She thought that all of the pairs of staring eyes would discourage the owner and get him to snap out of it.
But as the crowd grew bigger and bigger and so did the shouting, it dawned on her that her plan had backfired. She was left with an ultimatum.
Florida might be the state of chaotic weather and retirement communities, but to Kim Jeffers it was home.
It wasn’t just her pristine lawn and nearby beaches that made her happy. The seafood was endless and utterly to die for. There wasn’t a clam bar or lobster shack she hadn’t tried. She also prided herself on the long string of reviews she left behind. But soon, expressing her opinions would come back to bite her.
It was a sweltering Saturday afternoon, and her cravings were already in overdrive.
She piled her three kids into the minivan and made a beeline to Barnacle Bill’s – a local seafood restaurant that had some of the best oysters she had ever tasted. It also had a fun cowboy theme. The kids were also salivating over the thought of fish and chips. But when she turned into the parking lot, a new sign caught her eye.
Kim took in the words, and her cravings immediately vanished.
Every letter across the looming marquee made her blood boil. How in the world did the owner think this was okay?! She brought her van to a halt as her mouth hung wide open. After the initial shock subsided, outrage burned through her body. She turned the van around and drove off.
She wasn’t going to eat at a place like that. With the kids hungry, she drove to the next nearest restaurant. She tried to forget about the sign and enjoy her meal but the fury stayed with her through the entire sitting.
She couldn’t just ignore something like that. It was so blatantly audacious and despicable. She just knew she had to do something about it. And she did.
After they ate, she drove straight back to Barnacle Bill’s. She was a woman on a mission.
She whipped out her phone, took plenty of pictures and even a video with her personal commentary. The next step was to plaster what she captured across as many social media platforms as possible. She wanted everyone to know about this. Little did she know, they’d go viral for all the wrong reasons.
She was still fuming as she uploaded the pictures and images to social media. She wrote an angry post explaining the images and tagged anyone and everyone she knew.
She asked them to share her post, hoping to spread her message and the restaurant’s deplorable behavior wide and far. But things were about to take an ugly turn.
Kim let the posts marinate, feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment with how many likes and comments they generated. She had touched on something that outraged a lot of people.
It grew to enough ammunition that she felt comfortable confronting the owner directly and demanding the sign be taken down. She walked into the restaurant with her head held high. It was about to go down.
Kim barged through the doors and spotted the owner straight away. He stood behind the bar. She immediately cornered him and pulled out her phone, presenting the evidence of his offense.
She pulled up the pictures and the post she uploaded to her social media account. She shoved it in his face without a word. His eyes narrowed and his lips drew into a thin frown.
“I want that sign taken down immediately and this entire community agrees with me”, she spat. “Not only is your sign wrong and offensive, it’s entirely inappropriate”.
The adage “the customer is always right” should have been enough, but he looked her right in the eyes and said “No. The sign stays up. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else.”
Kim’s blood boiled hotter than the sweltering Florida summer.
Despite the clear evidence that people didn’t like his billboard sentiments, he was going to keep it up. “Fine”, she said. It was time to play hardball. “You’ll regret this”, Kim said before she turned around and stormed out. If she was furious before, now she was the embodiment of lava.
Kim kicked up dirt as she stomped towards her van. Her mind raced with how she could teach this audacious owner a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget.
As she drove home, a smile started to form on the corner of her mouth. She looked at her now-viral social media post. It had attracted even more likes and comments since she last saw it. An idea crept into her mind.
She looked at all the people who had engaged with her post. It had obviously generated a lot of attention. Attention which she planned to use to her advantage.
She decided to organize a protest. She reached out to all of the people that had interacted with her post and created an event online. She gave the exact address and time for them to provide their support – or so she thought.
Twenty people appeared at the restaurant the next day with signs and shirts, ready to stand outside and shout until the offensive sign came down.
Kim was thrilled with the turnout but she knew way more people had declared their attendance online. She waited in eager anticipation for a bigger crowd to gather, chanting her words and acting on her behalf. She was in for a sore awakening!
As her small group paced the sidewalk and chanted their demands, people stopped and took photos.
Kim was delighted. It was going exactly as planned. This would get everyone’s attention and lend more power to their cause. She marched around with her group, holding a sign of her own. Little did she know, someone was watching her.
Kim kept her eye close to the restaurant windows, hoping the owner would run out and finally take the sign down and offer his sincerest apologies.
However, so far, the owner kept the sign up. They had been protesting for two whole hours, and he never approached her. Then Kim saw something that made her jaw drop.
Suddenly, a stream of cars began to flood into the parking lot. They honked and shouted. Kim waved at them in complete shock. She knew to expect more people but she had not foreseen that this many people would come flocking in.
She couldn’t believe that this many people cared as much as she did about this sign. What she didn’t understand however was that they weren’t there for her.
The line of cars seemed endless. They honked and shouted.
At first, she swelled with excitement, thinking she had more protesters. However, when she saw the red shirts, and the massive group took position on the other side of the restaurant, it finally clicked. Her face dropped as she realized what on earth was going on.
Kim’s smile was quickly replaced by embarrassment, shock and terror. These people weren’t there for her. At least fifty people stood on the opposite side of the road.
This new group was there to show support for the owner! They actually agreed with his message?! Kim was completely blindsided. They were making her completely gatecrashing her protest – but they were invited.
With rising anger, Kim realized these people accepted the invitation to the protest through her online event. She went online again and paid more attention to the string of comments that accumulated under her post.
She froze as she realized the majority of people opposed her opinion. She shoved her phone in her pocket and looked up at the sign. What did it say?
Kim stared at the marquee, seething with rage.
The three lines of text were like a slap in the face. The first told everyone he was a member of a firearms group. The second say it was okay to conceal and carry in his restaurant! The final was a push for people to vote for a certain, deplorable candidate.
The opposition held their stance and yelled at the top of their lungs.
What made it worse as that even more people were filing into the restaurant to eat. Somehow, Kim’s mission had not only kept the signs up, but given the owner more profit as well! She now had an impossible choice.
Every part of her wanted to stay there and show she wasn’t going to give up that easy.
However, after a couple days, and watching her side get smaller and small, she knew that a single person standing on the sidewalk wasn’t going to bring about any change. Begrudgingly, she went home. But she still had an effective Plan B.
She was going to fight fire with fire.
Kim poured over her past reviews and found a couple places that held views more inline with hers. She posted their information online and encourage everyone to take their business there.
The Florida summer was still heavy on everyone’s shoulders.
But now, she was sitting in a place she knew was safe for her children. The owner was right – she should take her businesses elsewhere. She would never step foot in Barnacle Bills again.