An interracial couple from Georgia were shocked to find a racial slur written on their valet ticket after their New Year’s Eve night out in East Point, Ga. According to ABC News on Saturday, the couple found that the valet tag still affixed to their key chain had the phrase "jungle fever" written on it.
Sam Aarons, a U.S. Army sergeant major who recently returned from Kuwait, and his wife Candea Aarons started their new year with a sad reminder that racism still exists, turning their celebratory meal into a night to forget.
Candea Aaron spoke of their visit on December 31 to Spondivits restaurant, where the pair had dined at many times before and had used the valet service.
“I've never had their [valet] tag left on the key,” said Candea. “He wanted us to see it.”
Sam echoed his wife’s feelings.
“I was upset, but more disappointed. More disappointed that this is 2014 and we still have individuals out there who still have these beliefs,” Sam said, adding that the valet, who was also an African American, gave them “good service.”
“I was really pleased with the service,” Sam said. “I gave him a good tip, and then we left."
“Jungle fever” is a slang term, considered offensive, that is often used in a derogatory way to describe interracial relationships. Sam is white. His wife Candea is black.
While it may be a common practice for valets or waiters to jot down small phrases to aid in remembering someone, clearly the use of an offensive term is dangerous, despite the fact the restaurant does not believe the valet purposely left the ticket on the key chain.
“This valet wrote an unacceptable description on this customer's ticket, but it was not him trying to send a racist message to the customers,” wrote Spondivits' chef and overseer Glenn Gagne on Facebook. “He just has poor taste and this cost him his job.”
Spondivits contracts with APS Valet to run their valet service. According to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, the owner of APS Valet confirmed the valet was fired.
“APS does not tolerate racism of any kind whatsoever,” said a statement released from APS.
Shortly after the incident occurred, APS apologized and informed the Aarons that the valet would be fired, and even offered to comp their next meal at the restaurant.
Candea turned down the offer, and said she was bothered that Spondivits had not offered a further apology for the valet's actions. While not minimizing the insult, it unfortunately appears the Aarons are now taking the case too far. Although a man has lost his job, Candea thinks it is not enough and the couple are now seeking the aid of attorneys.