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Sue Ontiveros: Who says low-paid workers don’t do jobs well?

When will we learn that everything we do is caught on camera and can be shared with the world?


You’d think a TV reporter of all people would realize that. But apparently ESPN’s Britt McHenry didn’t give a hoot that she was being recorded when she went off on the employee of a towing company.

But maybe she cares now that she’s the star of the viral video of the moment, one that’s resulted in a one-week suspension from her high-profile job.

If you’ve somehow missed the video first posted by LiveLeak, McHenry is at the counter of a Virginia towing company. (Was her car towed? That’s never made clear.) She’s pretty honked off about something.

We see her chew out the woman (who warns McHenry she will “play her video, so careful”) for almost a minute, telling the worker, “I’m on television and you’re in a f****** trailer, honey.” There’s all your typical entitled bully behavior, where she knocks the woman’s assumed lack of education, skills and teeth, ending with the comment, “Lose some weight, baby girl.”

Not surprisingly once the video was released, it was clicked on like crazy (the original clip was at 1.2 million views last I looked). Also not surprisingly, McHenry released an apology where she said, in part, “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things.” (She did not include the line these very-public apologies always forget: “Someone’s making me do this!”)

Meanwhile, the towing company stepped in and released its own statement to the Wrap, saying its business is “contentious by nature,” and it doesn’t want McHenry to lose her job.

So many got on social media to say how shocked they were to see someone treating a worker so badly. That makes me have to say, wait a minute, folks. I think it’s time to listen to the way too many of us treat others, particularly those we decide don’t measure up to us employment-wise, before we get on our collective, self-righteous high horse.

There was a time when we thought highly of people doing their jobs, whatever it was. Not anymore. Look at the dim view we now have of teachers, a profession that was once so revered.

The lower a job’s pay, the more likely we are to think that person doesn’t care about doing quality work and that their employment has lesser value. Whether fast food, convenience store or tow company workers, we think they do a crummy job. It’s as if they are suspect for being in a low-paying job.

We take out our ire with the company’s policies — as if this person making minimum wage determined it — on those who are the public face of these businesses. I recently overheard a guy ream a waitress over “the presentation” of the meal he ordered. As if the poor woman who he eventually stiffed had been the one plating his food.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say one of the reasons companies have been able to keep wages stagnant is we’ve all bought into the notion that no one (except ourselves, of course) does a decent job anymore. Who would expect us to stand up for other workers?

The difference between the rest of us and Britt McHenry? She got caught showing the too-common belief her job title makes her better than someone else.

Email: sueontiveros.cst@gmail.com

Twitter: @sueontiveros