Update: The Food Kitchen in Newport Beach, where this incident took place, has informed the Huffington Post that the receipt in question was (fortunately) altered and is not authentic. While this certainly changes the story of Occupy Wall Street forcing a banker to reveal his true sentiments, what remains is this: the emotional and viral response such expressions are now having in our society.Since September of last year, Occupy Wall Street has boasted significant victories, from shifting the public discourse on income inequality to sparking the Obama administration's current Wall Street probe.
Another, oft-ignored victory (or, at the very least, result) of Occupy Wall Street's many successes is the way in which the one percent's unbridled greed and disdain for working Americans has been exposed in stark and transparent ways.
This is a victory not because exposing such greed is revelatory – we all intellectually know that many who control our country's purse strings in the financial and political sectors intend to serve only their own interests.
No, this is a victory because such greed is often concealed. We know it's there – we just don't often get to see behind the curtain and witness it in palpable, emotionally evocative ways. Numbers and statistics don't often change public opinion, as compelling as they may be, as much as the views that stand behind such statistics.
Which is why, when a banker – unnerved by Occupy Wall Street – reveals in a moment of weakness his or her true feelings, reveals the emotions behind the numbers, such a revelation is not only powerfully telling, but it is a victory for those wishing to expose what truly ails us.
And this is what has happened, represented in the image (below) that has gone viral, an image of a banker's lunch bill:who he describes in this way:
Mention the “99%” in my boss’ presence and feel his wrath. So proudly does he wear his 1% badge of honor that he tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server doesn’t sufficiently bow down to his Holiness. Oh, and he always makes sure to include a “tip” of his own.The image, and this story, has gone viral not because such views and such greed is new. This is not a significant cultural moment because we, as a society, are unaware that there are those controlling our nation's wealth who feel this way.
No, this has gone viral because this image and moment reveal in stark relief such horrible ethics and greed in a way that touches our emotional cores, in a way that transcends numbers and figures – transcends our logic – and instead punches us in the gut.
And this collective punch to the gut is a victory for Occupy Wall Street, it is a victory for a movement that seeks to correct the greed and corrupting influences that have poisoned our politics and financial institutions.
The one percent are losing their ability to hide their disdain for average Americans. They are losing the ability to hide. We now see them clearly.
For Occupy Wall Street, this is one thing: another victory.
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According to the Huffington Post, which spoke with the restaurant owner at the establishment where this incident took place, the receipt is viewed as authentic and is being investigated:In a conversation with the Huffington Post, Mike Wilcox, the vice president of operations for True Food Kitchen, gave some insight into how the company was treating the incident since the receipt began receiving attention online. Wilcox said that the restaurant was "absolutely" treating the receipt as real, but to confirm its authenticity for certain, they were in the process of tracking down both the physical receipt at the restaurant and the computer-generated copy in their credit card system.
"The first thing we're going to do is to make sure the server is taken care of," Wilcox said, "and make sure the server wasn't treated badly or insufficiently tipped." He explained that they would be asking Breanna, the server named on the receipt, if she recalled the table and how her service was. "If her service was up to the level" they assume their employees would deliver, Wilcox said, "they would do everything they can to make it up to her somehow." Referring to online comments posted about the receipt, Wilcox remarked, "people are asking us to ban the person from the restaurant -- if more information came through on who the person is I first would love to talk to him."