The grocery store cook who lost his job over a face-to-face tiff with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has no ill-will toward his former employer.
In a phone interview Tuesday with TPM, Drew Swope said he has no hard feelings toward Reid’s Fine Foods, the gourmet grocery store in Charlotte, or the boss who fired him after the incident with McCrory.
“It’s a worker’s paradise, really,” Swope said. “It’s a great spot.”
Swope also said in a Facebook post on Sunday that Reid’s “is the best grocer in the city” and that its employees are “treated fairly.”
But the 45-year-old hasn’t been similarly forgiving of the governor. Since his firing on Sunday, Swope’s Facebook page has been littered with supportive messages from friends and vitriol directed at McCrory.
In more than one post, Swope referred to McCrory as a “fag.” The openly gay Swope said those insults were motivated by what he detected as prejudice from McCrory.
“When he started yelling at me, it was a sudden turn because I made sort of a swishy move,” Swope said. “I’ve been discriminated against a lot, and I can see that moment when someone just suddenly goes ballistic because of this other thing, not what you said or did.”
He acknowledged that he “can’t get inside [McCrory’s] mind,” but is certain that homophobia was at work.
“I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’ll tell you from man to man: He was hating on me for being a fag,” Swope said.
McCrory’s office did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment, but a spokesman told the Charlotte Observer that the governor never raised his voice. The spokesman also said that Swope flashed an obscene gesture, an accusation that Swope emphatically denied.
Here’s Swope’s version of events, word-for-word.
“It was a whole bunch of nothing, really. I saw a confused person looking for onions and said, ‘Can I help you, sir?’ And he said no,” he recalled. “Then I said, ‘Oh, Pat McCrory. Thanks for nothing.’ Then I walked away. And he started yelling at me and eyes were bulging out of his head. He was just insisting that he shouldn’t be treated this way, and all the other workers and butchers were like, ‘Why is this man yelling at Drew?’”
After that, Swope said he was trailed around the store by McCrory’s “goons” before he was told by the store’s higher-ups to go home until further notice.
“We all know what that really means. You’re fired and please don’t go postal,” Swope joked.
Sure enough. Less than a half hour later, he received a call informing him that he was getting the axe.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Swope said. “I mean, I would have fired me. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years. I know the rules.”
Swope said he only has $200 in his bank account, and he spoke to TPM between job interviews.
But despite the predicament, Swope said he’d “do it all over again” and indicated that he’s going to keep telling off the state’s conservative leaders.
“Oh, this is a tough state to live in, dude. It’s really weird,” he said. “But this is where the battle is, and I’m not leaving and I’m not going to shut up.”