Remember Red Lobster waitress Toni Jenkins, who was left a receipt with a horrifically racist “none n*gger” scribbled into the tip line? Though the Internet is collectively hunting for customer Devin Barnes’ head, a handwriting expert said that the insulting note wasn’t actually left by him.
Back in September, Jenkins’ story went viral for all the right reasons. You had a clear hero, a hard-working underdog waitress who was just trying to get by. You had a clear enemy, a rude customer. Then you had evidence, a receipt that showed in two words how racism is still alive, well, and hungry in America.
“This is what I got as a tip last night…so happy to live in the proud southern states..God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee,” Jenkins wrote on Facebook with an image of the receipt.
But now we’re told that a crucial piece was left out of the narrative.
Opposing Views reports that Devin Barnes, the man who supposedly wrote “none n*gger” in the tip line of the receipt, didn’t write any such thing. After receiving a deluge of accusations, Barnes consulted his attorney (who is also his pastor) to seek some advice on how to deal.
Barnes insisted that he never wrote the racist message on the receipt, but didn’t know how he could prove it. Richard Dugger, his attorney/pastor, consulted with a handwriting expert in an attempt to prove that the insult on the receipt wasn’t Barnes’ handwriting.
That expert, according to Dugger, said that the handwriting is not a match.
“There is no evidence that neither Devin Barnes nor his wife wrote that hideous statement on the line total, which means that someone else did,” Dugger said.
Of course, said handwriting expert has not come forward his/herself, and you could make the argument that consulting your lawyer, who is also your pastor, in an effort to clear your name might represent some existential conflicts of interest. But it’s still worth noting that Barnes’ story conflicts with the original narrative in a handful of ways.
For one, he described Jenkins as “polite” and “cheerful,” and made no accusations against her whatsoever. He said that he’s not interested in pointing fingers, he just wants to set the record straight: He didn’t write it.
He also admitted that he did not leave her a tip, and said that he left the line blank.
Jenkins, for her part, has not made a nemesis of Barnes either. In a recent interview with Nashville news station WSMV, she said that she merely shared the receipt to make a point about racism, and that she wasn’t looking to draw attention to herself or to Barnes.
Still, her story has earned her widespread support, with an online crowd-funding effort having raised $10,000 for her.
We’ll probably never know who wrote the racist message on the receipt, but some amateur detectives have passed samples of Barnes’ writing around on the Internet. You can check out one such sample below, along with an image of the Red Lobster receipt.