Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When you work in customer service, the private moments you share with your co-workers aren't necessarily those you'd share with, say, your customers.

The ways in which you talk about your customers may not be worded precisely the way you might address, say, your customers.

Which is why I'm pained to hear of a tale emerging from a Chick-fil-A in Arizona.

Daniel Graham -- aka musician Zinfandel Zaddy -- made an order of 30 nuggets and a large side of fries.

It had better be a large side of fries, I hear you jest. And I feel confident that Graham wouldn't be offended by your joke.

My confidence is stimulated by what transpired after Graham had placed his order.

He received -- mistakenly -- the takeout ticket used internally to identify customers and their order.

Upon it he was identified as: "Ugly sweater."

Would anyone find this insulting? After all, Alaska Airlines celebrates ugly sweaters. There's even a National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day.

Oh, I'm sure there might be one or two people who might find it hurtful. People without taste, perhaps.

Graham says he was amused. So amused that he posted the ticket to Twitter.

Oh, but we know what can happen when you put your thoughts into the world's cesspool of incessant ululation.

Yes, he offered this caption with the picture: 

it was NOT MY PLEASURE TO EAT CHIC [sic] FIL A TODAY.

He says he was kidding and I believe him. After all, he helpfully included a picture of the sweater and well, oh, you decide.

He tried to underline his amused feelings with a subsequent tweet

@ChickfilA i'm not mad but i am sad and i will take reparations in free chicken sandwiches.

Now, though, he'd attracted Chick-fil-A's attention (and that of the media).

And, as some may have feared, the chicken chain's reaction seems to have been draconian.

The employee was terminated. Which didn't entirely please Graham.

I called the manager of the store and talked to them asking for them to please reconsider, and explained that again, I wasn't offended in any way, I thought it was cute and fun and I had the idea to make a tweet about it, but at no point was there malicious intent.

Sadly, it didn't work.

Chick-fil-A restaurants are individually owned and operated.

Some might wonder, therefore, whether this particular employee may already have committed sins in the eyes of his bosses.

This, to them, may have been the last straw.

But even if it was, firing someone over an ugly sweater joke -- especially one that was in no way intended for the customer's eyes and ears -- may seem, at the very least, a little humorless.

For his part, Graham isn't in good humor either. He said: 

They offered me some free stuff but I told them I would rather the cashier get to keep his job than me get free stuff. The manager I spoke to was very vague and I feel like me saying that didn't even really make a difference, though I wish it had.

Naturally, I asked Chick-fil-A for its view. It declined to comment.

One can imagine, of course, that companies aren't keen to discuss personnel issues, especially when the issue might make the company look like its business suit is too tight. 

Chick-fil-A is known for excellent customer service. It's also known for what many see as its rigid stance against the LGBT community -- one that the company has recently attempted to address.

The question that hovers like yesterday's frying fat, however, is whether the employee would have been fired had the ticket not being publicized.

I'm guessing they wouldn't.

Published on: Dec 2, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.