The last several days in Paige Yore's life say plenty about the way we live today — but their ultimate meaning has yet to be told.
On Friday, Yore posted a Facebook video about an experience at a Pueblo Walmart. She says that after an angry customer berated a young employee, the staffer confessed to her that his mother had committed suicide that morning — and she comforted him.
The clip went viral — but Walmart representatives say it's fiction.
Afterward, Yore, who claims she's been receiving death threats, pulled down the video and her entire Facebook page — although we found a copy of the clip on YouTube that's shared here. However, she insists the tale she told is true.
In Yore's original video, she says that after a customer berated the cashier, she told the emotional worker, who she guesses was around sixteen, "It's okay, it's okay. Everybody has a rough day."
His response: "'No, no, no... you don't understand. Ma'am, my mom just committed suicide this morning. And I have to work because I have to pay our rent. And I have to pay our bills. And I don't even have a mom anymore."
At that point in the video, Yore becomes emotional before delivering this message: "That just showed me, no matter what, even if your customer service sucks, even if whatever happened, someone is rude to you, be your customer service. Don't jump down their throat, because they are fighting a battle none of us know about..... Some days just suck. But we just have to be thankful to be alive. Treat people like you want to be treated. Don't lay into somebody like that because you never know what's going on in their life."
Here's the video:
The footage quickly went viral, racking up what KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs estimates at more than twenty million views.
Then, on Saturday, Yore put up a new video on her YouTube channel, which is filled with inspirational yet little viewed clips, most from several months ago.
The latest one, which currently has topped more than 5,000 views, is entitled "You've got the power!!!" Over the course of several minutes, Yore refers obliquely to the success of her previous video amid advice like this: "People are always going to try to find a way to down you — to make you look silly. You are the one who gives those opinions power. Let yourself to be the one who decides your worth....
"I cannot thank you from the bottom of my heart enough for sharing my inspiring words on Friday because it is going to change my life," she says toward the message's conclusion. "I'm taking one more step to getting to my big goal. One more step to changing lives — because of you guys."
Yore also encourages people to "subscribe to my YouTube channels ... see my videos weekly and I hope to have another couple of experiences like I did Friday and be able to inspire some people,"
Here's that video:
Shortly thereafter, the situation took a major turn for the worse from Yore's perspective.
A Walmart spokesman told media outlets such as 7News that surveillance footage did indeed show that Yore visited the store in question. However, he maintains that "there was never a conversation about his mother. He never went around the bagging area and hugged her. He is in good health and his mother is in good health."
The cashier has not been made available to the media — but the Walmart rep says he has no idea what could have led Yore to believe his mother had ended her life.
Before long, sites such as Buzzfeed were emphasizing Walmart's implication that the video was fake. Meanwhile, Yore made her video and Facebook page private and laid low — but she surfaced late yesterday in an interview with KRDO.
After saying that she's received "thousands of hateful e-mails and several death threats," Yore stressed that the incident she described really did happen and wasn't a bid for notoriety. “What I am doing is not about the fame, it's not about the money, it's not about being on ABC. It's about touching people's lives in a world where we all forget what the meaning of Christmas is," she said.
She expressed disappointment with the turn of events, noting, "I was trying to spread a good message in a wicked world and it turned into this."
Here are two KRDO videos — the station's main report and the complete interview with Yore.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE...
Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.