Starbucks baristas and customer (not Gutierrez or Gilles)
Starbucks baristas and customer (not Gutierrez or Gilles)
Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, a woman named Amber Lynn Gilles visited a Starbucks in San Diego. She refused to wear her mask, despite a county order that requires everyone to wear a mask in public, barring medical conditions that make it impossible for them to do so. The barista, Lenin Gutierrez, refused to serve her. Gilles took her fury to Facebook.

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“Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask,” she wrote. “Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of social media posts, some containing video, of baristas refusing to serve unmasked customers, but for some reason, this one attracted more attention than usual and more than 133,000 comments, most of them critical of Gilles.

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One man, Matt Cowan, decided to take things further: he created a GoFundMe to raise extra tip money for Lenin for, as he wrote, “his honorable effort standing his ground when faced with a Karen in the wild.” Initially the goal was $1,000, he told KGTV news, but the donations kept rolling in and Cowan kept expanding the goal. As of Friday morning, it had raised more than $37,000. All the money will go to Gutierrez.

On Tuesday, Gutierrez posted his own Facebook video telling his side of the story. Gilles, he said, had “cursed up a storm” and threatened to call corporate, although he never heard anything after she stormed out. (Is anyone who has ever worked in customer service surprised by this version of events?) He said he was overwhelmed by the show of support and said that all he ever wanted to do was dance and share his love of dance with others and that these donations would help make his dreams a reality. He had a mask conspicuously displayed on the table in front of him. It’s a Starbucks fairy tale.

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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