She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She slammed her food back down on her plate. She felt sick to her stomach. “Do they just let anyone in here?”, she angrily mumbled.
Her appetite was gone. Now, she felt nothing but anger, and she was about to let everybody know exactly how she felt. She took a picture of him and stormed up to the counter. But her plan for shaming wasn’t about to completely backfire.
Luann Cofield was born and raised in Fayetteville, Georgia, but she was growing increasingly tired of her hometown. Everywhere she looked, she saw constant reminders of what she perceived as the decay and decline of the town she once loved.
As she walked to get her lunch, every little thing she saw bugged her. Everyone and everything just seemed to annoy her. But her day was about to go from bad to worse.
She walked through downtown, reminiscing on the old days. When there weren’t so many people and unfamiliar faces in her town. Now, she felt like the only real local in a pool of newcomers.
Luann was always suspicious of people which was why she preferred to live in a small, tight-knit community. She didn’t trust anyone that looked different from her. A fear that would soon turn her life upside down.
By the time Luann reached her local McDonald’s, she was ready to sit down and eat the stress away. Food always seemed to make her feel better. She ordered a Big Mac with a large soda and fries to take the edge off.
But as she took her first bite of the hamburger, she saw something out of the corner of her eye that had her slamming her food down on the tray and screaming to speak to the manager.
When Luann began to tuck into her food, she noticed what first looked like old rags strewn out across the booth’s bench opposite her. Horrified at the mess, she looked closer, already making her mind up to complain.
But when she saw what the table was obscuring, she could barely keep herself from screaming in disgust. Her stomach churned at the thought of eating in the same room as someone using it as his personal motel room!
She looked to see if anybody else was taking note of him but no one else seemed to care. Everyone was working as usual. The man was stretched out across the full length of the booth, it was impossible to miss him.
Luann couldn’t believe that everyone was turning a blind eye to him. What kind of place was this? He had completely ruined her lunch. She wondered how long had he been here and why no one kicked him out. As far as she was aware, he was a complete violation of the restaurant’s health and safety code.
Luann was enraged at the classless service. She sprung up from her seat and darted towards the cashier. The man behind the til froze when he saw her storming indignantly up to the counter, “I want to talk to the manager!” she screeched.
The livid look on her face told him she meant business, so he promptly called his boss over. Luann waited for him to appear as other customers began to take notice of the tension radiating from her body.
When the manager finally arrived, Luann complained loudly that there was someone sleeping in the booth where she had been trying to enjoy her lunch.
She told them that they need to remove him right now and that she would never eat here again if they used their space to shelter people like this. But his response sent her into a fury that would eventually get the whole world’s attention.
The manager looked over to where Luann was pointing and chuckled at the man. “Oh yeah, we know,” he said. “We won’t be moving him”. Luann was outraged. Not only was he not taking her complaint seriously, but he just laughed in her face!
“You’re going to regret this”, she thought angrily. She had never felt so disrespected before. She stormed back to the man sleeping on the bench, snapped a picture of him, and left. All she could think about was payback.
She wanted to teach them all a lesson. Luann felt like there was no class left in this place, let alone hygiene and etiquette. She was going to let the world know about this. She wanted to boycott the restaurant.
She didn’t even care if a break-in happened right there and then. She wanted the restaurant gone and she knew exactly how to get revenge. It was a move she saw carried out a number of times before. But her soon-to-be revenge plot would eventually force her to remove herself from society.
Without a second thought, Luann uploaded the photo of the sleeping man to Facebook. She had to tell the world how she’d been treated. She wanted to tarnish their reputation and destroy their business.
She sat back and waited for all the likes and comments of support for her terrible ordeal. Surely, this would cause a complete uproar. And it did, just not in the way Luann thought it would.
“Just another reason for me to leave Fayetteville!” Luann’s post read. “I was in the McDonald’s in the middle of town and I saw this guy sleeping in the booth!”.
“Their response was ‘Oh yeah, we know, hee hee. It’s OK.’ And I said, ‘Not really, but whatever.’” Then, the first comment rolled in. And another. Then hundreds more. But Luann wasn’t about to be met with the rage she expected.
She put her phone back in her pocket and continued to go to the grocery store to get some food and cook at home. She was over people and restaurants for today. But they weren’t done with her.
It wasn’t long before the messages started streaming in. But when Luann looked at them, her eyebrows knitted. What on earth was happening? Everyone was outraged, but not at the restaurant.
Luann’s rant went viral fast. But to her dismay, she was quickly informed by locals that she was way out of line.
Soon, thousands of people had seen her rash post and condemned her for it. Most of them were angry with her and decided to take matters into their own hands. But Luann fought back, asking why they cared and who exactly was the sleeping man?
Commenters immediately recognized the man as 21-year-old Simon Childs, and they were quick to point out that he’d suffered a streak of bad luck in recent months.
Simon actually worked as a fry cook at the McDonald’s, which was why the staff were aware that he was there. And there was a tragic backstory to the poor man’s situation.
It turned out that Simon was catching some sleep before his next shift started. The new father was pulling extra shifts to make the cash he needed to feed his four-month-old son.
On top of that, Simon was homeless. He just couldn’t make his meager paycheck stretch far enough to put a roof over his head. Luann had shared a photo of Simon at his lowest, and he was devastated when he found out.
“It hurt me to see my picture up there,” he said in an interview. With everything he was dealing with, including the recent loss of his mother, the last thing Simon needed was a stranger shaming him online.
However, after local news got hold of the story, both Simon and Luann were pushed into the limelight. The poor man’s public humiliation wasn’t over.
By this point, Luann had caught so much heat online that she couldn’t take it anymore. She deleted her Facebook account and tried to put it out of her mind.
Meanwhile, Simon continued to put in the hours at work. The morning after the post went viral, he arrived at the restaurant to find an unexpected sight.
“I didn’t think the community would even care enough about me to do that, but they care,” Simon said tearfully when he found the piles of diapers, formula, and other baby supplies stacked on the restaurant floor.
More support and offers of help came flooding in. Then, a couple of local chefs decided to step up to the plate… and things just snowballed from there.
Theo and Xavier Thomas own the Fayetteville restaurant Fusion Chefs Eatery. When they caught wind of Simon’s plight, they knew they needed to help in any way they could.
So they got in contact with him and explained that he had free access to their car so he could get to job interviews. And they weren’t the only ones giving Simon a leg up to a better life. But that’s not all.
A barber soon stepped in and gave Simon a fresh new haircut to improve his chances of finding a better job.
“Simon’s story just touched our hearts,” Xavier explained. This was all great news for Simon, who soon had some more lucrative job opportunities lined up, but the struggling father still didn’t have a place to stay. But not for long.
More locals donated toward hotel stays so that Simon and his child would have a safe place to sleep at night. Someone even went a step further and set up a GoFundMe account for him.
It wasn’t long before donations began to pour in. Simon was truly grateful for the chances he’d been given and has even vowed to pay it forward to help other people in his situation. And Luann?
“Everything I get, I want to work for it,” said the grateful young man. “I actually want to use everything I’m getting from this and help other homeless people.”
Luann, the disgruntled woman whose negative post had started the whole chain of positive events in Simon’s life had disappeared into the background? But how does Simon feel about her now?
Luann received aggressive backlash for her spiteful Facebook post. Thankfully, the outcome of her actions resulted in some positive changes in Simon’s life, even though her initial intentions were mean-spirited.
But it would take more than just deleting her Facebook account to make amends for humiliating him. Eventually, Luann agreed to meet Simon in person.
“I didn’t want to hurt him,” she said in an interview outside the very McDonald’s where it had all started. “I was going through a bad time in my life where I just hated everything, and I’m sorry I took it out on him”.
When Luann found out about Simon’s situation, she felt terrible. When she saw him again, she rushed to hug him. “I’m sorry. Because, you know, that horrified me. That breaks my heart for you,” she told him. Did Simon forgive her?
“I’m not homeless, not now, thanks to Luann,” he said, happily. “I’m no longer sleeping in a McDonald’s, so that’s good. I feel great.”
Then, he turned to Luann and said, “I do want to thank you. Not for the post per se, but for helping me pick my life up off the ground.” So has Luann learned her lesson?
When asked if she would act the same way again if she ever found herself in a similar situation, she replied, “Absolutely not. And I would handle it differently. Maybe talk to somebody and see what the situation is.”
As for Simon’s GoFundMe campaign, it has raised a whopping $10,000 and is still going strong. But Simon has no intention of taking advantage of the community’s generosity…
“I actually want to use everything I’m getting from this and help other homeless people,” he admitted during an interview with WSB-TV News. And, just a few weeks after his story went viral, the job offers started pouring in.
The last we heard, Simon accepted a new job in construction. The latest update on Simon’s GoFundMe page said: “Simon meets his new work team! Dressed for comfortable travel as they head out of town to the job site! Safe travels and good luck on your new adventure!” But many netizens were still outraged.
“Luann Cofield was disgusted enough to expose Simon Childs on Facebook without his knowledge,” one man wrote, “…without even bothering to ask the McDonald’s staff why they were allowing him to sleep there.”
“Sad that African American males can’t even rest between shifts at their place of employment at #McDonalds.If it was reversed, people would be outraged.”
Aside from a few angry users, the response online to Simon’s story has been mostly positive, with people around the world congratulating him on his new job and new life.
“Great story about how when the intent to shame goes the polar opposite and in a POSITIVE way!” one man wrote. Another woman added: “What she meant for evil, God meant for good. God bless you #SimonChilds and your baby!”