As I watched coverage of the latest shooting, I thought of Tom Dailey, the Sprint employee who got in trouble last month after the Nashville theater attack.
Dailey was being interviewed on live TV by Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. While breathlessly describing events next door, Dailey somewhat jarringly promoted Sprint’s Cut Your Bill in Half plan.
“We were trying to promote our Cut Your Bill in Half when we had a couple police officers come in, tell us to lock all the doors, close everything,” Dailey said.
The news anchor let the first mention slide.
“Where do you work in relation to this place?” Smith asked.
Dailey, ever enthusiastic, hit the sales point again.
“We work at Sprint. Where we cut your bill in half.”
The Fox News anchor grew annoyed.
“That’s nice advertising, here in the middle of a shooting at a movie theater,” Smith said.
Dailey quickly apologized, and blamed habit.
“I’m just so used to saying it so much,” he said.
The next day, Dailey wound up in hot water with his employer. Sprint announced it would take action in the matter.
My heart went out to Dailey. (And not just because he kept pronouncing ‘theater’ as thee-AY-ter. Which I always appreciate.)
The guy was excited and discombobulated. The guy lives in a nation where people are regularly shooting up public places for no apparent reason. He was just yards away when one of these terrifying eruptions occurred.
Further, he has probably said the phrase ‘Where We Cut Your Bill in Half,’ oh, I don’t know, about five thousand times? He probably gets written up if he doesn’t say it. I bet he says these words so often, he doesn’t even hear them anymore.
To me, this weird little moment in the midst of an interview said more about the state of our nation than about Tom Dailey.
We interrupt this shooting coverage to express our outrage over the crass marketing which just interrupted our shooting coverage. Which will be soon be interrupted by more marketing.
We apologize for this idiot accidentally reminding us that these workplace shootings are becoming so common that most of us care more about our mobile plan rates.
We apologize that the real business of America — making money — reared its head at a moment when we were pretending it was something else. Like being a community.
We apologize for this guy shilling for Sprint after an attempted murder. Even though we ourselves plastered the TV screen with Fox News logos, banner art, and branded ‘news personalities.’
Sprint has not said what action it took, if any, to punish the employee.
What Sprint should do instead is start using its corporate muscle to lobby lawmakers to curtail gun violence, to protect workerbees like Tom Dailey.
As for when salesmanship is appropriate, it occurred to me that a flow chart might help Dailey and his co-workers.
So I made one!