A Georgia couple was shocked and disgusted to find a racial slur scrawled on a valet ticket after a night out at a local restaurant.
After Candea and Sam Aarons had dinner at the Spondivits restaurant in East Point, Ga., on New Year's Day, they found that the valet tag still affixed to their key chain had the phrase "jungle fever" written on one side.
The phrase is a racial slur for an interracial couple.
Candea Aaron said she initially didn't notice anything unusual in their interaction with the valet, but in previous visits the tag was always removed from their key before they received it back.
"I've never had their [valet] tag left on the key," said Aaron. "He wanted us to see it."
Aaron and her husband, a military veteran who had recently returned from Kuwait, immediately contacted the restaurant and valet company.
"It was the shock of it all, it was so upsetting to us," said Aaron.
The Spondivits restaurant contracts with APS Valet to run their valet service. Aaron said she was told by the owner of APS that the valet responsible would immediately be fired and was offered a gift certificate for dinner, which she turned down.
According to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, the owner of APS Valet confirmed that the valet in question no longer worked at the company and that "APS does not tolerate racism of any kind whatsoever."
Aaron said she was bothered that the Spondivits' restaurant had not offered a further apology for the valet's actions.
An unidentified restaurant employee at the Spondivits' restaurant declined to comment to ABCNews.com about the incident.
In a pointed statement posted on Facebook, Spondivits' chef and overseer Glenn Gagne said that the restaurant has "no tolerance for racism" and would not talk to news outlets about the case.
"Spondivits will not tolerate racial speak by employees or customers on our property. We are known for our racial diversity," wrote Gagne.
Gagne pointed out that the valet was fired within hours of the incident. But he disputes the slur was intentionally left to insult the couple, pointing out that many valets write descriptive details about customers, such as "leather jacket or white beard," to help them remember a car's owner.
"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 Gagne. "He just has poor taste and this cost him his job."
Aaron said by bringing media attention to the incident she wanted to send a message that racism would not be tolerated in any form.
"You can't just do things or say things people and think there are no repercussions behind it," said Aaron.
- Society & Culture