s a “he.” Possibly they’re even a “they!” Whatever the case may be, the pronoun of the person behind the host stand at Olive Garden doesn’t affect the taste of the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno.
“This repulses us, and we ask that you please do something about this.” The only thing repulsive about this is that Cheryl thought it was a good idea to send the letter at all. Clearly, she didn’t think about how someone would feel when they were called “repulsive.” She wants someone to do something about it, but what is there to do other than embrace people for who they are?
“We do not wish to be greeted by sexual deviants at your restaurant.” Trans or non-binary people aren’t anymore sexually deviant than a middle-aged woman who eats at Olive Garden and has missionary sex with her husband once a month and gives two blow jobs a year (his birthday and on their wedding anniversary.) Generalize much, Cheryl?
“You say you are a family restaurant, but when you put perverts out front like that, it certainly is not family friendly.” And where exactly should a person who lives their life as their true self be “put” if not out front? Hiding them in the kitchen doesn’t mean they no longer exist. All that does is is add another layer of extra-strength idiocy onto the bubble you live in. And family friendly? This person whose job is to greet customers as they walk into Olive Garden has a family too and hopefully that family is nothing like Cheryl. Olive Garden does consider itself a family restaurant. Even their commercials says, “when you’re here, you’re family.” Darden Restaurants, the company that owns Olive Garden, says their “values have been forged over an 80-plus-year history. We look to these values — Inclusion & Diversity; Respect & Caring; Always Learning, Always Teaching; Integrity & Fairness; Teamwork; Excellence; Being of Service — as we work to fulfill our mission.” “Inclusion and diversity,” Cheryl. Did you see that? It looks like Olive Garden is standing behind their core beliefs and if you don’t like that, you don’t have to fucking eat there.
“Thank you. -Cheryl Nielson.” No, thank YOU Cheryl. Thank you for signing your name to this letter. I put a lot of thought into whether or not I should block out the last name, but ultimately decided to share it. I figured if she was brave enough to sign her name and share her opinion with total strangers at Olive Garden, then she should be brave enough to have it shared with a few more people on the Internet. Besides, there are approximately 396,678 people named Cheryl in the United Staes and 12,297 people with the last name of Nielson. No one really knows who this Cheryl Nielson is. I’m not saying the town she lives or even the state and there’s no photo of her. Just her name and her signature. Cheryl will know who she is if she ever sees this post and so will her family and friends. Hopefully, one of them will tell her how absolutely wrong she was to have written this letter.
And to the person that Cheryl wrote this letter about: you keep doing you and living your truth. Continue greeting people at the Olive Garden and be grateful that you are comfortable in your own skin. That is a gift that a lot of people do not have. You’re fortunate. Cheryl just needs to pull the unlimited breadstick out of her ass and focus on her own life.