Maybe you heard about the woman who ordered a Papa John’s pizza and was handed, along with her pie, a receipt that identified her as “Lady Chinky Eyes.” Papa John’s swiftly sacked the teenaged employee with the, uh, creative powers of description and apologized on Twitter. The nation’s fast-food restaurants were once again purged of racism. But have they ever been?

You might recall that just last month, an Asian-American resident adviser at the University of California, Irvine who took a few of his students out to Chick-fil-A and was handed receipts identifying one as “Ching” and another as “Chong.”

And can we ever forget the story of Mark McHenry, an African-American man who regularly patronized the Landmark Steakhouse in Corona del Mar, California? In December 2010 (during Corona del Mar’s annual Christmas Walk), McHenry received a couple of charming receipts that used the N-word to describe him.

We could go on. Like the Domino’s that handed three little girls a receipt that read “[N-word] don’t tip.” Or the guy who picked up his drink from a Starbucks barista in a cup ID’ing him as “Big Dick” (though whether this was meant as an insult or a compliment is still unclear).

It’s not that fast-food employees shouldn’t be free to bitch about rude customers. Hey, you’re getting paid 12 cents an hour to work in a room so heavy with grease it coats your shoelaces and stiffed for dollar tips. Complaining, even ranting, should be the right of all who are forced to greet members of the public with cheerful smiles.

But please, in 2012, let’s refrain from racist and other toxic insults, and instead express contempt for customers in the time-honored way of servers everywhere: with a simple, old-fashioned sneer.

Image source: Papa John’s receipt from Twitter

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