by Brad Nelson 4/19/18
My opinion on the following matter is formed from the content of these three articles: Starbucks sets up re-education camps for baristas by M. Catharine Evans, Why We Shouldn’t Trivialize The Starbucks Arrests by Sarah Quinlan, and some background information about the barista in question, Holly Hylton (sounds like one of Trump’s women), that was presented as a link by a poster.
First off, the most damning part of this “background” information is that she made light of people who can’t speak English well. I guess we’re all racists then. She had mastered in Spanish translation so she hardly sounds like a xenophobe.
But you can connect the dots in such cases about any way you want. Because I frequent a local Starbucks, I have at least a little real-world experience in this area.
It would appear (and, yes, who knows what information will come forward later) that two black men sat down in a Starbucks in Philadelphia a couple days ago. For some unknown reason, the manager asked them to leave. By the eyewitness accounts of other patrons, the two gentlemen were not being disruptive in any way. The manager demanded that they order something or leave. The two gentlemen apparently explained that they were waiting for someone before ordering. After the two men were put in handcuffs by police, this third gentlemen did indeed show up.
I don’t know why the manager escalated things by calling the cops. But when the cops arrived, they escalated further by calling for backup. But, again, it appears there was nothing more going on than two people sitting peaceably in a Starbucks, not making a scene even when told to leave and even when the cops handcuffed them. (The video in one of the articles seems to confirm this.) As for “loitering,” that’s what the in-store space is specifically built for (and advertised as by Starbucks) — as basically an office for businessmen on-the-go.
And that’s what I see when I enter a Starbucks. Most business is actually done through the drive-thru. But in-store you basically see all kinds of technical forms of loitering. On my last visit there I ran into a nice lady (we exchanged business cards) who ran a cleaning service. She sat down at a table next to me and later another lady joined her at her table. She was there for a job interview which they commenced with right then and there.
This is an activity I commonly see there. (I’ve indeed seen other job interviews conducted there.). I also see people doing their taxes, writing reports, doing book readings, doing their college homework, working on their laptops, etc., and some of them may or may not have ordered a coffee. No one is keeping track. Whatever the case may be in the Philadelphia store, there is never a shortage of places to sit.
Three things stand out: The bad judgment of the store manager, the bad judgment of the police in handling this (handcuffing the men and putting them behind bars for eight hours), and the bad judgment of Starbucks management for planning to hold a re-education camp for baristas on May 29. As Catharine Evans noted regarding unintended consequences:
After the brouhaha in Philadelphia last week, try telling anyone who comes through the door of Starbucks that he can’t use the bathroom or squat at one of the tables without buying anything. The domestic terrorists, Black Lives Matter and Antifa, will be smashing windows, looting, and blocking entrances in no time.
I’m not going to boycott Starbucks. The proper thing to have done (if the facts I read are true) was to fire the store manager. That happened. Still undone is to reprimand the cops for acting like Nazis and Starbucks managers for feeding the flames of victimhood and grievance. Can you now imagine any Starbucks manager or employee anywhere in the country “excluding” anyone from their stores, even if they come in smelling like urine and shoot up drugs in the corner?
I think Starbucks has just bought themselves a whole lot of trouble by over-reacting. If I’m a moocher, a vagrant, a bum, a cranky activist, or amongst “the homeless,” I’ve just acquired a few thousand more square feet of well-heated, well-lighted, and roofed floorspace with bathrooms to call home (and/or a place to air grievances). By treating this as a widespread problem instead of an individual incident, it will be interesting to see of Starbucks reaps what it sows.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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