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The Challenge for Lady
Out efforts to reach out to those we fail to realize we pass by daily can in fact be effortless. This challenge is in response to an interaction my mom had with a man who was denied a cup of water as we enter triple digit temperatures. These are my moms words and below is a link to her story through my eyes and your challenge.

June 19th was a scorching day in the Inland Empire' 103* at 2:20pm. As I often do, I stopped at the nearest Starbucks for my usual trenta iced green tea. No sweetener, no ice.

As I entered the 2nd/F St San Bernardino store, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of familiar faces waiting for their order.

That pleasantness rapidly turned to disbelief as I witnessed what appeared to be an unpleasant exchange of some kind between a customer and a Starbucks area manager. At the time, that was an assumption as this person was carrying a rather full notebook and not in the typical black attire/green apron of the Starbucks Barista. After asking my company if they knew what the exchange was about, I moved to the line as my disbelief cycled between anger at the supposed Starbucks manager who has, by this time left the building, and appreciation for the kindness of a Starbucks customer in front of me ordering a beverage for the customer who had been fussed at because he had asked for a cup of ice water. At this time, there were 5 other people sitting in a corner of the store who appeared to be non-paying customers, charging phones/chatting amongst themselves, sipping on cups of ice water. None had been called out or asked to leave. This was not a confrontation that all in the store could hear. This exchange was just loud enough for those nearby to witness.

Mind you people, temperatures were in the triple digits!!

After the ordering customer received his order and had left the store, I had to ask the waiting customer if what I thought had happened had indeed taken place. Introducing myself to this soft-spoken gentleman and asking his name, Ron told me that yes he was told to leave and was denied the cup of water. When Ron was asked if this person had given her name or position with Starbucks, he said she had not.

As a frequent visitor to Starbucks, I found myself apologizing to Ron for the denial of water from a place I have helped support. Never have I been denied the additional cup of ice I always order. I could see no reason for him to not be worthy of such a thing. Who does that no matter the temperature??

Returning to my table, it dawned on me that today was the last day of the weeklong campaign Starbucks was running in partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation “Cups of Kindness”.

According to Starbucks’ website, they would be donating $.25 for every purchase of the 4 specific beverages with a minimum donation of $250,000. In a press release Starbucks is quoted as saying this campaign was to “spread a simple message – be kind”. Gaga herself released a statement, “We’re healthier and happier when we live our lives with compassion and our communities are stronger when we treat one another with generosity and respect”. She also went on to say “Born This Way Foundation and I are so excited to partner with Starbucks to help inspire positivity and love through the Cups of Kindness collection.” (Quotes taken from CNBC.com, June 13, 2017 – Anmar Fangoul)

After asking to speak with the store manager, I was introduced to Britt, the shift manager. I asked Britt the name and position of the woman who had confronted Ron. She said she couldn’t exactly be sure who she was as so many managers etc. come and go. Through I find it hard to believe a shift manager wouldn’t be aware of the comings and goings of such people, who am I to say? As I expressed my irritation at a company as big as this, who had just spent a week promoting kindness would do such a thing, Britt listened patiently. She then asked if I would let her respond to what I had said.

Britt calmly went on to day that the store had many complaints from customers about those loitering in the store. That often times garbage was left around the tables, theft was a problem, and some of the people were rather rude when asked to leave. She also said that these were some of the situations that lead to the limited hours the walk-in doors are opened. As I have grandchildren who attend school nearby, I know all she said to be true; however, based on what I have seen while these maybe problematic at this store, Starbucks had to know this would be an issue at this particular location. Sadly, there is no getting around the homeless issue in this part of San Bernardino. After Britt shared these concerns with me, I reminded her this man wasn’t being disrespectful, disruptive, or rude; he was asking for a cup of ice water, and I returned to my company.

To my surprise, a few minutes later Britt came over to our table and asked if she could have a word. How shocked I was to hear her say she, along with many of the Baristas, had become “hardhearted” toward many of the people who frequented the store. She also said that she planned to get with the other managers of the store to see what they could do to implement a way for those simply wanting water to get it right away; a water station of sorts.

While that would be a wonderful thing to have available, I can’t sit idly by knowing Ron and other like him have not been shown kindness, love, and respect by this giant corporation. It would be easy to call for a boycott of Starbucks but let’s face it, how many of us would really do that for more than a day or 2? How would that benefit the Ron’s who still need a cup of water?

Instead, I am asking when you see someone sitting in your local Starbucks or standing in line for a cup of water, offer to buy them a Frappuccino or a green iced tea even if it means downsizing or doing without your preferred order. Perhaps use your Star Rewards to purchase someone a sandwich, protein box, or a delicious slice of lemon loaf. There are more than 13,000 Starbucks in this country. Imagine the kindness we could together show.

Aside from your stops for coffee, think about carrying a few fast food gift cards with you for someone asking for food money in the Walmart parking lot.

Invite someone sitting outside your eatery in to order a meal.

Perhaps carry a few extra $1 bills with you for the one who’s standing outside am/pm honest enough to tell you they want money for a beer.

Something as simple as handing a cold bottle of water to a person holding a sign at your off ramp could go a long way to letting them know they are seen and matter.

Look within yourself and “Spread Kindness”, “inspire positivity” and, to quote Starbucks “A Year of Good” ad used to close out 2016, let’s “BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER”!"

Mary Ann

47 views Jun 24, 2017
AliciaH.Eatmon 130 points

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