Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I bet you watch this video at least twice.
It’s one of those where you can’t quite believe what happened.
You might even wonder whether it’s some sort of twisted comedy.
But then you’ll really wonder about what happened after the video received an extremely wide online audience.
It begins as any normal day.
The surveillance camera shows a restaurant in China’s Shaanxi province.
A few customers are eating.
A little boy runs in through the plastic curtains that act as a door to the restaurant.
He’s so vigorous in his mission — which was to get chopsticks for his mom — that the plastic billows back and strikes a pregnant diner in the face, causing her to spill her food.
As the little boy skips back out the door, the pregnant woman decides on revenge.
She sticks her foot out and trips him.
The little boy — who turns out to be 4 years old — goes flying. The South China Morning Post reports he suffered a mild concussion.
At first, the little boy’s mother thought he’d just fallen. When she discovered — thanks to confirmation from others in the restaurant — that he’d been tripped, things changed.
Actually, it’s perhaps more that when at least 70 million people on China’s Weibo and WeChat saw the video, this became a people’s court, with the pregnant woman on the stand.
Cries of Shame! rained down on the pregnant woman.
Yes, the boy’s mom was so angry that she called the police.
But here’s the twist: the Washington Post reports that the boy’s parents actually own the restaurant.
You might imagine, then, that they’d want the full force of the law to be the pregnant woman’s downfall.
After all, the boy suffers from a heart condition. Something more serious could easily have occurred. And at their place of business, too.
So when the boy’s mom heard that the pregnant woman had only been given a suspended sentence and fined, you could have expected she’d rail against injustice and protest to the highest heavens. (As much as one can in China.)
Yet she had a very different reaction.
“We do not wish to affect her,” she told China Youth Daily. “I have children myself. I can understand.”
Perhaps she knew that there was a lesson here for the little boy, too. But perhaps she’d also realized the amount of vilification that the pregnant woman had to endure from the online jury.
Your behavior on a single day, at a single moment can end up defining you, if it suddenly becomes social media famous.
Equally, if you’re a business involved in such an incident, your brand can be defined by how you react.
When United Airlines, for example, dragged a paying passenger off a plane, injuring him in the process, it wasn’t just the video that created outrage.
It was how the airline’s CEO, Oscar Muñoz reacted.
He blamed the passenger, rather than instantly looking at the video and reacting as any human being would.
This boy’s mom reacted like a human being.
It’s a wonderful lesson, one that too many business owners forget.