A GoFundMe page for a former Holiday Inn Express employee has received more than $84,000 in donations in the first day.
An irate customer filmed the employee, identified only by his first name and last initial — Caleb C — in the midst of a mental and emotional breakdown after the customer reportedly called the employee a "fa**ot."
The former employee's reaction garnered sympathy from the internet, which in turn donated to a GoFundMe page set up to benefit him.
What are the details?
A viral video shows Caleb, a front desk staffer at an undisclosed Holiday Inn Express location, having a breakdown as an unidentified customer harangues him over what is believed to be a booking error.
In the video, an unnamed male can be heard berating Caleb for "stealing" his money and changing his reservation. The unnamed male continues goading the employee, telling him that he's filming him. At one point, Caleb begins hitting himself in the head and goes on to bang his head against the computer monitor. The guest continues filming Caleb and says, "Wow. You've got to be kidding me." The video continues to roll even as Caleb walks off-screen and begins wailing. The guest then walks around the other side of the front desk to film the employee, even as he seeks cover from the man and the camera's prying lens.
What happened then?
Filmmaker and self-proclaimed "race-baiter" Tariq Nasheed initially shared the video on social media, framing it as a white versus black issue. He captioned the video, "A white Holiday Inn express worker has a nervous breakdown after he got scolded by a black customer because of a mistake in the reservation system."
(Content warning: Disturbing footage):
A white Holiday Inn Express worker has a nervous breakdown after he got scolded by a Black customer because of a mi… https://t.co/m6uXM30xYQ— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸) 1619391790.0
'I do have mental disorders'
Caleb, however, took the opportunity to address the controversy online, where he revealed that he suffers from mental illness.
"While I've now quit this position (my management supported me, and told me I'm welcome back. The guest was ejected from the hotel for escalating issues with staff and the owners.) I do have mental disorders," he revealed. "I suffer from BPD and schizo-affective disorders. What this fine, 5'5" bald gentleman behind the camera DIDN'T record was the fact that he called me a F**GOT for an associate's mistake. He was aggressive, and fishing for a reaction. He sure got it; and I'm glad this was a wake up call for me to stop slaving away for corporations who do not care about you at all, or the guests."
Neither the former employee nor the company ever said that he was drunk on the job.
Jeremy Hambly, who created the GoFundMe page, wrote, "A Holiday Inn employee was harassed and filmed by a customer having a mental breakdown & is now receiving death threats & having thoughts of self-harm. It turns out this employee has BPD with schizo-active tendencies. According To Him. Let's give him enough of a head start on finding a job where people don't treat him terrible & he can take a nice little vacation."
On Tuesday, Caleb took to the GoFundMe page to thank supporters for their donations.
He wrote, "I don't know how to comprehend any of what's happened the last few days. it is both overwhelming for good and bad reasons as anyone could expect. i just -cannot- fathom what is missing in people's hearts to make them hate, and turn this into anything but what it is on a prime level: the state of mental illness in the united states of america."
He continued, "[O]n a base level, as humans, we rely on each other. we build each other up. love your neighbors - show love to strangers. we are one, or we are NONE. i am shutting off social media to recollect, get back to counseling/therapies, and promise to put portions back into my community and mental-health related charities once i sit down and research which are the best choices."
The former employee concluded, "[F]or now - rest with my fur-babies. rest with the love of my life. please, everyone, take care of yourselves and look out for one another."