Great news today for people who believe in the existence of a shadowy homosexual cabal trying to undermine the sanctity of America’s dining institutions through media hoaxes (trust me, they exist): The party alleged to have left a $0 tip and an offensive message for a gay server in New Jersey earlier this month have come forward to say that the widely circulated receipt was forged. The receipt in question, which read, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle & the way you live your life,” was posted on the Have a Gay Day page and quickly went viral.
Dayna Morales, the server (and an ex-marine), received an overwhelming show of support online and from people who stopped by the restaurant to donate money. Morales said the donations, which grew into thousands of dollars, would be given to the Wounded Warriors charity.
All in all, a pretty tidy story that served as a sort of Rorschach-like test for readers, either conforming to one’s preconceptions about hateful bigots in the world, the honor of military veterans, crumbling standards of civility in restaurant interactions, or almost anything you wanted it to mean. But not so fast, says a new report from NBC 4 New York, who were contacted by the dining party in question with a copy of the receipt showing they in fact left a tip, $18 on the $93.55 bill.
The couple told NBC 4 New York that they believed their receipt was used for a hoax. The wife says she is left-handed and could not have made the slash in the tip line, which she said looks to be drawn from the right.
“We’ve never not left a tip when someone gave good service, and we would never leave a note like that,” the wife said.
The husband said he and his wife have both worked in restaurants and believe in the value of tipping, and noted that he didn’t vote for Gov. Chris Christie because the governor doesn’t support gay marriage.
“Never would a message like that come from us,” he said.
Doesn’t look great for Morales’ story, although showing a copy of the receipt with a tip written in certainly doesn’t prove anything. Anyone could have done that after the fact. The couple also, however, produced a copy of their credit card bill which showed an $111.15 charge. Skeptics point out that this could have been doctored fairly easily.
Without being convinced of the veracity of either parties’ claims here, it’s not impossible that the couple are engaged in preemptive damage control. But more importantly, a quick look at the reactions online show that this story is already being used to further specific political agendas. “Another BS manufactured liberal fable,” reads one comment. “Sounds like a fraud was perpetrated on behalf of the gay lobby,” says another.
Everything as it should be here in our fractured national discourse then. People who are already inclined to believe that “liberals” overplay the nature of homophobia and bigotry have got themselves an early Christmas present, tidily wrapped up in a little package. Those of us who know, as the customer interviewed in the NBC 4 piece points out, that there’s enough intolerance in the world without having to make it up where it doesn’t exist can brush this story off as perhaps not being true, but being the truth all the same. In other words, these new counter-accusations didn’t tell us anything new, they just told us what we already wanted to know in another form.