FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - A Middle Tennessee waitress who received a racial slur instead of a tip said she considers the whole thing a blessing.
Toni Jenkins wants to become a nurse and took a job at Red Lobster to save money. But when her story about that racial slur caught the attention of people around the world, she could never have imagined what would happen next.
“It’s been a roller coaster for me and my family,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins waitresses at a Red Lobster in Cool Springs. A few weeks ago, when someone wrote the N-word on a ticket at her table, she went public to press the issue.
“I’m thankful for the people around me who told me to take a stand and attempt to make a difference,” she said.
Her decision brought criticism.
Some suspected she faked it, especially when the customer – through his attorney – denied writing the slur.
In a written message to Channel 4 News, the customer said, “I do not approve of the use of that type of talk, not now or ever.”
When the story went viral, a man in California took action and posted the details on the website YouCaring.com.
People donated to the fund called “Tips for Toni.”
And late last week, Jenkins received a check for more than $10,000.
“The first thing that came to me was, ‘God just bought my car.’ So, and that’s exactly what I did with it. I paid some loans back at school. I got me a great, reliable car. And I’m overjoyed and blessed,” she said.
Red Lobster investigated the racial slur and suspended Jenkins for a few days, because the waitress broke policy when she posted a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page.
Given the outcome, though, for the message – and what she considers the blessing – Jenkins said it was worth it.
“Words cannot go forth on how thankful, how genuine and how blessed I feel that those people had a heart to give to me when they didn’t even know me,” Jenkins said.
The customer hired an attorney in Shelbyville who also happens to be his family pastor.
A few weeks ago, the attorney said he would hire a handwriting expert, partly to prove his client didn’t write the slur.
Calls to the attorney for an update Thursday have not been returned.
And although she was able to buy a car, Jenkins said she plans to keep her job at Red Lobster. After all, she said, it’s currently “Crab Fest,” and she needs the gas money.