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Fast Food Manager Asks For Their Jacket Back After Employee Dies In Car Accident

Photo: @kayzkrew3 / TikTok
Kenyatta Mcalpine talking about what her daughter's manager said after her daughter died.

A grieving mother named Kenyatta Mcalpine went on TikTok to post about the loss of her daughter, Kailyn, and how her place of employment reacted to the news while Mcalpine was mourning.

Mcalpine revealed that her daughter worked at Wendy’s and was disappointed by their reaction — specifically, what her boss asked for just after Kailyn passed away.

After her employee died, the fast food manager asked for her jacket back from the grieving mother.

“Tonight, three of your employees [were] in a terrible accident. One of them did not make it,” she opened her TikTok. “And the one that didn't make it, was one of the hardest working workers at Wendy's — my baby, Kailyn.”

She uploaded the video on September 21, 2023. And although her daughter, Kailyn, passed away on December 4, 2022, the pain is still strong with Mcalpine as she struggles to talk through tears and choked words.



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She asked viewers a rhetorical question, asking them what they think Kailyn’s boss said. “Not, ‘condolences to the family.’ Not, ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ Not, ‘what can we do to help the family.’" She said, "‘Find out if she has my jacket because I need it back.’”

Instead of offering her condolences or showing an ounce of sympathy, Kailyn’s manager opted to ask about a jacket that she had seemingly lent to Mcalpine’s daughter. She was more worried about getting her jacket back than the employee whose life had just been lost, the mother who had just lost her child, or the family that had just been altered for the rest of their lives.

“I had just found out my daughter was gone, and you [have] the nerve to worry about whether my deceased child, who was unalive, [has] your stupid [expletive] jacket that can be replaced?” she asked. “Because what I lost could never be replaced.”

If your initial reaction is outrage, you're not alone, as responses suggested a similar sentiment.

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Grief and trauma can impact people in very different ways. And sometimes, the response you expect to have to tragedy is not the response you get.

As What's Your Grief explains, "emotional numbness," or feeling nothing at all, can be a very real response to loss. Could this manager's request for the return of something innoucous like a borrowed jacket reflect her grief? It's definitely possible, and not something to simply disregard because it doesn't fit the expected response.

Naturally, Mcalpine is angry about the situation that has been thrust upon her. Anger is a common and natural step in the five stages of grief.

According to the Hospice Foundation of America, Mcalpine is on the right track, as expressing your emotions and learning how to cope with this anger are part of the process moving forward. “Voicing your feelings, expressing anger and any other emotions, is empowering, strengthening, and helps us cope,” they write.



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Wendy’s didn’t offer condolences or do anything to help Mcalpine or her family.

Mcalpine claimed that her daughter had been one of the hardest working employees at Wendy's, and it was heartwrenching that there was no outreach from the company during her time of need. “Wendy's did not call. Wendy's did not send a flower, Wendy's did not try to send a card, nothing. Wendy's did not try to reach out to me, period,” she explained, letting her disappointment be known.

The way Mcalpine was treated by the manager and the fast food restaurant incensed viewers and commenters alike, with many of them extending their support. “The employer is so cold. I am sorry for your loss of your beautiful child,” one commenter shared. “As a restaurant manager this [breaks my heart]. I would’ve sent love, food, and monetary donations. I wouldn’t have even remembered a jacket of all things,” someone else wrote.

While the corporate response from Wendy's was certainly lacking, it's best not to judge the manager's reaction to harshly.

Grief is not easily quantified. No one would argue with Mcalpine's response, especially her anger. But it's possible the manager lost a friend, and her focus on the jacket might just be a way to cope with something truly overwhelming.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.