After A Woman Shamed A Homeless Employee Online, Locals Took Matters Into Their Own Hands

When Luann Cofield saw a homeless man sleeping in a booth at a local McDonald’s, the sight caused her offense. And when staff refused to remove him, she instead aired her grievances on social media. What she did shamed the man. But, as a result, the community dealt with the problem themselves.

Cofield had stopped by a local McDonald’s when she saw something in the restaurant that she hadn’t expected. At a booth nearby, she spotted a man laid out and asleep on the bench. Taken aback by what she could see, she walked up to the fast food joint’s staff to tell them.

When Cofield told the restaurant’s staff about the man asleep in one of their booths, however, she perhaps didn’t get the response she expected. Indeed, the McDonald’s workers didn’t seem interested in what was happening at all. They brushed it off, and went about their business as if it was no big deal.

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Nevertheless, to Cofield, seeing a man sleeping in the restaurant was a big deal. And when staff dismissed her complaints she found another means to express her displeasure. She, in fact, took a photo of the man dozing in the booth and posted it to social media. But she didn’t expect what happened next.

Cofield’s photo of the man asleep in the McDonald’s booth started to circulate around locals. And then the image sparked a surprising reaction among residents. Indeed, it seems that she wasn’t the only person shocked by the situation. So the surrounding community decided to take matters into their own hands.

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Luann Cofield lived in Fayetteville, Georgia when she stopped in a local McDonald’s. Around 20 miles south of Atlanta, the settlement was first established in 1823, growing to a city in 1888. Though it has grown considerably from its jail and courthouse roots, Fayetteville remains a quaint place with its history still visible in its architecture.

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Fayetteville survived the ravages of civil war in the 1860s and continued to grow throughout the 1900s. As such, the city has a motto honoring both its past and continued growth: “A History With A Future.” Today, its population stands at around 17,000, with roughly 55 per cent white and a third identifying as African-American.

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According to the most recent census, more than half Fayetteville’s population is aged under 45, with an average age of around 40. The latest community survey found an average household income of around $62,000, and $81,600 per family. However, it also revealed that nearly nine per cent of the city’s population were living in poverty.

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Not everyone, then, can afford life’s luxuries. And when Colfield, a Fayetteville local, stopped by a neighborhood McDonald’s in June 2019, it was an experience she counted as “just another reason to leave” the area. That day, her dining experience was tarnished by an unexpected sight and she wasn’t lovin’ it.

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Indeed, when Cofield sat at a table ready to eat, she was taken aback by what was in front of her across the restaurant. She, in fact, saw what appeared to be a man asleep in a nearby booth. The fast-food customer was so shocked by the sight that she raised the issue with the staff on duty.

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Cofield then approached staff to raise her concerns. It is, after all, not the type of thing you expect to see when sitting down to eat. So it’s perhaps understandable that she would want to bring it up to management. But when she told them about the man asleep in their restaurant she probably wasn’t ready for their response.

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Indeed, the staff reaction to a man asleep in a booth at their restaurant didn’t align with Cofield’s feelings on the matter. While her shock was enough to raise a complaint, the staff, however, seemed to brush it off as no big deal. Their response, in fact, was seemingly ambivalent.

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Clearly more concerned about the situation than McDonald’s staff were, Cofield, then adopted another method to express her displeasure. As may be typical in the digital age, she sought immediate solidarity from social media. The fast-food customer took a photo of the man asleep in the booth and posted it to a closed Facebook group.

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With the photo, Cofield wrote the following post explaining what she had seen. She said, “Just another reason for me to leave Fayetteville. I was in the McDonald’s in the middle of town and I saw this guy sleeping in the booth.” The disappointed customer then went on to describe what she did next.

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Cofield continued, “I [went to] tell an employee that someone is asleep in their booth and her response was, ‘Oh yeah, we know, hee hee. It’s okay.’ And I said, ‘Not really, but whatever.’” In fact, she felt so incensed by the situation that the disappointed customer finished the post with an angry emoticon.

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Now, it’s often said that the camera never lies. However, the camera doesn’t always show the full picture, either. There was more to the situation, in fact, than even Cofield was aware of. And when her photo of the man asleep in McDonald’s began to circulate on Facebook, something unexpected happened among Fayetteville locals.

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As it happened, the man asleep in the booth was Simon Childs. A 21-year-old McDonald’s employee, he was taking a break between the shifts he was working at the fast food chain. But beyond merely resting before he got back to work, there was more to his situation than first appeared.

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Childs was, in fact, homeless. It’s likely that his pay from the restaurant didn’t stretch to cover rent for a place of his own. Furthermore, his personal circumstances had changed dramatically in recent months. And the changes had been so seismic that they had a huge impact on his finances and the support available.

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Indeed, Childs had recently become a father. So the financial strain of having a young son to care for quickly took its toll on his bank balance. Unable to cope with the burden on his wages, he was forced into the desperate situation of catching whatever sleep he could while at work.

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However, Childs’ situation was made all the worse by another major event that happened in his life. As well as becoming a father, the McDonald’s employee had also recently lost his mom. With the emotional devastation of that and the financial strain of raising a young son, then, he hit a low point in his life.

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“I’ve been going through a hard time with my mom passing,” Childs told Atlanta’s WSB-TV News in June 2019. Indeed, it’s hard for most people to lose their mom. Indeed, for a young father with a newborn son, he hadn’t only lost his mother, but also a source of support and advice at this pivotal time.

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With the struggles Childs faced, the last thing he needed was someone shaming him online. So what Cofield had done by sharing the image of him sleeping at work only added to his stress. “It hurt me to see my picture up there,” he said during the interview. Indeed, the negativity was likely the last thing he needed.

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However, Childs didn’t expect to hear any more from it. He added, “I thought it was something negative and nobody would care about it.” The image had been shared, then, and the young father wasn’t happy with the situation. Nevertheless, he didn’t think it was a big enough deal to impact his life any further. But he was wrong.

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Indeed, when the Facebook post circulated around locals, they decided to take matters into their own hands. The sight of a homeless man sleeping in her local McDonald’s had angered Cofield. And, as it happened, it was a situation no one else would tolerate either. So the community did something about it.

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Days after Cofield aired her grievances on Facebook, Childs arrived at work to an unexpected sight. Piles of diapers, clothes and other childcare supplies were donated to help him look after his son. Indeed, when locals learned what had happened to the young father in recent months, they wanted to help.

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“I didn’t think the community would even care enough to do that, but they care,” Childs explained to WSB-TV News. For the young father, though, it was more than just a few diapers and supplies. The help he received from around town then escalated. In fact, he admitted, “They changed my life in a couple of days.”

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Indeed, when a couple of local chefs stepped up to the plate, Childs suddenly had access to a set of wheels. Theo and Xavier Thomas are owners of local restaurant Fusion Chefs Eatery. When they learned of the young father’s situation, they offered him use of a car to get to job interviews.

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“[Childs’ story] just touched our hearts,” Xavier told WSB-TV News of their reaction when they heard his plight. With their own restaurant up and running, the brothers were now in a position where they could pay it forward. “[The car] definitely will help him get around and give him a better opportunity,” Theo added.

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Furthermore, a barber reached then out to offer Childs a haircut. So with a fresh new cut, his chances of scoring better paid employment continued to increase. The job offers soon came rolling in, too, giving the young father plenty of opportunities to show off his new look and hardworking attitude.

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Indeed, Childs hasn’t taken the community’s generosity for granted. “Everything I do I want to work for it,” he told WSB-TV News. With brand new threads and a fresh new look, he was ready to start a new job in July. And yet, humbled by his neighbors’ generosity, the young dad felt inspired.

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Childs appreciates how far his luck has turned around. Indeed, the community was so generous that the young father no longer needed to sleep at McDonald’s. Indeed, locals’ donated toward hotel rooms for him and his son, with one taking a step further and offering a room until he got a place of his own.

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However, with a GoFundMe set up for Childs, he 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 the interview with WSB-TV News. And where he once felt hurt by Cofield’s Facebook shaming, he now held no bad feelings towards her.

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Moreover, Cofield met with Childs in order to apologize to him. But as he said, “I’m no longer sleeping in a McDonald’s, so that’s good. I feel great.” And even the Facebook user who drew so much attention to his predicament had a change of heart. Indeed, the angry fast-food customer, who was unaware of his situation, now has sympathy.

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“I didn’t want to hurt [Childs],” Cofield told WSB-TV News of her Facebook post. Although she had seemingly been annoyed at the situation when she dined in McDonald’s that day, she hadn’t wanted to start a backlash against the young man. In fact, she was devastated once his situation became clear.

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The pair later met outside the very restaurant Childs had been working in. They even hugged when they greeted each other. Cofield told him, “I’m sorry. Because, you know, that horrified me. That breaks my heart for you.” However, the young father knows he’s in a better place now because of her.

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“I’m not homeless, not now, thanks to [Cofield],” Childs explained during the interview. Indeed, with a new job, new wardrobe and a roof over his head, albeit a temporary one, the young dad is now far better equipped to care for his young son. The situation for the once-disappointed customer, however, took an unwanted turn.

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Indeed, the Facebook backlash that Cofield received for posting the image of Childs asleep in McDonald’s meant she had to delete her account. The young father himself, however, holds no ill feeling about the situation. In fact, he’s only taken positives from it, with the hurt he initially felt at the Facebook post now gone.

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“I do want to thank you,” Childs said to Cofield. “Not for the post per se, but for helping me pick my life up off the ground.” Indeed, the once-disappointed customer herself was not above becoming a better person from the experience. She, in fact, learned a valuable lesson as a result of her actions.

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The WSB reporter also asked Cofield if she would do the same in a situation like this again. She replied, “Absolutely not. And I would handle it differently. Maybe talk to somebody and see what the situation is.” Indeed, if lessons have been learned from her actions or the community’s, it’s that people benefit from empathy and understanding.

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With Childs back on his feet, the GoFundMe is still going strong. So far it has raised in excess of $10,000, more than double its original target. The latest update said, “[Childs] 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!”

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