Thank you, Joey Prusak

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 09/23/2013

I couldn’t let the week end without acknowledging the maturity and fortitude of Joey Prusak, the 19-year-old Dairy Queen manager who refused to serve a woman after she stole $20 from a visually impaired customer.

As I have often stated, tolerating and placating arrogant, abusive, and disrespectful customers enables them. Some customers need to be fired for the sake of employee morale, and for the benefit of the majority of customers, who are good people. Toxic customers are bad for business.

According to The Huffington Post, Joey Prusak not only refused service to the thief, but he also approached the victim and gave him $20 out of his own pocket.

This refreshing story has garnered national attention because there are so many things to like about it:

#1- Joey’s humility. “I was just doing what I thought was right,” Prusak said Thursday as he recalled the incident from earlier this month. I did it without even really thinking about it…Ninety-nine out of 100 people would have done the same thing as me.”

Joey, I wish that was true, but it’s not.

#2- It came to light through an independent observer, another customer in line behind the thief, who witnessed the incident and sent an email to Dairy Queen. From the email via Reddit:

An older lady in front of me picked up the [$20] bill and instead of telling the gentleman that he dropped it, she put it in her purse. She, as well as everyone else in the store knew that it was dropped by the gentleman when he was struggling to find his pocket and put his change away. Before I could say something to her, your employee stepped in. He politely asked her to give the $20 bill back to the young man who was blind. She told your employee that it was her money and she dropped it. Your employee asked her again to return the money to its rightful owner. She declined to do so. He then asked her to leave the store as he would not serve someone as disrespectful as her. She got extremely angry and began to swear at your employee. He stayed calm and never gave her any attitude. He calmly asked asked her to leave the store again, as he would not serve her if she wouldn’t return the money to its rightful owner.The older woman left the store, without returning the money. It was now my turn to order. Your employee kept his cool and greeted me politely and apologized for the incident that had just taken place.

[The entire email is worth reading.]

#3- Joey stood his ground and kept his cool.

#4- Someone took the time to document the story and send the email. Many people are quick to criticize and complain, but often hesitate to compliment.

#5- When Joey returned the money, he said he was doing it on behalf of Dairy Queen.

#6- Joey has worked at Dairy Queen for 5 years, and was just promoted to manager in the spring.

#7- Joey is saving money to attend school for business management. Perfect.

#8- Billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company owns DQ, called Joey, and according to the Huff Post piece, Joey said, “He called and thanked me for being a role model for all the other employees and people in general.”


#9- Business has picked up considerably, and people are leaving big tips.

#10- Dean Peters, a spokesman for International DQ, said the company is figuring out how to reward Joey.

I love this kid.

6 Responses to “Thank you, Joey Prusak”

  1. Kesa says:

    Warren Buffet should send Joey to college. I think he can afford it.

  2. paula says:

    We need to hear stories about people doing the right thing. It encourages others to do the same & discourages the scumbags who would take advantage of someone less fortunate.

    As for Warren Buffet & Co, I agree with Kesa they should pay Joey’s way through college, wherever he wishes to attend.

  3. lawrene says:

    That’s a great idea, Kesa. Heck yeah Warren Buffett should send this young man to business college. He is most certainly what business today needs.

  4. Big Louie says:

    Before I read the part about the wonderfully supportive email, I wondered at first, “what did the other people in line do? Why didn’t someone *else* mention something?”

    Of course the story about Joey is heartwarming. The fact that the other person in line took time to write an email to his boss is also heartwarming.

    And kudos to Dairy Queen for supporting its workers/managers. I am aware that the culture of some corporate (and also privately owned) restaurants is to discourage employee interaction with regard to non-violent disputes or interactions between customers.

  5. p.mac says:

    Big Louie has a great point here, but sometimes humanity must over rule situations that are not written in the employee hand book, when compasssion gets the best of you regarding a situation that has JUST occured, and you react upon this NOW, rather than thinking about what you should have done, later.
    Bravo to the young man behind the counter. Bravo to the wonderful lady who took the time to compose an email to corporate headquarters regarding the incident. Without her customer support, this story may have never come to our attention.

  6. p.mac says:

    Joey is a truly fine young man. He was given a high five from Warren Buffett, and a promotion. Mr. Buffett is a nice guy, very generous. I have waited on him on him at high end restaurants over the last 10 years. It would be nice, indeed if he picked up the tab for Joey’s education, but this isn’t a Frank Capra movie from the 1940′s. It may be in Buffett’s best interest, however, to educate this young man and bring him into the fold. A win/win for all.

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