When reporter Clay Neely broke the news that a Waffle House waitress was terminated, it thrust Newnan into the national spotlight as outlets around the country relayed his reporting.
She gave him the story after he had spent considerable time in discussion with her since learning she had fired her personal gun in the air as three robbers were leaving from the restaurant where she worked. Solid reporting on his part brought this story to light.
A survey on times-herald.com shows opinions are divided, with 47 percent agreeing she definitely did the right thing, another 19 percent saying she probably was right but was still a little reckless since the robbers were leaving and no longer posing a threat, and the remaining 34 percent saying she exercised poor judgment.
At the same time, many commenters on the web page with the stories and in Sound Off are calling her a heroine and castigating the company for stripping her of her job. The commenters call her the type of employee any company should be proud to have, noting that she was supporting her family which includes her disabled husband and protecting her customers and coworkers because she told Neely in an emotional video he posted that she feared the robbers might return.
Others called her a danger because she could have provoked a shootout over a few hundred dollars that might have injured innocent diners.
It’s important to keep in perspective that neither Waffle House nor the waitress are the bad guys here. They’re victims. While their decisions can fairly be questioned, the true villains in this instance are the three men who threatened violence in their demands for money.
The waitress is apparently a dedicated worker whose direct supervisors were reluctant to dismiss since they knew her work habits firsthand.
At the same time, Waffle House is a good corporate citizen that not only provides jobs here and contributions to community projects but is also a supporter of conservative causes and candidates like those the waitress’ supporters agree with. It is like most companies in trying to offer a safe, family-friendly atmosphere by asking its employees not to take action that might put its customers at risk.