What's the worst experience you've ever had in a big chain restaurant? At Chevy's on my fifth or sixth birthday, following a boisterous rendition of their signature birthday song, a server snuck up behind me with a tiny bowl of flan and shoved the unwanted custard into my mouth. Pretty mild, right? Well, at a Brooklyn TGI Friday's last week, Brooklyn Daily photographer Georgine Benvenuto experienced a far worse story — she had her nose chopped by a TGI Friday's "mistletoe drone," in what you have to assume is one of the strangest high-tech backfires in the restaurant's history.
In fairness, it's not as if you couldn't envision problems with having drones drifting through a popular restaurant, even if they're meant to bring good cheer. The basic concept is simple enough — mistletoe-adorned drones that float over the heads of TGI Friday's patrons, tacitly nudging them to smooch on camera. Depending on your views on public displays of affection, this may or may not be your thing, but what's undeniably nobody's thing is losing a piece of your nose to an out-of-control fan blade.
But by all reports, that's exactly what happened — one of the drones lost control and chopped the tip of Benvenuto's nose with its spinning rotor blades.
The operator of the drone, David Quiones, insists it wasn't his fault, blaming a Brooklyn Daily reporter in attendance with Benvenuto for the mishap. They were attempting to land the drone on the reporter's hand (at the operator's encouragement, according to Brooklyn Daily) when she flinched, sending in in Benvenuto's direction — which raises the question, of course, of why somebody would attempt to do that in the first place.
From the Brooklyn Daily:
TGI Friday’s much-hyped “Mobile Mistletoe” drones drew first blood in their New York City debut on Dec. 4 at the chain’s beloved Sheepshead Bay location when one of them hit our intrepid photographer right in the face.
I kind of can't get over this story. In a modern business climate in which liability and risk of personal injury loom large, and pedantic warnings and disclaimers are offered for so many relatively minor risks, the idea that TGI Friday's would be running novelty holiday drones indoors with exposed, whirling rotor blades just above them seems hard to figure. Even more so when you read Brooklyn Daily's account of the incident, and what I'd consider a pretty lackadaisical response from Quiones.
If people get hurt, they’re going to come regardless. People get hurt in airplanes, they still fly. There is a risk involved — anything flying, there is risk.
Of course, the risk assumed in flying on a plane is less than other major forms of transportation, and is essential and unavoidable within the context of air travel. The risk assumed when sitting down for dinner at a TGI Friday's — a spike in your blood pressure, perhaps? — in no sense needs to include exposed-blade drones hovering over your head. Yes, "anything flying, there is risk," but you're not in the flying business. Frankly, as excuses after embarrassing accidents go, I think the folks at TGI Friday's ought to work a little harder.
Images: TGI Fridays Mistletoe Drones/Screenshot