A Starbucks barista, who was shamed by a customer for asking her to wear a mask, has won public sympathy by receiving over $80,000 in virtual tips after a Facebook post that criticized him went viral. The barista, who works at one of the Starbucks cafes in San Diego, California, has been praised for his responsibility, while the customer, Amber Lynn Gilles, a California woman, has instead drawn flak for not following the coronavirus safety guidelines.

In San Diego, health authorities have made it compulsory for anyone above the age of two to wear a mask whenever they step outside their homes. Gilles not only failed to follow the guidelines but also threatened to take police help if she felt discriminated against.

A Surprise Reward

When Gilles, a yoga instructor and social activist, walked into the café and wanted to order for coffee without wearing a mask, Gutierrez asked her to wear the mask. He tried to show her the company and San Diego public health department's mandate on face masks.

Gilles instead "started cursing up a storm," said Gutierrez. She then took a photograph of the barista and left the café. Sometime later, Gilles posted Gutierrez's photo on Facebook and wrote: "Meet Lenen 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."

Gilles wrote the post with the intention of shaming Gutierrez but the Starbucks barista ended up earning $83,000 in the form of virtual tips as social media users appreciated his actions and started calling Gilles irresponsible for her actions.

Gilles's Action Backfires

Lenin Gutierrez
Lenin Gutierrez thanking his supporters on Facebook CNN

Gilles tried to clarify in her post that she had a medical reason for not putting on a mask but didn't give further details. Thousands of Facebook users immediately jumped in the barista's defense, with some even suggesting Gilles that if she didn't want to wear a mask, she could have gone to a Starbucks drive-thru cafe.

One of the users, Matt Cowan, wrote that he was really upset that the barista was being "bullied for executing the correct detail" and started GoFundMe and named the campaign "Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen" urging everyone who wanted to tip Gutierrez to do so virtually.

Cowen put up a target of $1,000 but the campaign has fetched Gutierrez more than $83,000, with additions being made every minute. Gutierrez later uploaded a Facebook video thanking everyone for "all the love and support. "It's been so helpful and so shocking to see something get so big that only happened within a few minutes," Gutierrez said.

Gilles, since then, has doubled down on her stance and later in another Facebook post wrote: "I am not scarred or bothered by your ignorant fraud ass's, not so sorry you losers got nothing better to do. thanks for the ratings... you all act like the terrorist organization you are."

Meet lenen 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.

Posted by Amber Lynn Gilles on Monday, 22 June 2020
Amber Lynn Gilles' Facebook post shaming Lenin Gutierrez Facebook