Illustration: Ashley Siebels
Bradley Reid had a six-word question for Cracker Barrel that he still hasn’t found answers for yet: “why did you fire my wife?”
That little phrase has upturned the Internet over the past week. Brad’s question has created an army of internet detectives and even some official law enforcement fans who all want to know: why did Brad’s wife get fired?
On February 27, Reid wrote a personal Facebook post in which he discussed how his wife Nanette lost her retail manager job at Cracker Barrel — a demanding white-collar job.
The reason he was given, he says, is that her job was “not working out.” He was dissatisfied with that.
“After 11 YEARS? Come on,” he wrote. “This old boy is STORMING!!!! You can’t even get people to work 40 hours these days and her AVERAGE week was 50 to 60.”
In the post, Reid even named Nanette’s boss, the woman behind the firing, calling her a “low life.”
To say I'm pissed off would be an understatement. After 11 years, those low lifes at Cracker Barrel let my wife go. I…
Ladders reached out to the Reids and to Cracker Barrel and will update when they respond.
How a firing became an internet-wide sensation
Reid encouraged people to ask about his wife’s firing on Cracker Barrel’s Facebook page, and on Tuesday, he did the same, plainly asking a corporate social media page, “why did you fire my wife?” Comedian Amiri King noticed Reid’s plea and shared the exchange with his millions of followers on Facebook. From there, the internet did what it does best, and turned this couple’s story into a meme as #justiceforbradswife, #bradswifematters and #notmycountrystore flooded Twitter and Cracker Barrel’s social media pages.
No post the company made was safe.
Cracker Barrel’s mundane post about a stainless steel Seahorse Bottle received a fiery poem from one reader in response: “Roses are red / This seahorse is blue / So is brads wife / Thanks to you.”
The memes soon took over.
— SpicyBrycy (@Bryswilson) March 23, 2017
One person edited the Wikipedia page to note that Cracker Barrel had 70,000 employees “minus Brad’s wife.”
A Chick-fil-A in Texas even offered Reid’s wife a job through their social media account.
— ChickfilA Georgia St (@cfageorgiast) March 24, 2017
Nanette Reid has not shared her side of the story, so in her silence, one user created a fake Twitter account in her name.
— Brad's Wife (@realBradswife) March 23, 2017
A Change.org petition seeking answers for Nanette Reid has over 24,000 signatures, but it’s unclear if the couple’s viral fame has led to any action. As of Tuesday, Reid said he has not received a response from Cracker Barrel management even though he sends them an email “EVERY day.”
“I know that people are amused by this situation and hope you can understand that for us this a serious situation,” he wrote, using the hashtag #stillwaiting.
Don’t do this. It won’t help you.
Reid’s story offers a cautionary lesson in using social media to get your story out there: yes, your story will reach more people, but once the memes take over, it will no longer be yours.
Due to her husband’s public involvement, this story will follow Nanette Reid as she seeks future employment. Future employers may see infamy and damage to their reputations waiting for them.
Knowing how to tell your story is critical in job interviews, and that becomes harder when you let an internet jury weigh in on your life and tell it for you. Many, for example, mistakenly believed that Nanette Reid was fired on her husband’s birthday.
If your firing was contentious, you may feel tempted to put the company on blast in your job interviews, but you’re advised not to do that. As one advice column put it, badmouthing your previous employer leads interviewers to wonder: “Are they going to be badmouthing me someday too?”
Nanette Reid may have been a wonderful retail manager with 11 years of accomplishments that deserve to be recognized, but all she will be remembered for now is being “Brad’s wife” — and a social media footprint that may scare off other companies.