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Starbucks barista receives US$18,800 in tips after being shamed by ‘Karen’ who refused to wear mask

Matt Cowan started a virtual tip jar for the barista to honour him for dealing with a difficult customer who refused to wear a face mask. — Picture from Facebook/Amber Lynn Gilles and AFP

PETALING JAYA, June 25 — A Starbucks employee in San Diego, California is about to receive the most generous tip of his career after he stood up to a customer who refused to wear a face mask.

A virtual tip jar on GoFundMe for barista Lenin Gutierrez has raised over US$18,800 (RM80,450) since it was first started by Matt Cowan two days ago.

Cowan wrote on the fundraiser’s page that he wanted to raise money for Gutierrez to honour him for standing his ground against a difficult customer.

Amber Lynn Gilles had visited the Starbucks outlet where Gutierrez was working earlier this week and named and shamed him on Facebook for “refusing to serve her” because she was not wearing a mask.

“Meet Lenen (sic) from Starbucks who refused to serve me ‘cause I’m not wearing a mask.

“Next time, I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption,” wrote Gilles.

A GoFundMe called ‘Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen’ was set up to show support to Gutierrez after he was shamed online by a rude customer. — Screengrab from GoFundMe
A GoFundMe called ‘Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen’ was set up to show support to Gutierrez after he was shamed online by a rude customer. — Screengrab from GoFundMe

California residents are currently required by the state’s department of public health to wear face coverings in public to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with exceptions granted for those with certain medical conditions.

Gutierrez uploaded a video on his personal Facebook page on Tuesday thanking people for their donations and support while sharing his side of the story.

“I was assigned to the front register that day and was helping customers when this lady came up. She had no face mask.

“I asked her, ‘Do you have a face mask?’ and she told me, ‘No, I don’t need one.’

“I was going to show her the paper we’ve been provided saying that we’re required face masks though we can still help, but before I can say anything, she flipped me off and said, ‘No! I don’t need one’ and started cursing up a storm.

“She started calling people ‘sheep’ and she left, but she came back a few minutes later to ask for my name and took my photo, said she was going to ‘call corporate’, cursed at everyone, and just left,” said Gutierrez.

Gilles has been labelled online as a “Karen,” a term used to poke fun at middle-aged white women who often display racist, entitled, and rude behaviour while out in public.

Many people came to Gutierrez’s defence after the incident and some former retail and restaurant employees empathised with his experience of dealing with difficult customers.

With so many donations pouring in from across the globe, Gutierrez said he plans on using the money to pursue his ambition of becoming a dancer.

“With this donation, I can make these dreams a reality. I can fuel my passion even better now.”

Reference