By Chris Hoenig
Candea and Sam Aarons are irate after discovering a racial slur written on their valet ticket after picking up their car in an Atlanta suburb.
Candea, who is Black, and Sam, a white military vet who recently returned from Kuwait, had stopped for a New Year’s Day dinner at Spondivits restaurant in East Point, Ga. When they picked up their car, a tag was still attached to the keys that read “jungle fever,” a slur for an interracial couple.
“I’ve never had their [valet] tag left on the key,” Candea Aarons said. “He wanted us to see it.” The couple did, and immediately contacted Spondivits and APS Valet, the company contracted by the restaurant to park cars. “We had no idea that the valet was looking at us or thinking of us in such a manner,” she said.
Rather than getting a formal apology, however, the couple was only offered a gift certificate for dinner, which they turned down. “We have never been so blatantly described in such a blatantly appalling manner ever,” Candea Aarons said. “I shouldn’t have to feel this way.”
APS said the valet that wrote the description, who the Aaronses said is Black, has been fired, adding that “APS does not tolerate racism of any kind whatsoever.” Spondivits’ chef, Glenn Gagn, took to Facebook after refusing to speak to reporters. “Spondivits will not tolerate racial speak by employees or customers on our property,” he wrote. “We are known for our racial diversity. We have been seen with our logo on the side of a NASCAR Truck one week then we are featured as lyrics in Rap / Hip Hop songs by artists like Jeezy the next week. We have been credited for our diversity by many entertainment magazines. We simply have no tolerance for racism!
Gagn also attempted to explain the practice of writing descriptive phrases on valet tickets, saying that employees do so in order to identify customers when they leave the restaurant, and that he doesn’t believe the fired valet is a racist. “It is very common for them to write ‘red ballcap,’ ‘leather jacket,’ ‘white beard,’ etc. This valet wrote an unacceptable description on this customer’s ticket, but it was not him trying to send a racist message to the customers. He just has poor taste and this cost him his job.”
Gagn also faulted labor laws for preventing APS from knowing whether the fired valet had any history of racist behavior at past jobs. But for Candea Aarons, the whole experience was unfortunately eye opening. “I was unaware, I was unprepared and I was unaware racism is alive and well,” she said. “You can’t just do things or say things, people, and think there are no repercussions behind it.”