While you’ve probably handled thousands of receipts in your life, you’ve probably never been given one that has an insult on it, directed at you. Appallingly, after one 25-year-old man was handed a receipt, he discovered that it had a racial slur written on it, aimed at him.
In Young Lee is a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Following a Friday night out in Philadelphia, he and some friends decided to treat themselves to some junk food.
They went to a Taco Bell, and Lee ordered two nacho cheese Doritos Locos Taco. However, Lee would ultimately leave the restaurant feeling insulted and angry. It all started with a comment typed on his receipt.
When Lee was ordering his food, he told the cashier that his name was “Steve” rather than trying to explain that it was “In Young.” Lee explained, “Usually, when I’m asked for a name at a restaurant or café, I give a fake Anglo name instead of ‘In Young,’ because otherwise I would have to spell it out – which fails most [of] the time anyway – making it inconvenient for both the cashier and me.”
However, what seemed to be a simple request turned into something else entirely. The first-year student told CBS Philly that after reading the name typed on the receipt, he was so furious that he had to confront the cashier and question them.
And it’s no surprise that he felt the need to do so. In fact a racial slur had been typed onto the receipt. “Normally, I would let things like this go, but under the current political climate I find it very important to address such issues and voice them loudly and clearly,” Lee said.
So what did the receipt say? Instead of simply writing “Steve” as his name on the bill, the cashier had typed “Steve Chink.” Shocked by the comment, Lee confronted the worker and let them know that it was entirely unacceptable.
Lee explained, “When I confronted him, he said that there are three Steves in the restaurant so he needed to differentiate. It made me even more upset that he was protecting his case rather than apologizing, so I lashed out.”
And the medical student didn’t hold back. Indeed, he told the cashier that it was “extremely disrespectful to use such a derogatory slur.” The exchange eventually led to a well-deserved apology and, although Lee was still hurt, he chose to accept it and let the situation go. Sadly, though, that was not the end of the matter.
After Lee sat back down, he then heard the cashier discussing what had happened with other staff members in the kitchen and laughing about it. Shockingly, he even heard them continuing to use the word “Chink.” He marched to the counter to stick up for himself once again.
Lee vented his frustration and started yelling at the Taco Bell cashier. And Lee was not alone. His friends, along with other diners, joined in to defend him.
Lee then snatched his food away from another worker. That’s when the manager stepped in to stop the situation from escalating. The manager apologized on behalf of his staff but also pointed out that Lee was being disrespectful himself. “I was dumbfounded,” Lee said. “It was as if he was trying to defuse the situation by redirecting the blame on to me.”
Lee left the Taco Bell still dazed by the situation. He later said, “I thought incidents like this only happen in the news, and [I] never expected it to happen to me, but I guess it really does happen in the real world.”
He decided to share his story on social media and, unsurprisingly, it soon went viral. He posted a photo of the bill on Facebook and ran through the incident in full. Describing the moment that he realized that he had been insulted, Lee wrote, “Our interaction was very ordinary and cordial even, until I saw my name on the receipt that read ‘STEVE CHINK.’”
The post received more than 1,000 reactions, 200 shares and 300 comments. Only naturally, the most common response was one of anger. And unsurprisingly, users on social media sided strongly with Lee and expressed grave disappointment with the restaurant chain.
Facebook user Laura Crawford was one of many to write to Lee. She said, “I’m so sorry you had to go through this. It’s totally and completely unacceptable! It makes me increasingly ashamed to be American when people in this country behave that way. I hope they made sure the employee was appropriately punished. It’s a shame your night had to be wrecked.”
Lee, however, hopes that his ordeal is at least used as an example for future employees. He told CBS Philly, “I want them to complete a mandatory training about racial consciousness. I want people to be more aware of what they are thinking, what their behaviors are like.”
And the incident didn’t reflect well on the restaurant chain. Indeed, soon after the incident, the offending cashier was fired. Taco Bell released a statement that read, “We do not tolerate this behavior. This employee no longer works for the brand, and the franchise is retraining its staff to ensure this incident will not happen again.” And hopefully, it doesn’t.
This is the first time that Lee has ever suffered abuse like this, he said. “It’s never happened to me before,” he told CBS Philly. “I’ve been called names before, [but] I don’t usually address it.”
We can only hope that Lee’s bravery in standing up for himself and sharing his story will bring society one step closer to respecting all colors and creeds equally. Moreover, Taco Bell’s employees would do especially well to learn from this story, so that no other customer ends up feeling the way that Lee did.