Erin's Journal

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Just a thought... If you have to choose between being liked and being heard, choose being heard. [Tara Jaye Frank]

Well, here's some good news: according to the New York Times, FDA food inspectors are being brought back to work, so perhaps I can feel safe buying salads from the store again.
 
I promised you yesterday that I'd finish my Olive Garden story.
 
To recap: Rob and I visited the restaurant in nearby Palm Desert to treat ourselves to their salad, breadsticks and menu offerings. If you've seen the American ads for their lobster, shrimp mac & cheese, I can tell you that there was far more lobster on TV than there was in my little dish, but it was satisfying nonetheless. Uncharacteristically, since it was a "special item" there were no calories posted on the menu; I guess that means the dish didn't have any? Yeah - nice try. I ordered it anyway.
 
When we entered the restaurant, we noticed three TVs behind the bar. One had on Fox "News." I tweeted about that and was sent a direct message asking that I continue the conversation off Twitter and they apologized for letting me down. While I realized that was a pretty standard cut-and-paste response, I was somewhat satisfied even to have been heard. Then I got this email from the actual restaurant itself.
 


 
Dear Erin,
 
The televisions in our restaurants are usually tuned to news or sports. Our employees should also change the channel if there is any objectionable content. Because they spend most of their time serving our guests, it's not always possible to monitor what's on the screen. We're sorry that Fox News being aired took away from your dining experience.
 
Comments from our guests are appreciated, especially when we didn’t meet your expectations, and yours will ensure we are always serving you in the best manner possible.
 
Sincerely,
 
Sonali
Olive Garden Guest Relations

Someone on my Facebook page yesterday suggested that maybe the TV had been left on after a football game; I responded to him that Fox "News" doesn't air football (at least not to my knowledge) but that, of course, their programming network - the one that carries The Simpsons, etc. - does. So, no, that wasn't the case.
 
At least they got back to me. At least. I don't know if we'll choose to dine there again, as there are so many different offerings (yes, even a Cheesecake Factory) and we rarely go out to dinner. So it's wise to spread our little Canadian dollars around when we go out.
 
But I feel that at least this one person has been heard. What they choose to do with my input is completely up to them. Red Lobster wisely pulled their ads from hateful Tucker Carlson's show after he said that immigrants make America "poor" and "dirtier." People are making themselves heard with their wallets and since voting can't be guaranteed to produce the desired outcome - thanks to all kinds of mitigating factors, from the Electoral College to foreign meddling - at least the bottom line for the bottom feeders is suffering.
 
Finally, here's what I wrote back to Sonali:

Dearest Sonali -
 
Thank you for a sincere and thoughtful reply.
 
My response to you, in addition to gratitude, is that where constant misinformation and propaganda are concerned, Fox News is always objectionable content. (And this is from a Canadian!) You might not think we have a "dog in this fight" but the destruction of the peaceful democracy that our massive neighbours to the south - you folks - have always displayed is being dismantled and shattered with every passing day. It breaks our hearts, as your friendly neighbours, and that's why my distinct distaste where Fox is concerned.
 
Please rethink your policy of having a news channel on. In any casino we visited in Vegas it was (predictably) all sports, but there are so many other channels from which to choose.
 
And once again, I know we're just two people - irrationally excited to see an Olive Garden after so many in Canada did not survive - but we care deeply for the democracy and the situation that is happening in your country.
 
Sincerely,
 
Erin Davis

And that's how our conversation went. Again, as I say in the letter, our comments and feelings don't amount (to quote Rick in Casablanca) to a "hill of beans" but maybe, just maybe, Sonali and other folks at this beloved restaurant chain will think twice - or even once - about what's on their TVs. Have a lovely day and I'll be back with you tomorrow.
 
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