The year started with a bit of bathroom humor when, in the wee hours of a Minnesota morning, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson needed to, well, wee.
And just as he couldn’t make it to the end zone 12 hours earlier, in a loss to the Detroit Lions, Peterson apparently couldn’t rush the last few blocks to his house on January 3 without risking an excretory emergency. So he homed in on a glowing golden “M” — a sign, no doubt, for a men’s room. Or a McDonald’s.
Assistant manager Tiffany Langeslay was working the window at about 3 a.m. when Peterson walked up. “Sir, you can’t be in my drive-through,” she told Peterson, according to a KTSP newscast. After Peterson explained his situation and another McDonald’s worker identified him, Langeslay let the star inside to do his business. “He’s a public figure,” she said. “I know him more than I know some of the maintenance people who come through.”
Nevertheless, letting a patron into the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, restaurant at that hour violated company rules, and Langeslay, a seven-year employee, was fired a few days later. “I never thought in a million years that that decision was going to cost me my career,” she said.
“Everyone in the newsroom was talking about it,” reporter Jennifer Griswold recalled. “People were laughing about it, wondering why [Peterson] had to use the bathroom so bad. But as we talked about it more, you started feeling for her.”
“Anyone in that position would do what she did,” Griswold added. “Everyone in Minnesota knows who [Peterson] is.”
Griswold and her team turned the story around in five hours, talking to Langeslay and capturing her message to Peterson. “She was so committed to her job,” Griswold said of the interview. “It really meant a lot to her.”
Just before the piece aired, the news team got a call from McDonald’s. The upshot: Langeslay was getting her job back.
“There was that immediate satisfaction of being able to help someone — to have a woman call that day and get her job back that night,” Griswold said. “She had been trying to get answers and wasn’t able to. We had enough pull that we were able to help in this situation.”
One Minnesotan in particular had reason to celebrate the happy ending. Though he didn’t respond to Langeslay’s online plea, Peterson was quick with a two-part tweet on the news of her reinstatement.
“Feel terrible about the nice lady at McDonald’s losing her job,” he said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t aware of the situation or I would have definitely helped in any way possible. I’m very happy she has been re-hired and wish her the best.”
Almost a year later, Langeslay confirmed that she is still an assistant manager with McDonald’s.
As for Peterson, he has faced his share of restroom-themed ribbing.
A few weeks after the incident, he excitedly tweeted, “So I made my first trip to McDonald! Since the incident last month! And it went smoothly! I was able 2 just walk in n use D Restroom!”
One follower’s response: “Number one or number two?”
Photo: Scott Boehm, Getty Images
Caroline Que is the D.C. editor for Yahoo! Local. Before joining Yahoo!, she worked at the Washington Post.