An Open Letter
Dear Lynne Rosenthal,
I learned from the New York Post that you are a professor of English, having received a PhD from Columbia University. Congratulations! I hope that you are using your position as one of our sparkling intellectual lights to illuminate the minds and guide the souls of the fresh generation.
Full disclosure: I worked for Starbucks in both Toronto and Dublin. It always struck me as interesting that Starbucks is a celebrity brand with more people reading about the stores than patronizing them. For these reasons, the Huffingtonpost headline “English Professor Kicked Out of Starbucks for Ordering ‘Incorrectly’” intrigued me. Especially considering how business has been, Starbucks shouldn’t be throwing customers away for calling a ‘grande’ ‘medium’.
But it wasn’t Starbuck’s notorious cup sizes that caused the problem, was it?
You ordered a toasted multi-grain bagel and, rather than just hand it over, the barista dared to ask if you wanted butter or cheese on it. Now, as an intelligent woman Lynne, you probably realize that for most of us, those of us without degrees from Columbia who waft through life not seeing the linguistic underpinnings of our bagel-purchasing transactions, would have just said “No thank you” and moved on with our day.
But not for Lynne Rosenthal, who the Post claims “blew her top”.
“I just wanted a multigrain bagel,” you told the reporter. “I refused to say ‘without butter or cheese.’ When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want.”
Valid point, Lynne, although you may still have to answer if you’d like to ‘super size’ it, so prepare yourself for that ordeal.
“Linguistically, it’s stupid, and I’m a stickler for correct English.”
Socially, you’re insane. Plus you’ve managed to mix two of my biggest pet-peeves (being rude to service workers and grammar Nazism). Want to throw in some misogyny while you’re at it?
According to the Post, you “next began yelling at the staffer to hand over [your] plain bagel, until the manager finally called the police.”
After what you’d already been through, what with having to answer if you wanted cheese or butter, to then be pulled away by police! How embarrassing!
“Starbucks staff said Rosenthal incited the face-off by hurling profanities at the staffer.”
How could they say that?! Clearly, you were not hauled away like a crazy person for being disruptive and abusive to the minimum wage worker who was just doing their (sorry, Lynne, his or her) job. No, your childish tantrum was entirely justified in the cause of preserving the English language from assaults like ordering bagels in the negative.
As anyone familiar with Starbucks policy knows, they say ‘yes’ to almost anything, so for them to go to the extent of calling the cops you must have been causing an EPIC scene. I want to thank you, Lynne, for now I have the image of you being escorted out of the store, with or without your unbuttered bagel, in my mind for all eternity.
So rather than “English Professor Kicked Out of Starbucks for Ordering ‘Incorrectly’”, the Post’s headline should have read something like “Insane Customer Believes Anal Eccentricities Warrant Screaming, Abuse”. But you can’t blame the Post for phrasing it as they did. Who’d want to read that? It doesn’t fit the popular meme of Starbucks baristas being uppity bitches about cup sizes. And it happens every single day.