Monday, August 16, 2010

Woman booted from Starbucks for arguing lexicography

Posted on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Listen up, grammar nerds. I know that existing in a world with a callous disregard for the rules of grammar and punctuation can be exhausting, but you've got to know when to pick your battles.

A woman in New York learned this the hard way after police were called to escort her from the Starbucks where she had been causing a ruckus, according to The New York Post. Lynne Rosenthal, an English professor (of course), attempted to order a multigrain bagel. When the barista asked if she wanted cream cheese or butter, she refused — saying it was "linguistically ... stupid" to have to specify what she doesn't want.

When the barista refused to serve her unless she made clear her allegiance to products from a cow's udder, she blanched. And then, she allegedly lost it.

"I yelled, 'I want my multigrain bagel!' " Rosenthal says.

Now, there are several examples of stupidity in this tale (aside from the linguistic). First, the barista was probably just doing his job, which is up-selling; cream cheese costs extra at Starbucks. He's probably required to ask a) because people usually want cream cheese or butter and sometimes forget to ask, and b) because it makes Starbucks more money.

On the other hand, when the barista took the multigrain bagel hostage — allegedly telling Rosenthal "You're not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!" — he was clearly being ridiculous.

There's likely more to this tale than is being told, but the moral of the story is (as always) that you cannot change a multinational corporation's policies by screaming at its minimum-wage employees. Customers should remember that service workers are in fact human beings, and are simply doing what they're told. Employees should remember that customers are not scripts in the handbook, and that dealing with them on a personal basis is generally the best recipe for both tips and not having to call the police.

And who goes to Starbucks for bagels in New York City?

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