Lenin Gutierrez, 24, was working his usual shift at a San Diego Starbucks on Monday morning when a woman – who was not wearing a mask – walked in and attempted to place an order, he told CNN.
Gutierrez asked her if she had a face mask – but before he was even able to show her company guidelines requiring customers to wear one, the woman flipped him off and “started cursing up a storm,” he said.
Then the customer, Amber Lynn Gilles, took a photo of him.
Gilles did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Rather than generate more backlash toward Gutierrez, Gilles’ Facebook post actually led to an outpouring of support for the barista.
“When I realized that it was I just thought ‘wow, she really blasted me on Facebook,'” Gutierrez told CNN. “I started reading the comments and just laughed at the memes people created about this ‘encounter in the wild.'”
A kind of gesture that would change his life
Many people voiced their support for Gutierrez in comments on Gilles’ post, with some saying they wish they could visit the coffee shop to give him a special tip.
Among those moved by the post: Matt Cowan.
The 26-year-old, who didn’t know Gutierrez personally, said he was upset that the barista was “bullied for doing the right thing.”
“People aren’t asking you to do a lot, they’re asking you to wear a mask for your safety and the safety of others,” Cowan told CNN. “Starbucks has also set up other ways to get coffee if you’re not comfortable wearing a mask.”
The campaign’s initial goal was $ 1,000 – but less than a week later, thousands of people had donated nearly $ 80,000.
“I thought it was heartwarming to see Matt create a GoFundMe for me, even though we didn’t know each other,” Gutierrez said.
“I felt baffled and honored to receive so much support and love when it was at $ 1,000. The fact that it has now gone over $ 65,000, I don’t know how to truly vocalize how grateful and blessed I feel with this opportunity everyone has given me. . “
Gutierrez said he plans to use some of the GoFundMe money to pursue his dream of becoming a dancer. He also wants to donate to some organizations in the San Diego community.
Covid cases continue to rise
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported a single day increase of 5,972 positive cases of coronavirus, with 60 deaths from Friday to Saturday, according to an update released Saturday morning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone “wear a covered face cloth when they have to go out in public” to reduce transmission and slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is highly contagious.
A spokesperson for the County of San Diego told CNN that businesses determine if they want to serve customers who do not wear face masks, and can choose to accommodate them with to-go orders or curbside services.
According to Starbucks, many locations – depending on local mandates – allow customers who aren’t wearing masks to order at the drive-thru or use mobile order and pay to pick up their oder at the front door. They can also order delivery.
“We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores,” a Starbucks spokesperson told CNN in a statement. “We respectfully request customers to follow the social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores.”
CNN’s Andrea Kane, Allen Kim, Artemis Moshtaghian, Jamie Ehrlich, Alison Main and Rebecca Grandahl contributed to this report.