Max's Blog

How Pop Culture Leads and Misleads

Tag: insane customers

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.

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Other People: Emily Dix

As fascinating as I am, I’ve decided to devote one post a week to one of my fabulous, interesting friends. Emily Dix is an actress, singer, director and model, although she is currently grinding beans at a cafe, which is where we met. We have been bosom buddies since we discovered a mutual love of Judy Garland. She will soon be producing a stage show ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ for the Victoria College Drama Society at the University of Toronto (click here for the facebook group). The original film is one of the funniest, most underrated movies of all time. She has a wise old soul under her cherubic face.

MM: What is the most exciting thing you’re doing right now?

ED: Honestly, I think the most exciting thing I’m doing at the moment is looking for an apartment with my boyfriend. We’re moving in together the beginning of August and I’m pretty psyched. It’ll be nice to get a pretty new place we can decorate together, somewhere that actually feels like home. That and the couple little film projects Matt and I are working on together. We both need to build up our demo reels (I’m an actor, he’s a writer/director) and so that’s our goal for the summer.

MM: What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

ED: Oh wow, so many things. Well, at heart I’m a real housewife: I hope I’m married, have a kid or two, and a nice home. That’s the number one goal. As far as a career, I’ve always wanted to be a high school English and drama teacher. I love teaching students and those are the subjects I’m most passionate about. I also have this little dream of one day opening up my own arts studio, somewhere that encourages kids to get involved in dance, drama, singing, anything artistic really. I’d like to manage that, and do some of the teaching as well. Annnnd…I guess I’d like to still be acting too, hopefully in something a little better known by then.

MM: Describe your bedroom.

ED: Well first off, it’s a mess. The thing is, at the moment my bedroom is my entire apartment because I live in a bachelor. So there’s clothes, books, dishes, papers, movies, JUNK strewn everywhere. To add to that, Matt pretty much lives with me already as he’s here about 5 or 6 days a week. So add to that mess his comics, movies, clothes, coffee cups- we call it “the abyss”. But, when we move, it will be a bit better. Underneath the mess you can see vintage movie posters, a few odd dolls and stuffed toys (I’m sentimental AND a pack-rat, dangerous combination), a lot of books and movies in every genre you can imagine, and basically just a lot of colour.

MM: Where is the next place you’d like to travel?

ED: I haven’t really been much of anywhere, so I’d like to go anywhere really. Matt and I have talked about going to New York. I went there once but it was a school trip with a lot of limits on what we could see and do. I’d love to go back to the museums and of course see a Broadway show. I have also always wanted to go to Tokyo: bright lights give me such a rush, and I think the only thing better than Times Square would be a main strip in Tokyo. Plus I love the whole culture, and tried to (mostly unsuccessfully, unfortunately) learn the language a few years back. I’d like to try again. Immersion would help.

MM: What book should everybody read as soon as possible?

ED: Dry by Augusten Burroughs –The only book to make me laugh AND CRY. I am not a girlie girl, it takes a lot. It’s this darkly funny and touching “memoir” (I use the term loosely as I feel it may be another A Million Little Pieces type thing, but I don’t think the accuracy of the stories should have any weight on how the reader is affected…anyway…) written by a gay alcoholic advertising genius. Don’t let that scare you off. Even if you know nothing about being gay, or an alcoholic, or advertising, I PROMISE you, you will find something relatable in this book. It’s great. Go read it now.

MM: You’re into film and theatre: what are your most and least favourite things about each?

ED: Well, favourite thing about theatre is the thrill of seeing a character come to life, whether I’m the actor, or the writer, or director. Seeing something you had some part in creating really come to life on stage is just…awesome. When I’m onstage I can become a completely different person, and it’s ok! I live for the audience’s reaction (laughter is especially thrilling, but I’ll take tears too, depending on the show of course, heh). And if I’m involved in the behind the scenes, it’s the same kind of thing, and I’m proud of the actor when they do a good job, it’s the same feeling I get when I’m teaching. Film is similar too, except without the audience reaction. So I guess what I like about it is that I can be really creative with what exactly is shown, and I love to play around with techniques and an interesting score. Now, as far as least favourite, for both, without a doubt, would be some of the people associated with it. There are a lot of pretentious film and theatre people out there, and they get on my nerves like you wouldn’t believe. I can’t stand snobs. And I don’t like how competitive some people get with it too, not the healthy fun competition, but the mean back-stabby kind. There’s no need for it.

MM: Tell us about the absolute worst day you ever had at a job.

ED: There are way too many stories for this one. Buuut I’ll stick with a recent one. It’s the customers, you know? I’ve worked retail for 5 years and you meet a lot of interesting (see, *awful*) people, but I think the lowest of the low was a woman I had the other day who complained about the deaf/mute woman in line in front of her. Now, I’ve had customers scream at me, threaten me, question how I was raised, threaten to have me fired, call me a b*tch and far worse, but THIS woman struck a chord in just how INSENSITIVE she was. My first customer of the day was this very sweet woman who was deaf and mute, and apparently unable to read lips. To communicate we had to write back and forth to each other. Now, this did mean it took a little longer than usual, but the whole conversation took under 2 minutes, less than it would have taken had I been dealing with a complicated order. The woman in line behind her sighed and rolled her eyes the entire time, muttering things like, “for god sakes” and “this is ridiculous”. She repeatedly cut in with dumb questions like, “Where’s your coffee? It’s not on the menu” (it’s right at the top, actually). I kept telling her I’d “be with you in a minute ma’am, I’m with another customer” but she wouldn’t shut up!

When my co-worker finished whatever she was working on and came over to say, “Can I help you” to which the snob’s response was “any time today!” She then spent several minutes complaining about a dog outside, wasting FAR more time than the other woman had. And then she stormed out when she found we kept the coffee in canisters LIKE EVERY OTHER SHOP IN THE CITY. I wanted to strangle her.

MM: If it was socially acceptable which five movie characters would you dress like?

ED: My mind is immediately searching through all the stunning dresses I’ve seen in MGM musicals over the years. Well, I guess first off I’d have to say Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Not the most glamourous dress I know, but since I was a kid I’ve loved (ie. worshiped) that film, and so the dress is sort of a staple fashion piece for me. Sad Fact: I actually already own 2 versions of this dress; the true-to-film version my mother made me when I was 12 (it still fits! early growth-spurt) and the “sexy” Halloween version (imagine it as a mini skirt and low bust-line). I sometimes wear it while watching the film- your guess which version ;-P

Then there’s the cute little number Jane Powell wore in Royal Wedding for one of her big dance numbers with Fred Astaire, the one to “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You”- an early 50’s beatnik getup, yellow and black, tight and fabulous. It’s so stylized, how could I not love it? And I’ve always loved vintage fashion.

Judy Garland’s ensemble during the “Man That Got Away” scene in A Star Is Born is adorable. It’s neat, clean lines  show off every curve, and I feel like it’s something that could still be worn today without standing out TOO much. Plus I just love that scene and would think of it every time I wore it.

For the sake of having something a little more modern, I’ll look to the movie Grease, and in particular, the red hot number Rizzo wore for the big school dance. I know this is set in the 50’s, but there’s still something very early 80’s about all the stuff in it, in particular Rizzo’s outfits and Sandy’s final skankified number. I think it’s sexy and cute at the same time, and love the bit of retro flare.

And last but not least…geez, I can think of dozens upon dozens of stunning gowns, but I guess I’ll stick with the slightly more casual ones I’ve been citing…ooh! No, okay, its not really a casual outfit, but it is a nightgown! in Bringing Up Baby the brilliant flick starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. There is a scene where Susan (Hepburn) is trying to convince David (Grant) to come over and deal with a leopard she has acquired from her brother Mark. She’s sitting there in this RIDICULOUS frilly, poofy, CRAZY nightgown and I love it. No one should ever be that dressed up while lounging in their own home, but it is so fitting of the overly glamourous 40’s that I really wish I had it.