It was called a “feel good” story, but it was all about feeling bad.
A 50-year-old woman was shopping with her 40-year-old wife at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey. At the checkout counter, they noticed a slightly heavyset cashier with a graying beard. He was ringing up and bagging groceries.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the guy from The Cosby Show,” Karma Lawrence would tell the media.
Had this been 30 years ago, the incident would have ended there, and you would not know a thing about it. But because everyone now carries the world in a pocket, Lawrence quickly went online and found photos to confirm her belief that the cashier was indeed Geoffrey Owens, who had a featured role on “The Cosby Show” from 1987 to 1992.
So Lawrence did what so many of us now do, for no reason, and with nothing good to come from it. Without even speaking to him, she snapped Owens’ picture and posted it on the Internet.
You know what happened next. The Daily Mail ran the photo and wrote a story about how Owens, 57, had been spotted working as a cashier, a job that reportedly paid around $11 an hour. And a viral firestorm began.
Now, while the Daily Mail piece had a condescending tone, if you read the actual comments after the article, you see more people saying, “Why is this a big deal,” than you do people making fun of Owens.
But there’s no pathos in that. Instead, the headline became that Owens was being “job shamed” on a massive scale, and way more media outlets ran that story, and next thing you know, Owens was on “Good Morning America”, and CNN, and in People magazine. He said all the right things, that work was work, that there was nothing shameful about going from high-profile acting to low-profile earning-a-living.
— Traveling Frank (@Loudplace) September 9, 2018