Heartwarming online response after young Starbucks worker shamed over mask request

·3-min read

A Starbucks barista who an upset customer tried to name and shame online has had the last laugh after a “virtual tip jar” raised over $100,000 for the young cafe worker.

Lenin Gutierrez was working his shift in a San Diego Starbucks when he refused to serve a customer who wasn’t wearing a face mask.

Under a public health mandate, everyone in San Diego County must be wearing a face covering when in public, with the only expedition being for a medical reason.

“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,” the annoyed woman posted on Facebook on June 22, tagging the Starbucks location and posting a photo of the barista wearing a mask.

'Meet Lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask'. Source: Facebook
'Meet Lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask'. Source: Facebook

The post quickly went viral with many dubbing her “Karen” - internet slang for an entitled white woman, for threatening to call the police over such a trivial matter.

She was also accused of bullying the staff member who was just following what was required of him.

When Matt Cowan, from Orange County, saw the Facebook post he decided he wanted to do something nice for the young barista, so he created what he called a “virtual tip jar” for Mr Gutierrez on GoFundMe with an original goal of raising $1000 for him.

The fundraiser is titled “Tips for Lenin Standing Up to a San Diego Karen.”

Just over a week after the fundraiser started, more than $100,000 has been raised for Mr Gutierrez with people siding with the young barista for standing his ground.

“Everybody is rallying around somebody for doing what they’re supposed to do and trying to protect everyone else,” Mr Cowan told KGTV.

“It just goes to show you there are a lot of good people out there and that outweighs the bad.”

Mr Gutierrez told ABC he was in shock at how much money had been raised and he plans to use it to help fund his future.

“This has opened so many doors for me, it’s insane,” he said.

Source: Facebook/GoFundMe
Lenin Gutierrez told ABC he was in shock at how much money had been raised and he plans to use it to help fund his future. Source: Facebook/GoFundMe

Mr Gutierrez said he has met with a financial adviser to help him with the unexpected money and plans to get his degree in kinesiology, while also donating some of the money to charity, so he can pay back the kindness strangers have shown him.

“I can’t be grateful enough, I want to show everybody respect - alright you believed in me, you want me to accomplish my dreams, thank you so much and I will accomplish it because everyone showed me kindness so now I have to show it back,” a grateful Mr Gutierrez said.

The woman who originally tried to shame the barista has since deleted her post but remains unapologetic and told NBC 7 she is entitled to some of the money raised and will take legal action over the creator of the fundraiser for defamation and slander.

“I never threatened him, I just called him out on his actions,” the woman said, claiming she has received death threats since the post went viral.

According to NBC 7 the woman claimed she bought coffee two days earlier at the same Starbucks location without wearing a mask and said she believes face masks are ineffective.

Public Health officials in San Diego said businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone not complying with the public health order.

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