February 24, 2014
Let’s cut right to the chase, the title says it all. Mike Cummings, the owner of McNally’s (11136 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL) and a Chicago Police Officer, in a drunken rant had the audacity to openly state, “there are too many black people in here” referring to Sunday (Feb. 23, 2014) morning at approximately 12:03am.
Have you ever walked into a room and knew that all eyes were on you? Well, I have experienced that many times in my life. As a young black well-educated, professional male, I have seen my share of uncomfortable situations; however, Saturday, February 22, 2014 is definitely one that will be remembered. I have been in Catholic school most of my life and an active participant in the performing arts. As a result, I have experienced being one of few blacks in a group. This is why I was comfortable agreeing to be the only black member of a band of great musicians. It was the music that drew us together and therefore we all agreed that race would not be an issue. This changed dramatically for all parties involved when we booked a gig at McNally’s.
“Reprieve Blues Band” is a new and exciting Chicago Blues Band. The McNally’s booking marked only my second engagement with the band. Understandably, I invited family, friends and members of various organizations with which I am affiliated to come support me, hear some great music, and have a good time. The other members of the band did the same. We were scheduled for a 10pm-1am block. The place was already full by 9:15pm. By 10:30, the place was packed. People of all social, economic and racial classes were shoulder-to-shoulder enjoying a cold cocktail and live music. Just after midnight we finished our second of three sets. It was during this break that I was informed that we would be packing up and going home. The owner, who was visibly inebriated at the bar, explained that he was shutting down our performance because there were “too many black people” in the bar. He handed over our compensation and made it clear that he was shutting it down.
There are so many things inherently wrong in this story. First, a member of the Chicago Police Department (Michael Cummings, McNally’s owner) spread this hatred. It is offensive that this type of blatant bigotry is still on display in 2014. It is offensive that a business owner would be visibly inebriated and insulting paying customers while the doors of his business are still open. It is offensive that such disrespect would be shown to the band that filled the establishment with paying customers on a Saturday night, this further demonstrates Michael Cummings’ hubris. Notwithstanding these offenses, it is most offensive that some people would pretend that this is an isolated issue that does not demand attention. This owner thought there were too many black people in his bar. This same owner has been charged with the duty to serve and protect ALL people. It is clear that these type of people do not deserve the honor to serve this city or this country. Where does this bigotry end if we do not stand up and demand what is right for ALL people? How can we sit back or do nothing? What happened to me Saturday night could happen to you or someone you love. Telling black people not to support this establishment is exactly what he wants so we have to do one better. We have to spread the word and pass this message along to everyone we know. We have to expose Mike Cummings for the racist he is and let everyone know what McNally’s is really about. Will you be part of the problem or the solution?
President Obama on Friday, July 19, 2013 gave a very personal perspective of the shooting of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman. In it he offers an explanation for why the case has created so much anxiety within the African-American community.
I am a business owner and long-time Dominick’s shopper. Having spent a lot of money with your company over the years, I am very disappointed to share my latest interaction with your brand. On March 26, 2013 my wife and I were in Northbrook for a mini-vacation. We stopped into Dominick’s Store #1719 located at 1340 Patriot Rd, Glenview, IL 60025 where Mr. Mike Trimarco is the manager. I am pleased to inform you that the store was incredibly clean and organized and that my experience in the store was quite pleasant until I arrived at the checkout line.
We waited briefly in the express line with only ten items. Our cashier’s name was Vita. After being amiable with the preceding customer, Vita asked if we were reward members prior to saying hello. My wife and I were excited about our vacation and therefore ignored the lack of friendly service that we have come to expect at Dominicks. My wife hands our rewards card to Vita, who scans it and then places it on the counter without saying anything or acknowledging how inappropriate this gesture was. While scanning our items, she began a conversation with the male bagger whose name I do not remember. Already offended by this rude behavior, we waited patiently for our total. Vita announced our total and then proceeded with her conversation with the bagger. I must pause to inform you that our items were properly placed in bags and doubled where necessary. However, when our checkout was complete, our bags were in front of the bagger, who was leaning on the register enjoying a conversation with Vita as if we were not standing there. I had to reach in front of him to grab my bags once it became clear that he was not going to hand them to us or move to make it easier for us to grab them ourselves.
One school of thought is that this issue was isolated and was the result of two people that chose not to uphold Dominick’s commitment to family, food, value and fun. Maybe they do not understand or agree with their focus on giving “primary attention to the needs of shoppers partnered with the highest standards for all of its merchandise.” Another school of thought is that the poor service we received was racially motivated and the result only of the color of our skin. Either way, this behavior is unacceptable. This formal complaint solicits an apology and disciplinary actions. I am sure that the Dominick’s brand does not accept or agree with this customer treatment and I am hopeful that a resolution can be reached. I am a blogger, doctoral student and business owner. I do not believe that I deserve great service as a result of those facts. I believe that I deserve great service as a result of the fact that I am spending my hard earned dollars with your brand. I further believe that we all deserve this same quality of service and life here in America based on the fact that we are American and not based on what color we are. On one side of the argument is the hesitation make this matter a race issue. People would accuse me and others like me of “playing the race card”. What I think is important is that we as a society come to terms with the fact that racial issues persist. When we accept this fact then we can have a REAL conversation about it. Until then we are living in the matrix and not dealing with the heart of the problem.
I sent a letter to the company explaining my experience and I look forward to hearing from them and resolving this matter amicably and expeditiously. I would like to ask you if you would be offended in this situation and if you agree with the decision to address the matter with the Dominick’s brand. What do you think?
I had an experience with People’s Gas that I thought was worth sharing because it has happened to so many people. People write blog posts for many different reasons. I want to be explicit about my purpose for this one. I firmly believe that my experience with People’s Gas is one that many American consumers have experienced before and NO American citizens should experience again. I am writing this posting to encourage the kind of outrage that initiates change. Customer service should not be an option in any company, especially one that provides consumers with a necessary service. Handling an issue with this service should not be an arduous task and we must demand this truth.
I recently moved into a new apartment. My wife and I had all of our utility and service accounts setup a month prior to our move in date. Everything was set for the perfect move in. You all already know that this is a fantasy but we did the best we could do to get as close to a seamless move as possible. As the weeks flew by the bills flew in. However, we noticed that there was no gas bill. We reached out to insure that all was well and they promised that it was on the way. Noting this fact we waited for it. Last week, I woke up, took my wife to work and returned home to fix myself some breakfast prior to heading to work myself. I noticed that my stove did not work. After multiple tries I checked my furnace to see if the pilot was out. Faintly smelling gas I called the emergency hotline. Better safe than sorry when dealing with a gas issue. After giving my information, the emergency customer service person told me that my account was not properly set up and that my gas had been turned off the previous day. He could not transfer me to the regular customer service department so I had to sit out side for an hour waiting on them to come check for a leak or other emergency while waiting on hold to speak to another service agent. After about a twenty minute wait on the phone I was told that our online application had not properly processed and we needed to fax them some proof that we were the new tenants in the unit. (Mind you we were not told this when we spoke with them the previous month.)
That same day, I faxed over all of the documents they requested. I called back to confirm that they received my documents and I was on hold for over 30 minutes having never spoken to a human agent. I admit my frustration hearing, “Your call is very important to us… Please keeping holding”. It did not feel that way as I waited for over an hour and still spoke to no one. I asked my wife to call later as my frustration grew. When she finally got through, she was told that they sent us a notification, which we NEVER received, and that processing the fax would take at least 24 hours and that she should call back then. (WOW!) We called back the next day to be told that the paper needed to be verified, which would take another 24 hours and then they would send a technician, which would be 3 – 5 business days. My wife explained that we both had health issues that required this to be escalated to more of an emergency status. My wife was told that they would “do their best”. Not satisfied with this response, my wife called back asking for a manager. It was on a Friday and the manager told her that Wednesday was the earliest she could do anything. At this time a coworker gave some stunning advice.
We were advised to call 311 (the none emergency police line) and explain our situation. I had never heard of this method but my wife gave it a shot. They listened to our situation and then they called People’s Gas themselves with her on the line to give any important information. MAGICALLY, People’s Gas was now available first thing on Monday morning to reactivate our service. I took issue with the fact that customer service departments are in place to provide service to customers. Why does People’s Gas get to outsource real customer service to the police department? Why do we have to call the none emergency hotline and tell the exact same story to get a completely different result? From this I say to the world, we must demand better of these huge companies that are clearly too big to care about the customers that have unwillingly made them so big. If they cannot make changes themselves then we must demand it. We must write them, we must tweet, Facebook, blog or simply shout it from the mountain top. We must let them know we are not happy. If they do not help you then you know that you too can call 311 and they will. I guarantee that the police will tier of doing customer service work for People’s Gas and THEY will demand a change. Either way, People’s Gas should be about the people and it won’t be if we stay quiet. Comment and tell me your troublesome story with People’s Gas and share this story with someone you know that may be having trouble with them now. There is an answer to the number 311 even when 866-556-6001 doesn’t work. They don’t want to wait on their payment but they expect us to wait on good service. Time for a change!