Starbucks: Shut Up, I'm Recording The Celtics Game!

In the era of sports Tivoing, Starbucks baristas are powerless to avoid having the game ruined by thoughtless, chatty customers… or are they? Apparently, one Boston-area barista is fighting back. Do think this worked?

The sign reads:


Please try not to talk about the Celtics game. I am recording it and watching it when I get home tonight. I would really prefer to not know the outcome ahead of time.


An extra bold request [Passive Aggressive Notes]
(Photo: Passive Aggressive Notes )


Edit Your Comment

  1. ByeBye says:

    I’d be the first one to spoil it for the guy

  2. bouldr1 says:

    Funny. I’m sure some asshat said something just because he put the sign up though.

  3. ChipMcDougal says:

    I suppose the generosity of the customers depends on the quality of service provided. If I got a cold cup of coffee, I might feel the sudden urge to talk about sports.

  4. timmus says:

    There is no way I would post a sign like this if I worked there, because someone is going to ruin it, either because they like making trouble, because they disagree with the sign on principle, or because they’re one of those people who doesn’t read anything.

    I respect the wishes of the person who posted the sign, after all, everyone is human and if I’m in there it’s just to get some damn coffee, but I lay good odds that the cat got let out of the bag quickly.

  5. TMMadman says:

    It wouldn’t matter anyway because 95% of the people that walk in the door won’t read the sign anyway.

    I know this because I worked at a gas station for a while and on really windy days we would have to put a ‘USE OTHER DOOR’ sign on one of the doors. I would laugh every time someone tried to use the locked door and I would laugh even harder when they tried to use the same door on the way out.

  6. Russell's old room says:

    A threat to throw hot coffee in the offender’s face may have helped.

  7. Chongo says:

    and then he was fired…

  8. Bladefist says:

    I’ll never understand professional sports. Sit there for 3 hours, watching a game. When you could watch sports center, see the highlights, and be done in 30 mins, and on with your life.

    I’m wondering if this note is from one of my friends. They are that nuts about sports as well

  9. GoSpursGo says:


  10. I don’t see anything wrong with a polite request & explanation like that.

  11. jamesdenver says:

    So what? Appease him. Its a polite note and a friendly request from a fellow person in society. It has nothing to do with Starbucks – except that its a personal note placed in his corporate environment.

    I have two co-workers that record tennis matches and go home and watch them. I see the headlines blown up on CNN and Drudge – but I don’t mouth off Andy Roddick’s latest serve to them.

    Sure you could go blow it for them out of spite for treating their Starbucks retail position in a controlling haughty manner – but why be a dick?

  12. SkokieGuy says:

    The barista has his sign but where do the customers get to post a sign:

    Please do NOT force me to order in Freitalian and if I ask for a large black coffee, restrain your need to restate my order in Starbucks-speak.

  13. tptcat says:

    At least they said “Please” and “Thanks”.

  14. Ringl says:

    The person who does mouth off probably gets an extra ingredient in his or her coffee.

  15. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I live in Boston and am curious which store the sign is in.

  16. Toof_75_75 says:

    HAHA Awesome.

  17. ZekeSulastin says:

    @SkokieGuy: Yes, because I’m certain he’s rendering it in SBtalk because he’s an asshole and not because that’s what their computers likely say … oh wait …

    Someone puts up a polite and reasonable request and gets flogged for it here. Gotta love slow news days at the Consumerist …

  18. backbroken says:

    @Bladefist: Well, you COULD watch sportscenter for the highlights, assuming the team you cared about was based in Boston, New York, or Los Angeles. Otherwise, the 40 seconds the use to cover the rest of America is less than satisfying.

  19. @Bladefist: You’re right – forget the great works of Shakespeare – we have Cliff Notes to get us on with our lives!

  20. evslin says:

    @Bladefist: I’ll never understand reading books. Sit there for 3 days, reading a book. When you could go to the bookstore, get the Cliffs Notes version, and be done in 30 mins, and on with your life.

    You’re not required to understand random_leisure_activity_025 if it’s not your thing…

  21. Beat you to it evslin…great minds, though…right?

  22. bobpence says:

    It’s a short and slippery slope from “don’t tell me how the game turned out” to “don’t express any thoughts or opinons not approved by the Lord High Censorbarista!”

  23. @bobpence: Bob, you’re right – free-thinking, freedom-loving Americans should have marched to that Starbucks spouting the entire box score!

  24. Bladefist says:

    @InfiniTrent: lol I knew that would get some people fired up. However you’re comparing shakespeare to idiots running around throwing a ball in a hoop. :)

    I’m just messing around. Ignore me.

  25. pecheckler says:

    That’s piss poor customer service.

  26. smallestmills says:

    Playoff season is worse than xmas. In Detroit the stores are dead and the only people shopping are trying to get away while we employees have to be tortured by not watching the game and getting phone calls at the end of every quarter. I would gladly work all the major holidays so the store could be closed on playoff nights. Thank god for west coast games.

  27. warf0x0r says:

    I appreciate the spirit of that letter. I’ve had that happen to me when I’ve worked in the service industry. Best solution tho… don’t work in the service industry!

  28. homerjay says:

    My friend recorded that NASCAR race only to have it ruined by a toll taker! A TOLL TAKER! Crazy stuff…

  29. sean77 says:

    My co-workers know not to talk about Lost until everyone has seen the most recent episode.

  30. Basketball and NASCAR: Watch the last five minutes and call it good.

  31. @Bladefist: I know you couldn’t be completely serious.

  32. @Ash78: Ash, the last five minutes of a basketball game is the worst part, what, with all the intentional fouling and free-throw shooting in most close games…

    It’s the one imperfection in a nearly perfect game, if you ask me. And I know you are!

  33. suzapalooza says:

    HE HE HE…Do female sports fans not exist??

    and IT’S A GAME – get over it.

  34. Kajj says:

    Logical Fallacy

    Anyway, I thought the letter was cute. I like running across absurd little notes on doorways.

  35. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    We are all witnesses… unless you work in Starbucks.

    For God’s sake, the place has wi-fi. Set up your laptop in back, go to, or bluetooth your radio.

  36. gnappulicious says:

    smart move, barista. everyone knows not to eff with a boston sports fan!

  37. VikingP77 says:

    Wow…ballsy….I’m surprised the manager allowed that considering how corporate those places are!

  38. joellevand says:

    @bobpence: Slippery slope arguments = fail.

  39. SVreader says:

    Consumerist: Shut up, service workers, we don’t think you’re human!

  40. Techguy1138 says:

    This sign was posted in Boston. They are serious about their sports. So long as he liked the ‘right’ team I’m sure the manager supported ’em.

  41. nsv says:

    If it’s that important, instead of controlling the conversations of all the customers who come in, take the day off.

    Some of those customers may actually be pretty excited about the game. “Hey, did you see when he… whoops, sorry, can’t talk about it here.”

  42. thalia says:

    That’s funny, because when you post a sign that just makes people more likely to spoil it for the lulz.

  43. MeOhMy says:

    @SkokieGuy: Except it seems highly unlikely that the barista either created the Starbucks lingo OR cares to enforce it.

    He does (hopefully) care that he gets you what you actually wanted when you said “Large black coffee” instead of ordering based on what the menu says. You’re not sticking it to Big Coffee when you do this, you are just making it harder for the guy who is just trying to do his job.

  44. urban_ninjya says:

    LoL.. must be one of those guys that go… “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I can’t hear you LA LA LA LA LA LA” at the first mention of the basketball or celtics.

  45. LJKelley says:

    The difference is a book is a book with a ton of words that all have meanings and submeanings and is why I reread books. If you really like sports you would be interested in seeing the moves and not care if you knew the outcome just like I generally know that a Mary Higgen Clark books is not gonna end with the main character dead.

    But we also have to understand hobbies and that to some people get worked up over a game and as thoe points progresses is their way of relaxing… But in reality get over yourself, you DO NOT have a right to tell people they can’t talk about X in your store, especially a coffee place where generally people will go for a coffee so that they can TALK.

  46. chiieddy says:

    Too bad we don’t know which one it was. My husband is about to be placed in his Boston area store. I’d like to know in advance if he’s dealing with this level of idiocy at his location.

    He had to pull aside a barista at one of the locations we were at this weekend because she was such a tool it could not be ignored. I don’t think she’s long for the company.

  47. Mr. Guy says:

    TIvoing live sports is lame. even if i don’t know the outcome, knowing that the game has already happened makes it less exciting.

    just watch it on TV like everybody else, and if you have to miss it, be a man about it.

    think of it this way- if your team loses, then you are better off for not having watched the whole game just to be disappointed.

    IF they win, they live to play another day, which you can hopefully watch on TV in real time.

  48. shortandsweet says:

    @SkokieGuy: When you go to a resturant do you order what the menu says or do you tell the owner to change the wording to something different to suit you? Starbucks partners try to educate their customers on how to order so that the customer doesn’t feel intimidated by the menu.
    If you have ever been to a coffeehouse in Italy (which is where the Starbucks CEO spent time before he bought the company)you would see the same wording.
    At least Starbucks cares enough to try to educate their customers.
    DD’s commercials imply that they think their customers are too stupid to learn the word “Venti”.

  49. j-yo says:

    It’s obviously a move not approved by Corporate, so I love it!

  50. thesabre says:

    @Bladefist: Well, good luck getting more than 10 seconds of NHL on SportsCenter, or in any other medium for that matter. Even now during playoffs the coverage is sparse.

    In the first round of the playoffs when there were 5 or 6 series that went into 7 games, SportsCenter had a whopping 2-3 minutes of hockey coverage.

  51. FightOnTrojans says:

    Wow, I can’t believe the level of hostility that is directed to this guy or gal. The person is making a simple request, which, judging by some of the responses, I’m sure someone was more than willing to be a d*ck about and blurt it out. It’s not like he or she was asking to see your receipt on the way out. C’mon, people, this isn’t corporate censorship or a slippery slope. Get over yourselves. I, as a fellow sports nut, would honor this request. Go Lakers!

  52. BII says:

    He/She did ask politely, it wasn’t like it was a demand or anything.

    And I ask people all the time to not spoil _____ for me (movie, show or whatever) since I usually see AFTER it happens, because I’m working.

  53. sam says:

    @FightOnTrojans: I can! It’s standard here at this site.
    @pecheckler: How so?

  54. FrugalFreak says:

    Another example of someone not knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around them or what they like. I would have been one of the spoilers. Not that sports or sport fans matter much to me anyways. How people put that much enthusiasm into merely a game when they could put it toward something meaningful in life always amazes me.

  55. Craig says:

    It’s completely inappropriate for a store employee to request that the customers inconvenience themselves for his or her sake no matter how politely they do so…@FrugalFreak is right on the money. If I were to come across a sign like that I’d simply take my business elsewhere. (After taking a photo and sending it to SB corporate.)

  56. Benny Gesserit says:

    @TheManator: Not unless I spoil it first.

  57. rbb says:

    Just in case he hasn’t heard yet, “Rosebud” was his sled…

  58. Lambasted says:

    I think we’ve all been in a position where we asked our coworkers, friends or family not to spoil a movie or show for us. But to ask the entire public not to talk about something just for you is way over the top. I personally would not appreciate some stranger walking up to me, or putting up a note, asking me not to talk in earshot of him. And if it was an establishment making the request (or an employee acting on its behalf as in this case), it would certainly put a bad taste in my mouth regarding future visits to that particular establishment.

    Starbucks is not this employee’s personal livingroom where he can dictate (or request) what people should or should not converse about, regardless of how innocent or harmless the request may be.

    He should be reprimanded immediately.

  59. james says:

    He is dead right, good for him. I hope it worked and no one was a complete dick to ruin it for him. As for being reprimanded, get a life.

  60. bobfromboston says:

    Very few of you live in Boston, apparently. The barista was having some semi-serious fun with the sports-crazed fans in our area. I guarantee nobody there was offended.

    You have to know your audience. And you folks have to stop taking yourselves so damned seriously. Lighten up!

  61. seamer says:

    It was a simple request, not “poor customer service” as some readers liked ti point out.

  62. witeowl says:

    On the one hand, I sympathize with the writer and his/her intent. I even let out a little “aww”. Out loud. Really.

    On the other hand, what about the customers who wanted to hang out and talk about whatever strikes their fancy? They, being decent folk, should now feel pressured to censor their discussions in a public meeting place? Sorry. Starbucks is a business and people should feel free to have all sorts of typical conversations.

    On the third (yes, the third hand): whatever you do, don’t think about flat basketballs. Don’t do it! No flat basketballs. Now, what was it you wanted to talk about?

  63. flidget says:

    I doubt anyone spoiled it for him. It’s Boston – the playoffs are serious business.

  64. Smashville says:

    It’s obviously the person buying the coffee’s fault. What? No blame the consumer posts?

  65. Rajio says:

    “Shut up” and “Please” are at opposite ends of the manners spectrum. The note does not say “Shut up”

  66. TheNewDecider says:

    Yuck foo, Charlie

  67. Dustbunny says:

    Jeez, I can’t believe the meanness and humorlessness of some of the replies…did someone run over your dog today, or what??

    I don’t care about sports, but I’ve asked all my co-workers not to say anything about Battlestar Galactica around me because I still haven’t gotten last season’s DVDs from Netflix.

  68. ibelli says:

    Nah. Obviously none of yall are from Boston. There is an honor code around sports. No one would have talked.

  69. Landru says:

    I think if the person just wrote a nice note and put it up at the beginning of the line, nobody would be offended.

  70. Parting says:

    @FrugalFreak: Yes, instead of sport, you prefer consumerist. Your attitude is simply rude.

    Each person deserve respect toward their hobby. So maybe you should do something more useful than commenting this article. Ooups, I’m being redundant.

  71. drjayphd says:

    @Bladefist: Because you’d like to see what happened rather than be bombarded by fourth-rate catchphrases and unfunny jokes*?

    Editor’s note: Scott Van Pelt, Kenny Mayne, John Buccigross and Neil Everett are exempt, due to actually being entertaining.

  72. Parting says:

    @Lambasted: Feeling cranky today?

  73. drjayphd says:

    @ZekeSulastin: Slow news days? Around these parts, that’s being merciful to Ye Olde Barista…e.

  74. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    @Bladefist: Are you a homo?

  75. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Bladefist is known for saying stupid things.

    And hey, he did say please right?

  76. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Don’t flatter yourself, because no one is “fired up” at your stupid comments, we’re just annoyed with them.

  77. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Oh my God some of you people need to get a life. Sending a note to SB corporate? You people are the definition of “asshole.”

  78. Death says:

    Is it that hard not to talk about a game while ordering a coffee if politely asked? Is it that hard not to be a dick?
    Apparently yes.

  79. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Perfectly reasonable request, and you’re a jackass if you ruin it for this guy.

    The barista is doing his job and doesn’t want his entertainment ruined.

  80. Lambasted says:

    @Victo: As if today is any different than any other day. LOL!

    Hey, give me some credit though. I did stopped short of calling for his head. No one should be sent to the guillotine until at least their second absurd request infraction.

  81. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    The guy asked nicely, so I’d oblige.

  82. Tucco says:

    I’d like a grande, extra hot, cavs 88 celtics 77. Oh, and one blueberry muffin.

  83. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I think it’s kinda cute.

  84. forgottenpassword says:

    boy! an employee has some serious balls to put up a sign like this towards customers!

    In the average workplace this would get you written up(or at least bitched at) by the boss in a heartbeat!

    Sorry but in the service industries (like serving coffee to people), you just dont make trivial requests of your customers like this.

    I gotta deal with similar things like this when i tape a particular TV show I like. But I just deal with the accidental spoilers like you are supposed to. I would NEVER tell/request a customer to not talk about something.

    BTW…. I’d ruin it for him just because he had the balls to ask me not to talk about it. And just because people are such fanatics about sports.

  85. Hambriq says:

    I “don’t get” sports so it’s okay for me to ruin someone’s day just for a cheap thrill. Right?

    God bless the internet.

  86. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @shortandsweet: Starbucks trying to ‘educate’ us?
    Are you serious? How long have you worked there?

    The only VENTI thing at Starbucks is the arrogance. BTW, their coffee-flavored beverages are teh suck. rulez.

  87. Papagoose says:

    @TheManator: Why? I think the sign is in poor taste and pretty unprofessional, but would it make you happy to ruin it for him?

    I have several TV shows that I like to watch, but I am not home when they are on, so I record them. I have a coworker who knows this – and delights in coming in and spoiling the endings for me. He even admits he doesn’t really watch the shows, he just thinks it’s funny to ruin the endings for me.

  88. SomeoneElseNotMe says:

    The sign is unprofessional and rude.

    Unfortunately, the sales clerks (“baristas”) at Starbucks seem to think they’re entitled to dictate the customer’s experience — you must order this way or we complain that you’re stupid, you must tip or we’ll spit in your drink (both documented on a well-known SBX gossip site) . . . and now, you may only discuss specific, approved topics.

    Somehow, I’m not surprised their business is off and stock prices are in the terlet.

  89. stephenjames716 says:

    I was in this same boat for the past 4 years when I lived in LA and tried to follow Buffalo Sabres hockey by recording it while I was at work and watching it when I got home later. It worked fine at first, but then when we started making national television appearances that all went out the door…

  90. Juggernaut says:

    Terminator XVII – The Commentator Wars

  91. backbroken says:

    @homerjay: If you record a NSACAR race, does it make it more exciting if you watch it on fast forward?

    Couldn’t you just set up a camera on the local interstate and watch that on fast forward?

  92. halftank says:

    1. It’s Boston

    2. Don’t eff with people who make your food

  93. Bladefist says:

    @gomakemeasandwich: wouldn’t annoyed be fired up?

    @stanfrombrooklyn: everyone who doesn’t watch sports is a homo? so you just watch it to prove to yourself your not?

  94. carlosdelvaca says:

    I tried this during the World Cup a few years back–I put a sign on my office door saying “Please do not talk to me about the USA-Mexico game.”

    A co-worker came by my office and said, “Why, are you a Mexico fan?”, thereby pretty much giving it away. Thanks, dude.

  95. gnappulicious says:


    finally, someone who understands! the fact that this sign makes perfect sense to people from boston is what makes me miss my hometown so much (relocated for grad school). putting up this kind of sign is absolutely NOT rude, and if people who go into the store are offended, chances are high that:

    1. they are not from boston nor massachusetts;

    2. they need to pull the wrench out of their @$$;

    3. they are mentally ill;

    4. THEY are the ones who are self-centered. yeah, you heard me right.

    since i’m not in my car to end this post on a boston high note (aka a long, hard BEEP): eff the haters!!

  96. backbroken says:

    I love how the folks from Boston in this thread have anointed themselves “World’s Greatest Sports Fans.”

    Yes, the world revolves around you!

    I kid.

    Not really.

  97. bvita says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that this is a Boston area Starbucks. I travel all over the country and found that, for the most part, the Starbucks folks were somewhat friendly.

    My wife and I used to spend an average of $300/month at Starbucks, mostly at the local branch in Peabody. After being called on the carpet by the store manager for allegedly making an off-color comment to one of the baristas, and subsequently getting ignored all the way up the corporate ladder when I tried to persue the matter to confront the allegation, they can tuck their $3600/year. No small wonder that they’re down 22% in sales.

    Oh yeah, the comment was an apology for making the barista wait while I was fumbling to get coins out of my pocket. “Its tough to get change out of (the pocket of) tight jeans”. The jeans were my own.

  98. Goodnightbabytron says:

    I love all the angry gnomes saying both “I’d ruin it for him” and “I don’t follow sports anyway!” It’s clearly a game going on while people are in the store or just ended recently. Those gnomes don’t know what happened anyway. The people who do know are fans and probably are just happy to meet a barista who is also a fan. They won’t ruin it for him.

  99. sophistiKate says:

    So, for those of you who think it’s OK to request that customers not talk about the game, what if the topic he didn’t like were children? Could he ask you not to talk about children – your children, having children, something some child did – while in the store? What if it were sports in general? What if it were politics? These are all things I don’t want to hear about in the work place, but it would be grossly inappropriate for me to even just request of my customers that they not discuss these things. That’s precisely what customer service is about – putting the needs of the customer ahead of my own.

  100. darkryd says:

    He’s guaranteed to get more people talking about the game by mentioning it in a sign like that.

    He would have been better off not saying anything.

  101. danno99 says:

    Back in 2001 when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, my brother and I decided that even though we are die hard Sox fans, we decided that we would purposely NOT watch the game because of all the suffering in the past (Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner)and we didn’t want to be heart broken again. We went to a Barnes and Nobles at 8:00 and quietly read and shopped for books. We decided to get a coffee at the instore Starbucks and while in line a huge roar went up in the back room! Johnny Damon had just hit a grand slam and all the employee were in the back room watching it on portable black and white TV! Boston fans and baristas are very passionate about their sports, and the Sox went on to win their first world series a few days later.

  102. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Wow, some people are mean. Let the guy enjoy life.

  103. notallcompaniesareevil says:


    Back in 2001 when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Game 7 of the AL… and the Sox went on to win their first world series a few days later.

    Boston fans may be passionate, but you should recheck your sources. The Sox won the series in 2004, not 2001.

  104. BoilerBob says:

    I had the 2004 series taped but didn’t get around to watching it yet. Thanks for spoiling the ending.

  105. BoilerBob says:


    I think there’s a huge difference between “don’t talk about a topic I don’t like” and “Please let me watch a specific event without spoilers”. I’ve found that I get better customer service by being a good customer than by assuming I’m the most important person in the world because I’m buying a $2 cup of coffee.

  106. mmejanvier says:

    I need to try this next week,
    “Dear Customers,

    I do not have cable, and as such have to wait until somebody uploads the latest episode of ANTM onto Surf the Channel. Now while I hope to God that bitch Whitney gets sent home, I would prefer it if you did not reveal who was eliminated thise week.

    Thank you. (Team Anya!)

  107. sophistiKate says:

    @BoilerBob: I disagree. I don’t think his reason for not wanting to hear the topic is relevant given his position.

  108. LaRocque says:

    I actually wrote that note. It worked. I had headphones for the T to and from work, which I think was key. It was the game 7 against Atlanta, so I was happy when I watched it after returning home.

  109. swagv says:


    Dear Starbucks customer: I may be the one getting paid out of the two of us right now, but do not inconvenience me with your talk of sports or any other topic of interest to you. You must command to my conveniences or else I’ll piss in your vanilla caramel macchiato.

  110. LaRocque says:

    Also, in all of these stories that have been written about it, I have read a lot of negative comments saying that I was rude to customers and that I should be punished. I would just like to point out that I talk sports with our regular customers everyday, so this was not suprising to them. And, many of them thought it was funny. It actually got a lot of customers who usually are pretty reserved talking and joking with us. It wasn’t taken as a hostile sign at all. In fact, there are many customers that I interact more now because of that day.

  111. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    I cannot believe that so many people, here and elsewhere, feel like they need to ruin someone’s day just because he works behind a counter. Too many times with this site, as soon as someone puts on a literal or figurative employee hat, he is no longer human. Why do we not feel the need to treat people with respect just because we are paying them for something? If they are jerks to you first, by all means, go to town. But if they make a request to simply delay talking about something, is that so much to ask? Is that really a huge sacrifice? Too much of a sacrifice to ruin someone’s day over?

  112. angrycandy says:

    you go barista!

  113. b-real says:


    I’m happy that it worked out for you! There are some truly spiteful and rude people on this board who would spoil a game for their own personal amusement.

    To those who say the sign itself was rude: get over yourselves! It’s up to the customer to decide whether or not to comply with a polite request (which is a far cry from a mandate). That’s why the title of this post is misleading (PLEASE and SHUT UP! are two entirely different things).

    To those who say it’s just a game: would it have been any different if someone tells you not to ruin the ending to a book? Do you think that people who like sports are beneath those who enjoy literature? What about people who like both? Grow up and act your age.

  114. JCookie7 says:


    LaRocque, I’m the one who took this picture! I thought it was hilarious, and was not put off in anyway. I just can’t believe how many people were annoyed by it!

  115. VnlaThndr775 says:

    Don’t ruin it for the Celtics fan! The Lakers will do that for him when they meet in the finals! :)