English Professor: I Was Booted From Starbucks Over Bagel Linguistics

For some customers, Starbucks’ very particular lexicon is a source of anxiety and possibly even anger. But it wasn’t having to order a “venti” or a “tall” that drove a NYC college professor into an argument at a Manhattan Starbucks over the weekend. Instead, it was her refusal to tell an employee what she didn’t want on her bagel.

“I just wanted a multigrain bagel,” the woman told The NY Post. “I refused to say ‘without butter or cheese.’ When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want… Linguistically, it’s stupid, and I’m a stickler for correct English.”

According to the professor, she was then told she wouldn’t get anything at all unless she specified that she wanted neither butter nor cheese on her bagel.

“I yelled, ‘I want my multigrain bagel!'” she said. “The barista said, ‘You’re not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!'”

The debate escalated to the point where the manager contacted the police. The professor says the officers told her they would have to arrest her if she refused to leave.

The Post also spoke to a Starbucks employee who witnessed the incident. “She would not answer. It was a reasonable question,” the worker said. “She called [the barista] an a–hole.”

Could this situation have been resolved better by the employee and manager? Was the professor just causing a scene? Would you like butter or cheese on that?

Venti-size fury [NY Post]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Watcher95 says:

    Shop somewhere else?

    • denros says:

      in NYC, I would have said that even if they handed it to her on a silver platter whilst doing a little curtsy.

    • OPRAH says:

      Seriously, Starbucks isn’t Burger King. You can’t have it your way!

      • Bunnies Attack! says:

        Err no, I they would have given it to her without butter or cheese, she just refused to say “without butter or cheese” because it “wasn’t proper english”.

        • JustLurking says:

          But apparently, calling the barista an asshole is proper. Nice.

          • DimTwinkle says:

            She must have slipped in her attempt to step out of the tower and tumbled all the way to the bottom.

        • DimTwinkle says:

          Proper English? Believe it or not, I am a reasonably bright person but I haven’t spent much time studying “proper English” in over 35 years. Not only have I forgotten much of what I once knew but things have changed since then. I try to pay attention so I don’t get scolded when I post online and so I can communicate well with my audience. No doubt my communication skills could use some improvement.

          So I might shudder inside when I hear “I seen. . .” but I don’t try to correct the speaker unless it’s a kid I know well. I have too much respect for most people to be that insulting and it’s the message that matters to me.

          An English professor (probably associate professor but they get away with that little “slip”) would be better off spending her time teaching or writing or doing whatever it is that makes her feel better than the people serving her. That same professor should also understand that, ultimately, the point of communicating is to effectively and efficiently get their point across. Sometimes that means stepping out of the ivory tower and speaking in a way that achieves their goal.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      Yeah, the professor definitely chose the wrong hill on which to die. They were trying to find out what she wanted and she chose to unleash her fury because the minimum wage workers of the world aren’t capable of telepathy.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      But- but- this is New York! There is nowhere else to get a bagel. Starbuck’s is it!

      Seriously, my biggest objection to this insanity is that someone in Manhattan was buying the crap that passes for bagels at a Starbuck’s in the first damn place.

  2. Pepster says:

    Spot on analysis of the Barista.

    Anyone who insist on overcomplicating the order of a baked good deserves a little extra rage-y goodness.

    • c!tizen says:

      Agreed. The professer is right, you don’t tell people what you don’t want on your food unless it’s specifically made with something you don’t want. “Multigrain bagel” is a pretty straight forward request. I probably would have been a jass-ass before I would yell though and just give them a grocery list of crap I don’t want on my bagel.

      No cream cheese, butter, mustard, mayo, pickles, onion, salmon, tartar sauce, beef, perfume, coffee, lotion, flux capacitors, nuclear reactors, space dust, or kittens, but most importantly hold the f%$#king attitude and just give me a plain multigrain bagel, dickhead!

      • Dunkelzahn says:

        What’s wrong with your arguement is that the bagel comes with butter or cream cheese included in the price. Is the professor too lazy to say ‘PLAIN multi-grain bagel’?

      • angienessyo says:

        And her argument is stupid because I ALWAYS have to tell what I don’t want at any restaurant or fast food place I go to. If that Starbucks location puts a topping on the bagel you should probably say you don’t want a topping instead of getting upset and rude.

      • Doubts42 says:

        at which point as a customer service rep i would politely inform you that i did not appreciate your abusive and profane language and ask you to leave my store. Now if you were mature enough to leave off the last sentence then i would have laughed and given you the plain bagel.

      • Charmander says:

        From the article:

        Rosenthal admitted she had run into trouble before for refusing to employ the chain’s stilted lexicon — balking at ordering a “tall” or a “venti” from the menu or specifying “no whip.”

        Instead, she insists on making a pest of herself by ordering a “small” or “large” cup of joe.

        Sounds like she goes there specifically to be an ass.

        • Big Mama Pain says:

          I don’t order according to the size chart at Starbucks, and I’ve never taken any flak for it. In fact, it gives the losers that are so proud to work there a chance to feel smug because I must be too much of an idiot to figure out the sizes. (And I’m sorry; if you’re a Starbucks barista that doesn’t take issue, you’re the exception to the “losers” comment-I’m referring to the ones that actually give a shit about the stupid size names)

          • ben says:

            I’ve never seen a single Starbucks employee care how the customers refer to the drink sizes.

          • Charmander says:

            I always just order a “12 oz.” latte or drip or whatever it is that I’m getting, because that’s the size I want. I don’t say tall or venti or whatever, and I’ve also never had a problem.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          I’ve never had any Starbucks barista get into any huffy fit because I asked for a “large” coffee, as opposed to a “grande.” I’m sure they’re trained to not make a scene over it.

      • regenerator says:

        As someone who worked at Starbucks (ending in ’05), I will say that odds are if the barista did not ask whether the customer wanted butter or cream cheese, that customer would return three minutes later pissed off because he was not given cream cheese. From the professor’s own account of the incident, the barista asked if she would like cream cheese or butter; the professor was not forced to order “bagel, no cream cheese or butter,” but rather to order her bagel, then respond to a follow-up question. As someone else said, the condiments are included in the price of the bagel. The professor sounds like a pain in the ass, plain and simple.

      • Major Annoyance says:

        What would be wrong with, “Just plain please?”.

        You and the prof sharing that hemorrhoid tickler?

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Seriously? You’d go apesh!t over a minimum wage employee asking if you’d like butter or cream cheese on your bagel? I’d seriously look at yourself in the mirror. It’s pretty standard practice at any establishment serving food — either they’re trying to upsell you (“would you like fries with your burger?”) or asking you how you would like the item you’ve ordered (“cream and sugar in your coffee, madam/sir?”) To go ballistic over semantics just makes one shake his/her head. Get over it – just say “no” and be on your way with the item you ordered the way you like it, and not get yourself, the server, and (most importantly) the people waiting in line behind you.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          …lost my train of rage. I ended the last sentence without “getting pissed off.” My bad.

        • Martha Gail says:

          I get the feeling that the lady would have flipped out if she had served her a plain bagel without asking because she didn’t get the “customer service.” No win.

    • GrandizerGo says:

      I agree, if you are at home in your own house do as you see fit. If you are out and dealing with a place that serves thousands of people a day, you conform to their way of doing things, it was probably setup to make their jobs easier.

      Just because you have a degree in a language does not make you all knowledgeable in the service industry.
      That usually happens after you don’t find a job with your degree…

    • Scuba Steve says:

      Cant we all agree that both the Barista with the power trip and the English professor with no sense of social grace are assholes in this case?

      In my day to day communication with people, we order and take orders. I do my best to make sure my conversations are clear, and that I understand everything said to me.

      These two nimrods just had a pissing contest over how to say an order. I’m sorry but there’s something wrong on so many levels here. The professor pissed off a manager and lost a bagel. The manager pissed off a customer and lost a sale. In the end, they both lost because no one got what they wanted.

      • Charmander says:

        I’ve ordered bagels at Starbucks and I’m sorry, but this professor sounds like she had major attitude. How hard it is to say – when you are asked if you want butter or cheese on your bagel – to say, no thanks, just plain.

        But to stand there and refuse to answer? I work in retail, and this customer would have been infuriating. I’m sure I would never have escalated it to a police call, but this is the reason we truly HATE some customers.

        • DingoAndTheBaby says:

          I know where you’re coming from, and I agree that the (associate?) professor was over-the-top, but seriously…Starbucks needs to get over itself. The whole ethnically-confused menu is stupid enough, but the professor had a point: unless it already COMES with butter/cheese, then specifying that you DON’T want it on there is ridiculous.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            How about “Plain Multi-grain Bagel”? Or, for that matter, “Multi-grain Bagel, Plain”?

          • kung fu lola says:

            It probably comes with butter at the very least. Here in Canuckistan, if you order a bagel at Timmy Ho’s, they butter it without anyone having to ask.

          • Kryndar says:

            Well no, because if it doesn’t automatically come with butter or cheese but people order it with the majority of the time I do not at all think it is unresonable to ask, would you like butter or cheese on it. If not just say no, if so then say what it is that you would want. How is this any more annoying than say ordering a burger from a fast food joint and being asked if you want a combo. Although you may not want it I imagine many people will and simply neglected to say combo. I think the same applies here.

          • Conformist138 says:

            I order bagels at Starbucks all the time (or I did, until I looked at the nutrition info and nearly passed out from shock). I would ask, in my case, for a Hawaiian Sweet Bagel. Usually I stated “with cream cheese”, but if I didn’t, the barista would just ask. If asked, I gave an answer. No one ever “forced” me to state what I didn’t want, they just asked if I wanted butter or cream cheese the same as a McDonald’s employee would ask, “Would you like fries with that?”

      • dbeahn says:

        I think it depends. If the Barista said “did you want cheese or butter on that?” and the Prof said “I want a multigrain bagel”, which prompted the Barista to say “I understand you want a multigrain bagel, would you like butter or cheese on that multigrain bagel?” to which the prof yelled, “I want my multigrain bagel YOU ASSHOLE!”, then I’d say the Barista was NOT an asshole.

        The article at the link goes on to say “Rosenthal admitted she had run into trouble before”, which leads me to believe that she was intentionally trying to be an asshole, so good for the barista for standing up to the stick up the ass customer that is intentionally trying to make a hard job even harder.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Reading the article, the barista asked if she wanted cheese or butter. The English prof did NOT say she wanted a “plain multigrain bagel” just a “multigrain bagel”. So, there was NO communication about condiments. Seeing as how a vast majority of people ordering bagels get something put on it, asking the question was fine. Anyone who thinks that this “overcomplicated” the situation has the mental capacity of a 3.5″ floppy.

      What do you think of being asked “Would you like fries with that?” or “Would you like to upgrade to a larger size for $0.85?”

  3. BoC says:

    If Starbucks’ default bagel comes with butter and/or cheese, what’s so difficult about asking for a plain bagel?

    • Snarkster says:

      On the subject of linguistics, I remember when the word “default” meant “failure to act” (“to default on a loan”). It’s interesting how computer usage of the word has taken over for “regular.”

      • domcolosi says:

        It still means the same thing. Unless you act (say you want something different), you get the default result.

      • zmnatz says:

        Default still means “failure to act” in the computer age. The default setting is the setting when you don’t act to change it. So nothing has really changed.

      • tape says:

        The computery version is really just a specific application of the same definition. I think it’s most similar to the legal sense of the word.

        In legal sense, when you fail to appear in court, something happens: the court issues a default judgement, and that default judgement is generally predefined: e.g. someone sues you for $10,000 in damages to their property, you fail to appear in court, the default judgement is that you have to pay the $10,000.

        With a computer, you might type in a command (I find it’s easiest to apply the analogy in the command-line paradigm). The command has a few options you can specify. Take the ‘ls’ command in unix, to display the contents of a directory. You can tell it to list a certain directory (‘ls spreadhseets/2010’ for example), but if you fail to specify, it will default to listing the current directory that you are working in.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Multigrain bagel: plain.

      There, eveyone is happy.

    • eccsame says:

      Normally when I order a bagel, it goes something like this:

      Me: One Raisin bagel, please
      Them: Would you like butter or cream cheese?
      Me: No thanks, just in a bag.

      I wonder what went wrong here?

      • tbax929 says:

        The professor decided to be a douchebag, which doesn’t actually surprise me. I’m glad they tossed her ass out.

        • lim says:

          Probably tenure. I’ve never met a tenured professor who possessed the ability to open their mouth without being an ass.

          • dpeters11 says:

            You must have gone to the wrong school. I’ve known several tenured full professors that were quite pleasant, taught their classes without a TA, and even some that refused to be called Dr and wanted to be referred to by their first name. And this wasn’t even one of the Quaker schools, but Ohio State.

          • Rhizobium says:

            Some tenured profs are class-A jerks. And make it clear that they are “professors”. Many of us don’t advertise that fact widely (I can’t imagine it coming up in conversation outside the university without a very good reason).

            Of course, douchebags always give others of the same profession/group a bad name. And they are the ones we remember – not the nice, considerate folks we encounter day to day.

    • TheRedSeven says:

      How it went–

      Barrista: May I take your order?
      Professor: Multigrain Bagel.
      B: Would you like butter or cheese on that bagel?
      P: I want a multigrain bagel.
      B: I won’t give you anything unless you tell me butter or cheese!
      P: You F***in’ A****** bleep bleep bleep bleep
      B: Calls police

      How it should have gone:
      B: May I take your order?
      P: Multigrain Bagel.
      B: Would you like butter or cheese on that bagel?
      P: No thanks. Just the bagel.
      Pays, gets bagel, leaves.

      • Haezeus says:

        Two point to this. First, when taken like this, calling the police seems like a perfectly ration thing to do, because the barista obviously believed she was dealing with a crazy person. I mean, if someone kept their condiment choice secret, even if I did escalate things a bit, I would seriously be concerned about the customer’s sanity.

        Second, if at any point in your day you make the decision to walk into a Starbucks and have it out with the checkout girl over a bagel, you really need to go over your life choices with a fine-toothed comb to determine just where it all went wrong.

      • mmmsoap says:

        See, your downfall is that you applied logic, courtesy, and general problem-solving to the conflict. Clearly we can’t have that.

      • mikeP says:

        Agreed 100%. If the professor decides to be a butthole and refuses to use their presumably huge brain to come up with an alternative and grammatically correct way to indicate their preference for a lack of toppings, then they can GTFO.

      • plas says:

        More likely this is how it went, keeping in mind that most Starbucks serve either a plain (as in the bread) bagel or a multi-grain bagel. This is also clearly labeled directly in front of the bagels (she’s big on English, not on reading apparently.) It is standard to ask if someone would also like cream cheese or butter with it.

        “I would like a bagel”
        “Sure, multi-grain or plain?”
        “Uh, yea a plain multi-grain bagel.”
        “Would you like cream cheese or butter with that?”
        “I. WANT. A. BAGEL.”
        “Yes but would you like cream cheese or butter with it?”
        Customer flips out and refuses to calm down

      • daninjax says:

        Actually, it could be quicker if she just said “May I have a plain multigrain bagel, please”

    • trentblase says:

      I agree that in this situation, it’s pretty straightforward. But I often have similar problems with ordering:

      At Burger King, etc. if you ask for a Whopper, they ask if you want a meal or just the sandwich. If you try to speed up the process by ordering a “Whopper Sandwich” they STILL ask you if you want the meal. This is annoying… if I wanted the meal, then that’s what I’d order. Do they really have trouble with people asking for a Whopper and then being mad that they didn’t get a Whopper meal??

      At In ‘n Out, the default configuration for a burger is with onions (as evidenced by the photo of the burger with onions on it). Yet they always ask if I want onions. Thus, I have to order a “burger with onions” even though the onions come by default.

      Sure these are little nitpicks and not worth blowing up, but the industry really needs to learn how to streamline. I suspect they make it harder because they are usually trying to upsell you (e.g. to buy the meal, to pay extra for cheese, etc.)

      • digital0verdose says:

        There is a big difference between the Starbuck incident and what you see at BK. At BK, it is an up-sell, which is required by their management. This is the same treatment you get at any of the bigger QSRs out there and you will never get away from it.

        As for In-and-Out, they are just being polite. When someone rolls up to a QSR and are ordering, they tend to do so very quickly without thorough inspection of the menu pictures. Asking this simple question ensures that the customer is getting what they want and thusly having a positive experience at the place. The reason this is asked for onions is because it is the one addition that has the most likelihood of being rejected. I actually applaud In-and-Out for paying attention to QSR research and applying it to their business.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Do they really have trouble with people asking for a Whopper and then being mad that they didn’t get a Whopper meal??

        Probably. If you have to choose between accuracy and speed it’s better to be accurate. It’s worth sacrificing a few seconds to make sure you have the customer’s exact order than to lose a lot of time at the window then the customer complains that they didn’t get what they wanted.

        • ben says:

          Exactly. It’s not really that hard to answer a simple question or two, especially when that helps you get exactly what you want.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        Honestly? Yes, they do have that problem with people. Having worked in a fast food place you would be amazed at how hard some people find ordering to be. To make sure you get someone’s order right to try and keep them from getting angry you have to ask dumb questions.

      • sayahh says:

        trentblase wrote: “At In ‘n Out, the default configuration for a burger is with onions (as evidenced by the photo of the burger with onions on it). Yet they always ask if I want onions. Thus, I have to order a “burger with onions” even though the onions come by default.”

        It does NOT come with onions as a default, which is why they ask. Also, some people prefer grilled onions, and others “animal style.” Also, if the photo of the burger doesn’t say “not actual size” or “not to scale,” would you expect the burger to be of that size, whether it’s massive or tiny?

      • dbeahn says:

        The problem is that each person that DOES know what they want, and orders it, there are 9 others that don’t have a clue, but expect you to KNOW that when they say “Whopper Sandwich” that what they REALLY mean is “Whopper Sandwich mean, large sized, with diet coke without ice and no tomato or onion on the Whopper”. These are the type of people that will then scream and bitch and yell at you for giving them what they asked for, rather than what they *wanted*.

        Much safer and easier to asked every customer for clarification.

        • dunaja says:

          This is absolutely true. I worked at BK as a teen, and 50 times a day I’d have a situation where, for example, a customer orders a “regular whopper” and then turns around and SCREAMS at me because I had the audacity to serve them a whopper that had tomatoes on it.

          Even though there’s a sign listing what comes on a whopper right in front of them.

          Clearly, it was my job to be psychic.

      • DragonThermo says:

        That’s why I say “whopper sandwich by itself”. That usually prevents the follow up question.

        i agree I see no reason why they just didn’t request a “plain multigrain bagel”. Maybe the OP’s anaysis is correct that by saying “multigrain bagel”, they imply that’s all they want. However, saying “plain multigrain bagel” leaves little to interpretation. It is clear as to what it requested.

        After that was resolved, the next follow-up question would be “would you like that toasted?” The original request did not specify toasting. The speaker may or may not have implied or assumed it would be toasted. Unless the listener is clairvoyant, if the speaker is not specific and clear in their requirements, the listener has to make assumptions.

        Personally, I have a personal bias against English professors. I’d have thrown them out on that basis alone, nevermind their vague bagel request.

      • dangermike says:

        My big annoyance at BK is when after requesting a combo meal, they ask whether you want the medium or large size, only they do so with the vocal inflection to imply that those are the only choices when in fact both cost extra money (and come with an obscenely large beverage). My solution: 2 buck doubles, large onions, small coke. It comes out to $6.30 here in LA, about $1.50-$2.50 cheaper than any of the numbered combo’s.

      • CyGuy says:

        The most recent encounter I have had similar to this is at Five Guys where a Burger with Everything or a Burger with ‘the works’ specifically doesn’t include all the available toppings. They have the toppings color coded on their menu so that all items in black are what what come when you order ‘the works/everything. Those toppings that don’t come automatically when you specify with everything/the works are listed in Red. I supposed this is understandable as raw jalapenos might be kind of unexpected for new new customers. However, one problem is that on the printed menu on the counter, the colors black and red are reversed from the lighted menu sign behind the counter.

        Either way, it is well worth it to specify ‘the works’ PLUS everything that needs be listed separately because it is one heck of a burger, but what I would like is just a one word phrase that means EVERYTHING. though

      • xredgambit says:

        It’s not them clarifying, it’s them upselling. I didn’t see a single comment suggesting that. Most chains do this. Sometimes it works. Hell I’ve even just gotten a sammich, but then when they ask for a combo I’ll say yes. Sometimes you are on the line for it and the extra question can turn the tides.

        • digital0verdose says:

          lol, you didn’t look hard enough. Look at the bottom of this particular thread. The first response to this post says exactly that.

      • Destron says:

        After working in fast food during high school (Burger King specifically) I can honestly say YES – it happens all the time. It goes both ways, people walk up and say they want Whopper so you give them a Whopper and they want to know where there fries and drink are, on the flip side people will walk up and order a “#1” and when you try to give them the fries and drink say “I didn’t want that, I just wanted the burger”. It is a constant thing that happens several times a day, and that’s why they ask the follow up questions.

        Also on the onions comment, you would be surprised how many people come back bitching about something that is on their hamburger when they did not tell you to leave it off, and you can plainly see in the picture it’s on there, and onions are the number one complaint.

  4. Dallas_shopper says:

    The professor really should have just said “without butter or cheese” and shut up so she could get her bagel…then consider not returning to that Starbucks and letting the manager and/or the corporation know why.

    She’s right, but she also acted like a complete idiot. (So did the barista.) Childish behavior all-around. They should all be embarrassed.

    • Pepster says:

      NO! the order should have been, (wihoturt stopping):

      I’d like a multigrain bagel, without butter, or cream cheese, or american cheese, or swiss cheese, goat cheese, head cheese, sugar, cream, soy milk, soy beans, baked beans, baked ham, lettuce, tomato, onion, lox, jelly, peanut butter, marshamllow fluff….

      Name EVERYTHING in the store, to illustrate the stupidity of making you specify what you don’t want. Also, to demostrate yourr clear superiority over the minimum wage goon who just wants to finish her shift.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I just think it’s really ludicrous for a woman to get into a tiff with a barista because she can’t be bothered to specify that she didn’t want either condiment. That barista probably takes 50 bagel orders a day, most of which include an order for butter and cream cheese. Most people probably eat their bagel with cream cheese or butter.

      When I order my bagel from a local cafe, I hear people asking for plain bagels all the time. Every single time they ask for a bagel, it doesn’t occur to them that they have to also specify plain because 90 out of 100 bagel orders include asking for cream cheese or butter, and the cafe workers kind of do a double take and have to ask “plain? no cream cheese or butter?” just to make sure they heard properly.

      • Blueberry Scone says:


        And because so many customers probably assume the barista will throw in some butter or cream cheese, they probably don’t bother to specify what they want.

        And yeah, my husband is a “plain-on-plain” kind of guy. No cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. If he wants a burger (for example), he has to spell it out several times that he wants *just* a burger and the bun.

    • BadgerPudding says:

      whatever happened to the customer always being right?

      • AstroPig7 says:

        It rightfully went by the wayside. Some customers are too childish to be right.

      • Marshmelly says:

        when the customer acts like a childish fool and the situation involves police intervention for no reason other than the customer acting like a childish fool, then no…the customer is not right in this case.

      • Cyniconvention says:

        I don’t think we need to remind self-righteous idiots of that mantra…

      • Doubts42 says:

        1. it was never true and was always an idiotic statement. if the customer says everything in the store is free, they are wrong. if the customer says they waited an hour to be sat, they are usually lying.

        2. Even if the statement were true, it would end when the customer begins swearing at the employee.

      • fourclover54 says:

        At Starbucks, it isn’t “The customer is always right,” but instead it is “Just say yes.” Or at least it used to be.

    • Abradax says:


      If you are for correct English, then you understand the concept of implication.

      At Starbucks the Bagel comes with butter and cheese, when you order a bagel, it is IMPLIED that you will be getting butter and cheese.

      If you wanted to be correct, you would have ordered a plain bagel.
      Doesn’t specification come into play when you want to use correct English?

      • Garbanzo says:

        Agreed. “English professor” usually just means “trained in English-language literature” rather than “trained in English-language linguistics”. Her conception of “proper English” indicates that she has a very poor understanding of how language works (that is, linguistics).

    • sayahh says:

      The professor really should have just said “without the attitude.”

  5. Snarkster says:

    No bagel for you!

    • clownsRcreepy says:

      You come back, ONE YEAR!

    • lizzybeans11 says:

      +1,000 points :)

    • teke367 says:

      If the barista walked out through the emergency exit with two lattes in her hands, we’d be calling her a hero.

      Just say no butter or cheese, you can’t just say plain since that’s a type of bagel itself. And with cream cheese is the default for bagels, not at Starbucks, but for bagels in general.

      It definitely sounds like somebody woke up and thought to themselves, “I’m going to make a point today, eff being a rational person.”

      Sounds like she goes there often, and has the same problem. At places I’ve worked at, we’ve had people like that, and they would always complain regardless how it came out. (This one lady would complain when we asked if she wanted lemon or cream with her tea, wouldn’t answer, got mad with whatever we gave her. And it came on the side, not already in it)

  6. Sockatume says:

    “When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want”

    Actually, you do, otherwise the burger comes with the standard set of toppings. God damn it, though, an ideological opposition to a store policy is no reason to be an ass to front-line customer service staff. How would this prof feel if someone walked up to her during class and started ranting about the rampant misuse of the apostrophe to denote plural nouns? It’s not her fault!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, and she also seems to be annoyed at specifying “no whip” at Starbucks. What’s up with that? The default topping on a frappachino or other blended drink is whipped cream. If you don’t want whipped cream, and you don’t say you don’t want it, the barista is going to put whipped cream on the drink.

      • LaurelHS says:

        I always request no whip on my frappuccinos. It takes about one second to say. I’m amazed that someone would consider making such a request to be an annoyance.

        Sometimes I get a pastry with my drink at Starbucks, other times I just want the drink. When I order the drink on its own, the barista almost always asks me if I want anything else. That is a mild annoyance; if I wanted anything else, I would have asked for it. But I don’t start a shouting match, I just say, “No thanks” and that’s the end of it. Seriously, this whole thing sounds like a pathological overreaction on Lynne Rosenthal’s part.

    • TimothyT says:

      Yes, I laughed aloud reading your comment. I totally agree and I’m thinking that in time this professor will be really embarrassed over this tirade. We all have our moments I guess but to escalate to the point of calling the police? Seriously, grow the fuck up!

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Exactly. You most certainly DO have to tell BK if you don’t want something on your burger that normally comes on it. Their default burger configuration is not meat and bread.

      This prof was just being an a$$. I get the linguistic bit…but just answer the damn question and then STFU and GTFO.

    • Emperor Norton I says:

      I went to BK on Saturday & got a Whopper, without cheese, without, onions, without mayo & extra pickle.
      That professor is an idiot & undoubtedly has tenure where ever she teaches.
      I pity her students!

    • backinpgh says:

      Maybe she’s thinking of Subway? lol

    • Newto-Rah says:

      I’m wondering if she might have meant Harvey’s, where they take the burger in front of you and ask what you want.

      I still always get funny looks from them when I ask for “only lettuce and onions please” and they still ask if that’s all.

    • soj4life says:

      you ask for a plain hamburger, they give you a plain hamburger. you don’t have to say plain burger without lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard, or mayo.

      • Dunkelzahn says:

        Yes. But you have to specify ‘plain hamburger’. This is key. The lady just had to use the word ‘plain’ and all would be well.

  7. Bort says:

    if this were the only hassle level i had to deal with in life i’d be very grateful

  8. NarcolepticGirl says:


    “The barista said, ‘You’re not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!'”

    Oh man. I would have ran my mouth at that point.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      At that point I would probably have said “How does ‘fuck you’ sound instead?” and walked out. And gone to Panera. Their bagels are better anyway.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        yeah, pretty much what I would have said/done.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        “And gone to Panera. Their bagels are better anyway.”

        True dat!

        This was a ridiculous situation all around. Cream cheese is included in the price of the bagel so yes, asking a customer to specify whether or not they want some is to be expected, especially since most people are idiots and will say plain and then be upset when it arrives without toppings. Once the bagel is handed over they cannot take it back to put on toppings so it becomes a wasted bagel. Better safe than sorry. Burger King does ask whether or not you want cheese. Or fries. Or combo, etc.

        However shouting they can’t get anything until they say butter or cheese is just insane. I would’ve had a nice chuckle hearing that shouting match at 9am

      • FaustianSlip says:

        Actually, now that you mention that, this woman is in New York City, and she’s buying bagels at freaking Starbuck’s? Seriously? Jesus, lady, you’ve got bigger issues than what kind of schmear you do or don’t want.

    • Doubts42 says:

      I am betting the complainer had already been running her mouth, lecturing the poor barista on proper use of English. this was probably just the barista pushing back, and good for her.

      • Doubts42 says:

        yup, just clicked on the story

        “I yelled, ‘I want my multigrain bagel!’ ” Rosenthal said.

        “The barista said, ‘You’re not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!’ “

        so the dried up old hag was already yelling at the barista. i would have evicted her from my store right then.

  9. TBGBoodler says:

    Actually, yes you do have to tell Burger King what NOT to put on your burger. Otherwise you get all the basic toppings.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I was going to write the same thing. If you order a fast food burger, it typically has a default configuration of everything on it. You tell them what you don’t want on it, not the other way around.

      • intensefroid says:

        The thing that kills me is when I order a hamburger at some places and they either give me a cheeseburger or say do you want that without cheese?
        There is a “hamburger” and there is a “cheeseburger” they are two different items that have two different prices. And it seems crazy not to be able to take an order for one of the most ubiquitous food items that exists in the US.
        If the product – as listed on the menu – comes a certain way, you should have to ask to have things removed. But you shouldn’t be forced to order water without kool aid in it.

    • Alexk says:

      And at McDonald’s, if you tell them you don’t want cheese, you’ll still get it half the time. Which is why I stopped going to McDonald’s.

  10. strawbabies says:

    Why didn’t they just serve her the darn bagel with butter and cheese?

  11. VvsK says:

    f y’ll xcs m crd lngg, ths prfssr smpl snds lk cmplt nd ttl btch. nd nt tht sll jdg bsd n pprncs, bt clck th lnk nd lk t th pctr. ‘m srr, bt sh dfntl lks th prt.

    • clownsRcreepy says:

      She definitely looks like someone that is a problem looking for a place to happen. I’m a college professor myself, and you’re right: she does look like a bitch.

    • cayton says:

      My favorite part of the wedding singer:

    • sugarpox says:
    • MMD says:

      So now we’re judging people based on their looks and not on, ya know, the actual story?

      • Dunkelzahn says:

        That comment looks like he/she is using both to judge this person. Note the beginning, where he mentions ‘sounds to me like…’. If that were a comment based on looks, I’m sure it would have gone more like ‘looks to me like…’.

        Nice try, though.

    • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

      I tend to agree with this. If the prof got out on the wrong side of bed this day (and more likely, every day) why is she picking fights with a Sbux barista, of all people? Because she knows she can. They’re relatively powerless and won’t fight back. Her mistake was that, this time, this one did.

      Good for her. This woman seems like a total pill and a joy to be around (not).

  12. Duckula22 says:

    Mmmm, I’m with the barista.

  13. El_Fez says:

    Next up: Clash of the Assholes!

  14. JulesNoctambule says:

    I think they both lose this round, personally.

    • Michaela says:


      The only people I feel sorry for are those who were also in line or trying to enjoy a cup of coffee in the shop.

  15. Angus99 says:

    I am immediately reminded of the two of the self important, pompous douchebags at the Anthropology department in my university – suing each other over some ridiculous bulls__t, and attending all departmental meetings refusing to look at each other, or speak to each other. Essentially, crippling the whole department because of their egos. You may be a “stickler”, professor, but you’re also a putz. Stop browbeating food service employees, and move on to planning how you can better screw another academic.

  16. shell_beach says:

    sure it would be nice if everyone spoke english like an english prof. but the reality is people speak as good or as bad as they want/can. so knowing this and if i wanted a plain ass bagel. i would say can i have a plain multigran bagel. its not that hard or linguistically incorrect.

    side note, who shops at starbucks for bagels? and in New York no less…??

    • sprocket79 says:

      That was my first thought! New York has the best bagels in the world, and this woman goes to Starbucks?! I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

    • wetrat says:

      I make my own bagels at home. No really, I’ve done it and they’re quite good. But when in New York I shop at H&H.

  17. tinmanx says:

    I wonder if this story would have turned out differently if she wore a pin that says “NRA”.

  18. AstroWorn2010 says:

    Wow this is a really stupid thing to get this worked up about. This Professor must have a lot of built up anger.

  19. jcoltrane says:

    For God sakes…

    There are some stands worth making, and others that are a fabulous waste of time and effort on everyone’s behalf.

    Be flexible, choose the proper battles, and live life.

    You are not the Rosa Parks of multigrain bagels, you are an idiot.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      I propose that “Rosa Parks of Multigrain Bagels” becomes a new tag around these parts…

    • misterfweem says:

      Best comment on the internet today, folks. Thanks, jcoltrane.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Just wanted to note since we’re already off topic that Rosa Parks was not some old woman who was too tired to get up and decided to fight for her rights. That is exactly what I was taught in grade school and then later learned that she was only 40 something and worked for the NAACP. She was chosen for the bus protest after another woman who was chosen became pregnant out of wedlock. The NAACP didn’t want anyone attacking the character (namely through the media) of that other woman, so they chose Rosa instead. It was completely a premeditated move, which I find strange that mainstream history has remembered incorrectly. /End side note which people may or may not have known

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s because we love folk heroes and we love the idea of the downtrodden rising up to overcome adversity. Another familiar tale is Betsy Ross’ flag. Most historians have concluded that Betsy Ross did NOT sew the first American flag and there was no committee convened to discuss who would sew the first flag, as the legend describes. We love a good humble origins story, though, and that’s why a lot of kids have grown up thinking Betsy Ross designed and sewed the first flag.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        They did show that part in the HBO special on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

        But yeah, most grade school textbooks use the “she was tired and it just happened” story. I’ve never read that she was an old woman though.

    • PTB315 says:

      Stupidest argument ever, an employee just wants to make sure they get the order right. I honestly cannot believe anyone sides with the customer here, she threw a fit over a non-issue that was not offensive, inappropriate, or even a waste of time. If I was in line behind her this might have been a rare opportunity where I would actually step into a situation (IRL, not on the internet) that I probably have no business being in just to start screaming. Just so, so, so goddamn pointless of an argument.

      Or to semi-indirectly sum it up shitmydadsays.com style with a direct quote from Justin’s dad: “Just pay the parking ticket. Don’t be so outraged. You’re not a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement. You double parked.”

      Ties into the genius Rosa Parks comment from jcoltrane too.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      Indeed. I sounds like the barista asked the clarifying question, “do you want butter or cream cheese with that bagel?” She could have just said no, and it would have been done, but she chose to pick a fight instead.

  20. Daverson says:

    Sounds like a classic Battle Of The Assholes.

  21. NeverLetMeDown says:

    According to the story, she said “I want a multigrain bagel.” The counterperson asked “do you want butter or cream cheese?” At that point, if the prof had said “no thanks,” she would have gotten her bagel, and gotten out of there. She’s not a “stickler for correct English,” she’s just a loon.

    • scratchie says:

      Yeah, in the article, she comes off as a much bigger douchebag. I agree that the barista’s reaction was uncalled for at that point, but all she had to say was “no, thanks” — in response to a helpful query that was intended to ensure that she got exactly what she wanted — and she would have been on her way.

      And for the record, I have never had a problem ordering a “medium” or “large” at Starbucks. Maybe the Starbucks baristas are just less uptight around here.

  22. rpm773 says:

    “I’ll take a multigrain bagel – just put it in a bag please. Thanks.”

    Is such a phrase crude and unsophisticated? Certainly. But it seems to work for me.

  23. drjayphd says:

    With apologies to Alien vs. Predator, whoever wins, we lose. (It didn’t occur to Ms. Rosenthal to just fire back with “you know what I don’t want on it? Butter or cheese!”?)

  24. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Definitely a case of two a**holes.

    But the barista and manager should’ve backed down and sold the woman the bagel. I’d be reluctant to go to a business where the employees and managers act like children, as seems to be the case here.

    • Amnesiac85 says:

      Sold the woman the bagel? But she didn’t specify how she wanted it.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Yes she did. It was implied – you have to read between the lines: She wanted it shoved up her ass.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      And called the police. That seems to be the norm these days. No one seems to be able to deal with any situation anymore so it is “I am going to call the police”. What would these peon’s do if cops didn’t exist. We have a new generation of social retards because they’re incapable of working through situations for themselves but instead rely on their mommy/daddy complex to assist them. But mommy/daddy isn’t availabe so they call the cops.

      • 44Wadeable says:

        If you CAN’T calm someone down who is causing a disruption in your store and who is acting threatening toward another employee or customer, yes, you call the police.

        I’m not saying this whole this wasn’t a stupid pissing match, but if you can’t reason with a person, you have them removed.

  25. bvita says:

    They let horses’ asses like this one educate our children. No wonder this country is in trouble.

    I’m well past college age. The more time that I spend around college professors the less impressed I am with academia.

    • Roe says:

      I completely agree with you. Most of them are smug, all knowing (they think) jerks. Her pic also indicates this along with her asinine comments. All she did for me was to reinforce my feelings toward academic big headed a__holes. I have a degree as well as a license for my given profession, and I would never even begin to treat someone the way she did. It’s no wonder that when push came to shove, the barista shoved. You go Barista ! Show them that bad behavior should never be rewarded !

      • MMD says:

        One professor behaves badly so they’re all assholes?

        You’re going to make a judgment about an entire profession because of one incident?

        And this woman’s looks are relevant to the discussion how, exactly?

  26. pantheonoutcast says:

    Self-righteous, pseudo-intellectual asshole slams head-on into a corporate-brainwashed, disgruntled asshole. I’m surprised the Starbucks didn’t collapse into a quantum singularity of stupidity dooming dozens of aspiring bloggers and their Macbooks to be torn apart at the precipice of the event horizon.

  27. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    The employee was being a jerk.

    • Marshmelly says:

      uh no, the woman was being a jerk. The employee was just politely asking a question about her order, which she refused to answer.

  28. CharlesFarley says:

    Give a little person power…..

    • TimothyT says:

      You’re exactly right. And the so-called educated person should have known that. As someone who has been through a lot of management and sales training, I know that the lowly clerk (or gatekeeper in sales) has the need to fell better than you. Why not give the clerk that? What does it hurt? It sounds as though the so-called educated person has more of a inferiority complex than the clerk or at least equal to said clerk. She probably got her degree on a technicality and is constantly trying to prove herself worthy.

    • grossmont says:

      Some NSFW language.

  29. Ben Popken says:

    I find it odd when people disrupt communication to argue over grammatical errors that are supposedly disrupting communication

  30. Sbb says:

    How is this even a grammar issue?

    • dulcinea47 says:

      It isn’t, not at all, and the fact that she thinks it is just goes further to show her stupidity.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      “No butter or cream cheese” Well, which is it? Is it “No butter” _OR_ is it “No cream cheese”? It would have been fine to say “Nothing on it.”

      Having to take an English class every school day of every school year irritated me. Having the vast majority of the English teachers / professors be complete buttheads made it infuriating.

  31. dreamfish says:

    Such are the actions of people who think too much.

    I regularly have six impossible things I don’t want before breakfast.

  32. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    “So much for the bag-gulls…”

    Seriously though, this whole incident seems really…. unnecessary. Why is it too hard for her to say four words, but she’ll spend the energy trying to prompt the barista to say it for her, calling names and yelling?

  33. diasdiem says:

    What me to punchisize your face–for free?

  34. thrillhouse says:

    Crackpots all around.

  35. XTREME TOW says:

    Was the Barista a former pupil of the Professor?
    BOTH parties are another example of our failing Public School Systems.

    • TimothyT says:

      No. Not at all. There have always been elitist assholes but now we have blogs to out them and comment on their ignorance.

    • sufreak says:

      I fail to see how you can connect 2 people’s issues with the public school system.

  36. diasdiem says:

    Eh, they were both out of line. The guy could have just let it go, but the barista was being a dick for pushing the point too. That being said, as a customer, I think I would have been sorely tempted to change my order to the most complicated and pain-in-the ass drink to make, and then dump the whole f*cking all over the counter.

  37. johnva says:

    This has nothing to do with “linguistics” and everything to do with a woman who has no clue about how to carry out a normal everyday interaction with another person. The “linguistics” nonsense is just an excuse she’s using to boss people around and be an asshat.

  38. mouseyhair says:

    How about “plain multigrain bagel”? Given that most people (not just in Starbucks) prefer something on their bagel, it isn’t redundant. And even if it were, so what? It’s one syllable–it won’t kill you!

  39. dulcinea47 says:

    That has nothing to do with “correct English”. Correct English refers to grammar. There aren’t any grammar issues in this story. And if you want a plain bagel, you need to say PLAIN or they’re going to ask you what you want on it. Don’t be so stupid. I feel sorry for this woman’s students.

  40. bkdlays says:

    Can you get the job at Starbucks if you don’t have an attitude? From my experience, i don’t think so.

    College professors are generally arrogant and have an attitude as well.

    I can see how this situation escalated.

    • the_real_keenfrenzy says:

      In the years I’ve been a customer of Starbucks while living in several different States, I can’t recall a single time that a barista has given me attitude. They are always pleasant, or in a very small number of cases, indifferent.

      YMMV, I suppose.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Well, it helps not to be a complete idiot and pick fights with people. I’ve never had problems with baristas either, but I also make an effort to be nice to everyone I encounter.

    • MMD says:

      And the award for most ridiculously broad generalizations in a single post goes to…

  41. pastthemission says:

    wow…nothing like using your PhD to be a jackass to the barista at Starbucks. Yes the barista should have been more polite but I wouldn’t be surprised if the professor brought out ‘I have a PhD in linguistics’ at some point. I’m in grad school for psych and people say incorrect things ALL the time in common language, movies, and articles, but that doesn’t mean I get to be obnoxious.

  42. sixsevenco says:

    When I was in high-school, I worked at an Exxon gas station during the Valdez spill. There were lots of people that told me how angry they were with Exxon. The only one I remember was a professor of Latino studies. He was yelling at me because the media was mispronouncing Valdez (rhymes with Pez) as Vald-ee-z (rhymes with peas). I told him I would inform corporate of his complaint.

  43. spazztastic says:

    All she had to do was say “No, thank you.” and she’d be done. Just like at McDonalds when they ask if you want fries with that, or to supersize. Really, she’s just being a bitch.

  44. the_real_keenfrenzy says:

    What seems more likely to have been spoken by the barista would have been, “I can’t give you anything unless you tell me whether you want butter or cheese with it,” since the deliverable for the barista was dependent on the customer answering the criteria for the order, which involved 1.)item 2.)applicable condiment.

    The professor may be a stickler for English, but she’s certainly not a stickler for manners, since the proper response to a simple question is a simple answer.

  45. Jedana says:

    IMO, they were both wrong. The barista should not have made her/his comments. But the “Professor” was definitely wrong. There is no need to yell at anyone, a simple answer of yes or no would have sufficed. And yes, if I go to BK and I don’t want pickles or lettuce on my whopper, I HAVE TO TELL THEM THAT!!!

    This type of person is the reason I left working the restuarant industry. Dealing with whiny, bitchy, I’m better than you, angry people for 20 years was more than enough.

  46. Amnesiac85 says:

    How is this a grammatical situation? When I go to Einsteins, if I want a bagel without anything on it, I’ll say “Sesame seed bagel plain, nothing on it.” Simple! I’d say many people order a bagel with butter or cream cheese or something. Just like when people order something at Burger King, they get the beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, ketchup, etc. If you don’t want all the extra veggies, specify “Whopper with no lettuce” or something. This is just someone who wanted to cause a problem. There is no reason for this to be an issue. If you don’t like it, don’t go to Starbucks. Sheesh.

    • megafly says:

      Why should you need to say that you want your sesame bagel plain and with nothing on it? first of all, isn’t a plain bagel a specific type (without stuff on the outside) that means that either the plain and nothing on it, or the sesame bagel are correct.

      Have you considered that perhaps this professor has fought this battle time and time again and finally just got pissed that Starbucks can’t get it right?

      If you have a regular customer who does things a specific way, you don’t really need to re-wright national corporate policy to resolve the situation.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Why should you need to say that you want your sesame bagel plain and with nothing on it?

        Because you were just asked “Do you want cream cheese or butter”! If someone asks if you want something and the answer is ‘No’ then you say ‘No’. You don’t just stand there repeating that you want a bagel.

        • FaustianSlip says:

          Frankly, if she’s buying her bagels at freaking Starbuck’s when she’s in the middle of NYC, capital of bagels, she deserves whatever she gets.

  47. rdclark says:

    Sometimes it’s wrong to be right.

  48. ThunderRoad says:

    Even if linguistically correct, the professor is still a douche-canoe!

  49. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Why require her to say anything about the bagel? Just SELL her the friggin’ bagel already! I wonder if this is the same Starbucks near the World Trade Center that refused to give the emergency workers water for victims after the first plane hit. I wouldn’t doubt it – (I also don’t buy into the justifications Starbucks released after the incident – lousy PR).

  50. cmdr.sass says:

    It would be just my luck to be behind this a-hole in line.

  51. David in Brasil says:

    This sounds like the classic scene from Five Easy Pieces…

    “hold the butter between your knees, miss”

  52. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    “…became enraged when the barista at the franchise, on Columbus Avenue at 86th Street, followed up by inquiring, ‘Do you want butter or cheese?'”

    Couldn’t the professor have just said “Neither” or “No thank you”? The professor is a world class jerk to not only refuse to answer the question but to start yelling and actually let this get to a point where police had to get involved.

    WTF is this chick’s problem? Does she pull this crap everywhere she goes? Does she go off on the staff of every restaurant or fast food place she goes to if they ask her if she’d like condiments?

  53. mowz says:

    If only my troubles in life were that trivial. I wish I were there this morning. I could have used a good laugh.

  54. Haezeus says:

    You know what I’m a stickler for? Getting through a line quickly. There is nothing incorrect or linguistically weird about asking for a plain bagel. At least, not incorrect enough for you to ruin the day of anyone in line behind you.

  55. mowz says:

    If only my troubles in life were that trivial. I wish I were there this morning. I could have used a good laugh.

  56. AstroPig7 says:

    Does she also feel that I should specify I want food to be cooked when I order it from a restaurant?

  57. taney71 says:

    I’m with the professor. I hate Starbucks and when I go with my wife’s family I order a large coffee. I refuse to say Tall or whatever the large size is.

    • sufreak says:

      And I bet you get a large coffee every time. Do you really think you’re pissing anyone off? They make barely more than minimum wage. They don’t give a rats ass what you call it.

  58. DoktorH says:

    A college professor can’t figure out that you have to let your cashier/barista/burgerlord know if you want something other than the standard toppings at a fast-food place? Glad I didn’t go to that school

  59. BocaMan says:

    Every time I order an ice coffee, they always ask if I want it sweetened (with their gross sugar syrup). I totally refuse to say unsweetened when ordering because ordering just coffee should imply unsweetened. But when they ask “sweetened” I always say no. Bottom line: they are robots, they do what they are required to. If I could I’d go somewhere else.

    • regenerator says:

      The iced coffees and teas come sweetened by recipe. They’re actually doing you a favor by asking this clarifying question, because otherwise you would get it sweetened. The store you go to probably had a lot of people ask for their drinks to be remade because they didn’t want them sweetened, so to save time and headaches they ask you.

      If you want to speed things up, you need to order an “unsweetened iced coffee.”

  60. FeelinFroggy says:

    Clearly both acted childishly but if you ask for a multigrain bagel, you should get a multigrain bagel. If you ask for a multigrain bagel with butter…that’s what you get.
    Remove all assumptions of how this “Barista” is used to having a bagel ordered and simply focus on what was asked of herhim. The only way the “Barista” is in the right here is if the standard bagel comes with butter and cream cheese and is clearly listed on the menu.

    Coincidentally this happens to me almost daily. I order a “ham egg and cheese, just the sandwich and an iced tea”…..yet somehow I still get asked if I want the meal or if I want fries with that?!?
    Does it bother me? Maybe a bit more than it should because the person taking the order is either not paying attention or just plain ignorant. Nevertheless I realize whom is taking my order and just repeat whatever part they didn’t get the first time around.
    Did I mention the same person takes my order 4 out of 5 days a week and my order is the same everyday? LOL

    Be conscious of who you are dealing with because common sense isn’t so common anymore.

  61. Alexk says:

    The professor is a highly educated nitwit. Aside from the fact that she’s dead wrong –if you don’t specify “no cheese” at a Burger King or McDonald’s, you’re going to get a cheeseburger no matter WHAT you ordered– she’s gone out of her way to cause a fuss. When I took my degrees in English, we prized communication. She seems to have mistaken her Strunk and White for an attack weapon.

  62. vitajex says:

    I would have just given the barista the cold shoulder-


  63. MeOhMy says:

    I bet this is the kind of person who gets all bent out of shape if you neglect to call her “Doctor” so-and-so.

  64. irritated-gooch says:

    i hate that professor.

  65. Blueberry Scone says:

    This is why I like Five Guys. You start with a plain burger, and then you tell the counterperson what you’d like on it. That’s it. (I know this doesn’t quite apply to the story at hand, but I like the idea of a restaurant starting with a “plain thing,” then you have to tell them what you want on it)

  66. BoredOOMM says:

    1000 other places to buy bagels and she makes a fit in Starbucks?!?

    I don’t get it.

  67. farker says:

    Is it just me or does this have absolutely nothing to do with linguistics…

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      It’s not just you. There’s nothing linguistically incorrect about asking someone whether they want any condiments.

      If anything the professor was being incorrect by answering the question “Do you want cream cheese or butter?” with “I want a multigrain bagel”.

  68. evnmorlo says:

    It would be better if they let you apply your own topping. I’ve never had a bagel at Starbucks, but at some places even if you want cream cheese they add about 2 inches of the stuff, which turns a delicious filling into an emetic.

  69. Zeratul010 says:

    I suspect we’re not being told about the escalation, in which the barista probably asked politely multiple times. If the professor was being a prick and refusing to answer the question, my sympathies lie pretty squarely with the barista. It kills the professor’s sense of professional pride to give the two word answer of “Neither, thanks”?

  70. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    Professor, what’s another word for pirate treasure?

  71. Wysguy says:

    When my kids were small, I’d have to ask for a “plain burger with nothing on it” at any of the fast food shops I visited. while I agree the Barista was probably an a-hole about it, the Professor was a little out of line.

  72. MitchV says:

    There are certain people you deal with in life who you NEVER want to anger. Among them are the folks who handle your food.

    The professor is a fool.

  73. thriftinyc says:

    If I order a bagel with butter at a deli, they ask if I want it toasted. If I ask for coffee, they ask if I want milk or sugar. It’s normal for the server to seek clarification on the order. It’s normal for me to respond with “yes please” or “no thanks”.

    I’ve also never had a Starbucks barista or cashier refuse to serve me if I didn’t order with the proper lingo. I’m sure this incident was blown out of proportion by someone. Hmm, perhaps the NY Post?

  74. Sword_Chucks says:

    Yay! Like I needed another reason to not shop at starbucks. Im actually pretty content with the primary basis of Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce has its head up its a– and has a boycott on Arizona, so Im boycotting Seattle

  75. Dr.Wang says:

    Only in NYC, where rude was invented!

  76. CWG85338 says:

    Correct English or not, the professor was an ass. I’m pretty precise about my language, too, but when in Rome…

  77. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    What? A baby boomer PhD from New York who’s a total douche bag? I’m shocked!

  78. BurtReynolds says:

    I fight the power by ordering a “medium” or “large” coffee at Starbucks. With that said, I wouldn’t have a problem saying I want my bagel plain.

    I actually blame the professor here for not answering the follow up question. If I order a coffee at Dunkin Donuts (where they will put cream and sugar in for you) the first question I get if I were to order “a coffee”, is “do you want cream or sugar?”. If I say “black” coffee, then I don’t get the follow up.

    I would also argue that a “standard” bagel order at most places is made with the expectation of butter or cream cheese. Requiring the adjective “plain” isn’t unreasonable to describe that you want something that is probably not the norm. With her logic, if I order a “burger” at BK, I should get a piece of meat on bread. If I want ketchup, tomato, etc. I should have to ask for it. Most people don’t want a plain burger, so they don’t offer that as their standard burger.

  79. JoeTaxpayer says:

    When I lived in NYC (till I was 22) I recall the default for coffee was milk, 2 sugars. This was at any place to go. Starbucks didn’t exist then.
    As I took it black, my ordering was “coffee, black, no sugar.” I didn’t debate with every cashier that the default should be no add-ins. Of course, in an Italian restaurant, “black” meant espresso, so there, I’d say American coffee, black, no sugar, just to be safe.

    • pax says:

      This is true. Your neighborhood bodega/coffee shop in NYC will always default to cream and sugar, as does Dunkin Donuts. I have no problem with saying “coffee, black, no milk or sugar,” because I HATE having to have it made again if it’s with cream and sugar; I feel like I’m being whiny and the person making it might get in trouble.

  80. SabreDC says:

    They’re both kooks. Figure out how much it cost the police department to respond to such a pointless quarrel and make them split the cost 50/50.

    The lady could have just said “No” (not even “No thanks”) when asked, “”Do you want butter or cheese?” It’s not like showing your receipt; how hard is it to just say “no” when asked a simple question?

  81. Clyde Barrow says:

    I would have called the the barista an a-hole too. What is up with these people at these places these days? She should be fired. Who cares if the Prof didn’t say, “I don’t want this or that”. Why do people feel the need to overcomplicate an easy order? Just give the damn bagel to the customer. Why do these people make it so hard to spend our money? Good grief!

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Really? You really would have called someone an asshole for asking if you wanted butter or cream cheese?

  82. DanGarion says:

    Considering the bagel comes standard with butter or cheese, regardless of what this “professor” thinks, she should have just answered the question. She’s just being a bitch to be a bitch, IMO.

    Besides what did she want on her bagel?

  83. lehrdude says:

    What I really hate is places that assume that if I order a bagel, either plain, or with butter, that I want it toasted. Fresh bagels should NEVER be toasted…that defeats the purpose of making them fresh. I HATE have to order a “bagel, NOT toasted!…”

  84. Kat@Work says:

    Here’s her problem: “I yelled,”

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:


      You can’t admit you yelled and then claim all you did was ask for a bagel.

  85. ConsumerPop says:

    That poor barista. The barista should have given her a bagel with cream cheese AND butter. That’s like saying “I want a coffee” “Milk or sugar?” “I WANT COFFE!”

  86. Brunette Bookworm says:

    They are both idiots but from the article it sound like this professor makes a habit of refusing to use the Starbucks terms on the menu when she orders. Maybe this person just got tired of dealing with her every day. If the professor has such a problem with Starbucks, why not go somewhere else? She’s in freaking NYC! She can get a better bagel at many other places.

  87. Mulva says:

    Does she have these rages everywhere? Because there’s incorrect English all around. I’m surprised she doesn’t have a record for blowing her top in every store she visits, or for simply driving down the road. Just ask Weird Al:

  88. otropotro says:

    “Neither, thank you. Just plain.”

    End of drama.


  89. H3ion says:

    How about “No thank you.” It’s succinct, clear and gets the point across. Besides, you don’t sound like an over-educated twit.

  90. stormbird says:

    See, the professor sort of had me until the ‘a-hole’ bit. I did a Facebook double-post complaining about the improper use of ‘literally’ and even I would have shut up before they called the police.

  91. badgertale says:

    Seems like anyone associated with Starbucks is a bit uppity anyway. Pepster noted that “anyone who insist on over complicating the order…” I think “over complicating” is the key word for anyone who insists on getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks. They are “affected” in such a way as to have a perpetual upswing of the nose and outstretched pinky finger when sipping their cup of Joe, tea or what have you. They have an air of aristocracy wrapped around them like onion skin even when they think they don’t…

    Argue semantics?! Why that is the mantra of Starbucks!

  92. angienessyo says:

    I actually do have to list what I don’t want on my burger at fast food restaurants because I don’t like ketchup/mustard/pickles/onions on my burgers.

    Now as a Starbucks barista I have run into someone like this. It’s not because I was being a jerk, I don’t care if people use our lingo or not and I would have given her the bagel. (at my location we don’t give toppings unless people say they want them)

    BUT, the one time someone got extremely upset with me they came up and ordered “a decaf iced venti sugar free vanilla”. and I replied “what kind of drink?” and she got extremely mad and was like “A DECAF ICED VENTI SUGAR FREE VANILLA!” and I was like “decaf iced venti sugar free vanilla what m’am?” and it kind of went in circles, even when I got specifics and tried to find out if she was wanting a latte or caramel macchiato she eventually screamed “I DONT KNOW, DECAF ICED VENTI SUGAR FREE VANILLA!” But she would NOT clarify what drink she was wanting decaf, iced, with sugar free vanilla. Eventually my manager had to intervene and we found out she wanted decaf iced coffee, something Starbucks doesn’t have, at least not in any of the stores I’ve been to. And the whole argument could have been avoided had she just plopped in the word “coffee” at the end of her order.

    People that get dramatic over ordering coffee make me sad. The woman had no reason to get extremely upset and angry at me because I was never rude to her, all I asked was what she wanted.

  93. Sparty999 says:

    Um… you do have to tell Burger King what you don’t want… I would like a Whopper, no tomato, no onion… unless you want tomato or onion! I hate college professors… live in the real world for a while you douches.

  94. brinks says:

    Sometimes I’m glad I lost my job as a retail manager. It’s been a nice break from people like this bitch.

    She refused to answer an employee’s question because she didn’t feel like she had to? What’s wrong with the employee trying to clarify? If the employee gives her the wrong thing, you know she’s going to complain. I can’t blame the employee for trying to get a straight answer.

    Honestly, after dealing with people like this all morning, I feel for the barista. You can only take so much. Bet the barista wishes there was beer and an emergency slide.

  95. sanjaysrik says:

    It’s Starbucks, if you’re pretentious enough to “shop” there and insist on learning their linguistic style, you deserve what you get. Me I prefer the cart guys on the corner, cheaper, and better stuff.

    mmmm, jelly donut.

  96. wrbwrx says:

    You have to specify “Gimme a Slice of Cheese” when ordering at a Pizza shop in Boston.

    Everywhere else i have been, just saying “gimme a Slice” conveys the point.

  97. doodlebug says:

    Sounds like a toddler throwing a fit. Because yelling and cursing at staff is an excellent sign of being reasonable.

  98. Helix Queen says:

    Ack… When you work in the service industry, tools come in all the time and can be difficult about the smallest things. It’s also not uncommon for some executive d-bag to come in after a long day and take it all out on whoever happens to be across the counter at that moment. It’s a wonder the barista didn’t just grab two beers and then slide down the slippy slide.

  99. Extended-Warranty says:

    I’m glad this ended the way it did.

    Having worked with the public, I have never in my life seen a group of people that is more disruptive, rude, and self-centered as professors. They always feel the need to state their position and affirm their superiority whenever they feel something isn’t the way it should be. You aren’t experts of everything, assholes…

  100. sumocat says:

    She was asked if she wanted butter or cheese. She could have said “neither.” She chose to yell “I want my multigrain bagel!” Kick her out and make room for folks who can answer simple questions and/or accept the upsell as a way of retail life.

    FYI, at Burger King, they do ask if you want cheese on your burger if you order something that does not necessarily come with cheese, such as a Whopper or BK Veggie. And unlike other burger joints, they also ask if you want ketchup with your fries.

  101. Bamboozler says:
  102. thewriteguy says:

    Frankly, this professor sounds like a d-bag. I’m sure her classes are a joy.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I hope her students put “I WANT A MULTIGRAIN BAGEL” on all of her class evaluations.

  103. cardigan says:

    This is what happens when you spend too much time in academia. You wind up getting into a shouting match with a Barista over linguistics, and then all of a sudden you’re found in a ditch somewhere, naked and covered in pages from “The Catcher in the Rye”.

  104. MacBenah says:

    Very accurate description of ALL Starbucks employees.

  105. Cicadymn says:

    They both sound absolutely pathetic. The “professor” for actually screaming about a fucking bagel. And the barista for not just giving in to the demands of a selfish person with a Peggy Hill level self image, and proceeding to make a huge ordeal out of nothing.

    They’re both just awful.

  106. krom says:

    I go to Starbucks very regularly and I’ve never had a rude interaction. They usually do something approaching backflips to please people. I’ve gotten free replacement drinks for ones I spilled, free drink coupons when they screw up drinks, even free drinks for ones they didn’t hear me say over the drive-thru speaker. They get really apologetic if they screw anything up (like putting five shots in a quad venti because they’re new and got the standard vs. extra math wrong).

    Likely this has something to do with being in Starbucks’ back yard. I’ve noticed that generally, the further you get from a chain’s headquarters and core region, the worse quality of goods and service you get. But I always figured Starbucks strove for consistency.

    • LaurelHS says:

      The baristas at my neighbourhood Starbucks have given me a venti frappuccino instead of a grande (for the grande price) because I ordered a grande but they were out of grande cups. They’re usually cheerful and friendly to customers and if you regularly go there and order the same thing, they remember and ask if you’re having “your usual” as soon as you come in, which saves time.

  107. Dunkelzahn says:

    From the article: “If you don’t use their language, they refuse to serve you. They don’t understand what a plain multigrain bagel is.”

    I respectfully submit that Ms. Rosenthal does not know how to order a plain bagel. She quoted herself as asking for a ‘multi-grain bagel’, not a ‘plain multi-grain bagel’. I’m sure they would have understood had she ordered correctly.

  108. andyg8180 says:

    Customer: I would like a multigrain bagel.
    Employee: no problem, would you like cheese or butter on it?
    Customer: no thank you

    WTF starbucks, thats a proper conversation, not “I would like a bagel without cheese or butter”. Who the hell talks like that? The professor is right, i dont go to burger king and say i want a burger without onions lettuce tomato but add ketchup and mustard.

    • Dunkelzahn says:

      Your synopsis of the conversation was exactly how it happened until the end, according to the article. When asked if she wanted cheese or butter, she responded ‘Multi-grain bagel’. RTFA.

      Also, when you order any burger from any establishment, they make it for you with all of the assumed condiments and toppings unless told otherwise. Example: A whopper comes with lettuce, tomato, onion etc. If you do not want these things, you advise them of this. Otherwise you’re getting it.

      Fail on your part.

  109. sopmodm14 says:

    slang and work-specific “jargon” might not be lexiconically correct, but she made a big deal out of it. she is the “linguistically” definition of “attention whore” it seems.

    i’ve gotten my bagels from DD, tim hortons, and startbucks w/o anything

    that being said, the barista might not have known she wanted it w/o anything

    her “neither” reply was still ambiguous, and she could have just said, “w/o anything”

    either way, i’m sure a lawsuit would come of this *rolls eyes

  110. sopmodm14 says:

    or perhaps, if she is so inclined, could write a paper on the vernacular of starbucks terminology

  111. Jimmy37 says:

    Somebody needs to tell this stuck-up language professor she doesn’t know what she is talking about.

    This is not a language issue. This is an information science issue. Each term represents a idea. Since she insists on using one representation and the store insists on using another representation, without a mapping (or translation), her requests can’t be met.

    Her request for a bagel does not preclude the inclusion of a shmear. Even though she did not ask for it, the clerk is obligated to provide it, none the less. Without her providing an explicit, rather than implicit, answer, the clerk can’t move forward.

  112. nopirates says:

    i’m not endorsing what the prof. did, but anyone who has attempted to order a coffee or coffee-related item in NY will understand one’s frustration with the attitude of many of those who pour the coffee. often called ‘baristas’, which i believe is hipster for ‘coffee a-hole with bad attitude and no social skills’, these people are expert in judging you based on your coffee order and wonderfully skilled in dishing out snarky disapproval if your refreshment order does not pass some sort of test in their freshly-roasted brains.

    trying to get a cop of joe in NYC has become extremely annoying.

  113. ronbo97 says:

    Next time, ask for it ‘naked’ and wink at the barista. :)

  114. regenerator says:

    This woman is crazy; her own account of the story makes it sound like she’s in the wrong. The barista asked if she’d like butter or cream cheese with her bagel; a standard follow-up question. She was not being “forced” to order “bagel, no cream cheese and no butter,” but was being asked a question of clarification in order for the barista to ensure the customer was satisfied from the start (and wouldn’t return ranting about not being given cream cheese).

    And now this is all giving me flashbacks to the nasty customers I remember from my days at SBUX. Loved those customers who would order tea, then when asked which type of tea they’d like (I’d even make it simple and just say black, green, or herbal), would shout, “PLAIN TEA! Geez, how hard is that?” They’d get English breakfast. That appeased about 80% of them. Then there were the ones who would indignantly return a few minutes later, saying I made their tea wrong – that it’s supposed to be spicy, sweet, and milky. Oh, so they wanted a chai latte, but insisted on “PLAIN TEA” when asked for clarification. God, five years have passed, yet I remember those asshole customers as clearly as ever.
    Now, those times when I’m in a Starbucks, I get to shoot nasty looks to the rude customers, and it feels great.

  115. Sparkstalker says:

    Wow, what a Lit decent nut…

  116. haggis for the soul says:

    As someone who used to go around correcting the grammar on the graffitied desks at my college, I resent this woman for using “being a stickler for correct English” as an excuse for ridiculous and rude behavior. Get a grip, madam.

  117. Incident8 says:

    Quit being a bitch to the service worker and understand that for the very much smaller salary than a professor, they have to deal with people like you all damn day. They also have to deal with corporate policies that may force them to have particular answers due to cirucumstances that have arisen from other a-hole customers. I can see it now “Wheres the butter on this damn bagel? What idiot gets a bagel without butter, you people are idiots. What, no cream cheese either?”
    This is an anal retentive person picking on someone because they can. The prof is a bully.

  118. Tomas says:

    Unless it says on the “menu” that a bagel comes WITH butter and cheese, when one orders a “bagel” one should get a “bagel.”

    Same with ordering an Iced Coffee, in my opinion.

    First time I ordered an “iced brewed coffee” at a Starbucks I wanted brewed coffee, cold, with ice.

    What I got instead was brewed coffee, served cold with ice and enough “sweetener” to gag a maggot.

    NOWHERE on the posted menuboard did it say ANYTHING about them loading a customer’s coffee with sugar or corn syrup or whatever it was. (Yes, I immediately returned that sweetener laden concoction and insisted that when I ordered Iced coffee I expected just iced coffee. I was told that I’d have to specify “no sweetener” then. I said that the menu did NOT say they loaded their iced brewed coffee with “sweetener”, so I should not have to say “no sweetener.” Needless to say, it’s a lost battle.)

    I agree with the professor on this: Serve what is advertised and ordered, don’t just add random crap to it and demand the customer tell you not to.


  119. Big Mama Pain says:

    I love the comment below the original article about Gloria Allred smelling easy money

  120. hardtoremember says:

    First, don’t yell at the barista… Second, the barista should try being not a jack-ass.
    I would have thrown both of them out!

  121. MarkSweat says:

    “She called [the barista] an a–hole.”

    This from a “stickler for correct English”? Methinks she was just pissed and wanted someone to vent against. Kudos to the barista for standing firm.

  122. operator207 says:

    Do these bagels come with cream cheese or butter as a default topping? If so, this “professor” may have “mastered” grammar, but she failed “comprehension”.

    If someone asks you a question, and you do not answer it, but that question dictates how your food is prepared, I am pretty sure the person asking for food is being the dumb one.

    I am also pretty sure there is an unwritten rule that your food is allowed (by the unwritten law of course) to be shoved up your ass. With a $2 ‘suya’ fee added of course.

  123. Sardis says:

    I don’t see the problem. A simple answer, butter or cheese? Too hard to say plain please? Seems she just kept saying I want a multi-grain bagel over and over again. If you cant be correct in any other way, be grammatically correct.

  124. sopmodm14 says:

    she’s pretty dumb for a PhD

    dumb and dumb make dumberer i guess

    *excuse the vernacular or lexicon, or just take the sarcasm

    again, you would think being the professor, she could have just added “…without any spread…” or “…as is…”

    by her own admittance, if she went to an establishment that operates on their own definition of sizing , she could go to any other regular place that had the typical “small, medium, large” sizes

    i’m surprised she didn’t have a fit because it was a single franchise, yet the name was plural

  125. denisem says:

    I’m glad they kicked her to the curb. It’s not cool to treat the people behind the counter badly just because one feels like being an asshat that day.

    The professor should pay as much attention to correct behavior as she does to using correct English.

  126. Dracoster says:

    I’m not a business owner. But I keep wondering why people behave like this. And I see lots of comments that agrees with the moronic professor. What’s wrong with you people? Didn’t your mama teach you manners?

  127. stottpie says:

    work a retail job for a couple months. you’ll quickly realize why pedantic and annoying customers like these will infuriate you. the barista doesn’t care if venti sounds stupid or the way you order bagels isn’t correct. they make minimum wage and berating them doesn’t really help anybody.

  128. The Marionette says:

    If someone is willing to take the time to make a simple order into something more difficult than it should be then THEY are the ones causing the problem, in this case the woman could’ve just simply said “I’d like a multigrain bagle with only (insert items or lack there of).” and that would’ve been the end of that. And I can say for having experienced it myself at work there are customers who actually make a problem. A time when a woman said “Give me a medium popcorn with no butter on it” i simply said (and with no sort of attitude or a tone that would give that impression) “Our popcorn doesn’t come with butter, the salt and butter is self-served”. You would think that would be the end of that part of the conversation and she would continue on with her order. Instead she then said (with a hint of attitude) “Well I don’t want any butter on it”. I can pick up quickly when someone’s intentionally trying to cause a scene. I again told her about that there’s no butter on the popcorn, that it’s self-served if she would want it. Of course a manager was called over, in the end it was the typical task of giving the customer their bottle and let it be that. Point is a lot of customers will find a reason to cause a scene, not all, but some. I’m not saying that employees are prize pigs.

  129. Mara-chan says:

    First let me say I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Starbucks. Their whole holier-than-thou attitude with titles and such just rubs me the wrong way.

    Second, ANY place that can’t stick to a variant of Small/Medium/Large won’t get my business. If I go into 7-11, I know that a Super Big Gulp has more than a Big Gulp. I don’t need a dictionary or a picture to know what’s bigger: a Grande or a Venti. Shouldn’t Grande mean Large? No, it’s medium. and WTF is a Trenta? (and yes, I had to look this up)

    If someone corrected me when I used normal English language terms in an English speaking establishement, I’d tell them where to stick it. It’s one thing if you try to order a Big Mac at Burger King, but “give me a large” pretty much means the same thing anywhere you go… except Starbucks. Skip the language lessons, give me my coffee.

    Next, “Barista.” No. Counter person. Waiter/waitress. Server. Clerk. Cashier. I don’t say in other stores “Can I get a Team Member to help me?” or ‘Cast Member’ or ‘associate’ or whatever. They’re employees. Just like Sanitation Engineer = garbage man and “customer relations specialist” = cashier.

    Finally, if the bagel comes with a choice of cheese or butter and you want plain, you need to say plain. If it costs extra, then just saying “bagel” should get you a plain. If you ask for a Whopper, it comes with mayo. If you don’t want the mayo you have to say so. If you want to add cheese, you have to say “Whopper with cheese.”

    In short:

    Both parties were wrong and Starbucks is evil.

  130. Bog says:

    The waitress may be a bitch, but the professor is an elitist douche-bag.

    So, their bagel comes with cheese or butter by default, the waitress way over escalated by giving the customer directive. The customer also was being overly difficult by getting persnickety. She could have just said “neither,” or “I’d like it plain.”

    I know people like the alleged professor. They often are inflexible, not understanding that language is flexible and ever evolving. This is especially true with English.

    If she wants a static and heavily (government) regulated language then she should endorse French or something.

  131. baristabrawl says:

    Generally I hate people with PhDs. They spend their time teaching people to live in the real world when they can’t do it themselves. How about this: You’re in the minority. Stay out of jail and ask for the damn thing plain. NEXT?!

  132. FaustianSlip says:

    When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want…

    Um, yes, you do, at least if the default order comes with XYZ that you don’t want. If I order a Whopper Jr. and don’t want pickles on it, or mustard, or ketchup, I have to tell the guy behind the counter. If I order chicken nuggets, and he asks me, “Do you want barbecue or buffalo sauce with that?” and I don’t want either, I also have to tell him. Which isn’t all that hard, incidentally. You just say, “Neither, actually- just plain is fine, thanks!” I would think an English professor could handle it- the longest word in that sentence is only a few syllables.

  133. CarlWilliams says:

    this woman fits the bill for an uppity NYU professor. Oh its too much for you to say you would like neither butter or cheese or your bagel? So much so that you would rather yell at some poor chump who makes $7.50/hr?

    This is why people shouldnt pay $40k/yr for tuition at schools like NYU. Youre just paying for people like this.

  134. Coelacanth says:

    My first trip to New York, I ordered a “coffee, regular” (which I’ve always assumed meant “black.”) Instead, it had cream and sugar, so I learned the second time to order “coffee, black.”

    Never once had a problem again. (Now I live in NY.)

  135. jcota says:

    This professor was acting like a complete asshole. Its a reasonable question?

  136. Djwei says:

    “I would like my bagel plain.”

    Is it really that difficult?

  137. trencherman says:

    Teachers College apparently doesn’t teach politeness.

  138. Carlee says:

    This professor is just a nutcase. I haven’t ordered a bagel from Starbucks before (they sell bagels?) so I wouldn’t know they come with butter or cream cheese, free of charge. If the barista asked me butter or cream cheese, I would answer.

    I work with professors and some of them are pains. Some are nice, but there are some that are just so particular (about whatever they think is super important – most of the time which is not at all important).

    As for having to specify “no whip”, when I order frappucinos, they usually ask if I want whip cream. I think the frappucinos usually come with whip, but they ask anyway. If you order a drink that usually comes with whip, and you don’t want whip, then yes – you will have to say so. I can just imagine the prof ordering a frappucino and when the barista asks her if she wants whip, she says “I want a frappucino!”.

    Why does she even shop there if she’s so outraged over their “stupid” menu?

  139. donovanr says:

    Once you call the police on a customer for not following a stupid rule you have got to understand you have missed the point entirely.
    I could see calling the police for not following the “No punching people in the eye” rule. But the “Not following the corporate script” rule.
    My reaction if I were the owner/regional manger would be “Why did you call the police?” and then after any possible answer, “Sorry but A you’re fired and B don’t expect a final paycheck in exchange for my not suing your ass for damaging this location’s reputation.”

    • anonemouse says:

      “I could see calling the police for not following the “No punching people in the eye” rule. But the “Not following the corporate script” rule.”

      She didn’t not follow some script. She refused to tell them what she wanted.

  140. soj4life says:

    pretentious English professor vs pretentious coffee jockey. as much as it is the professor’s fault for not saying no butter and no cream cheese, it is just moronic to force your customers to have to say it in the first place. When I order a bagel anywhere I ask for the bagel to be buttered, toasted or smeared with cream cheese because that how it works.

  141. vonvand says:

    A-holes all around – the manager has to call the cops? Why not just give the woman the damn bagel and tell her to shop some place else.
    What a bunch of jerks.

  142. EcPercy says:

    It’s funny that you never really get the whole story a lot of time. It sounds to me like the OP went off and probably used a good amount of profanity.

    I would imagine the situation being something like this:

    OP: I would like a Multi Grain Bagel
    Barista: Would you like butter or cheese?
    OP: Did I effin ask for butter or cheese a-hole??
    Barista: (getting pissed at this point) Well you won’t get anything unless you tell me if you want butter or cheese.
    OP: YELLING to cause a scene… Cops called. Asked to leave.

    All you had to say here when they asked “butter or cheese” was NO THANKS! Problem solved and you would have gotten your food.

  143. plas says:

    Clearing up something. The bagels at Starbucks do not automatically come with cream cheese, hence asking whether someone wants it or not. The cream cheese is a separate line item on the POS and has an additional cost. Butter is free however.

  144. mrfantomhawk says:

    lets have an example,
    customer: Id like a multigrain bagel please
    Barista: would you like butter or cream cheese on that
    Customer: just a multigrain bagel please
    barista: oh ok, no problem

    thats how it should’ve went

  145. VerizonFanNot says:

    A tech just called, ostensibly at the urging of Ms.Charles—after four hours of supervisors saying “we can’t”, he says he’ll be here today. We’ll see.

  146. redkamel says:

    I put just as much fault on starbucks as the stubborn professor.
    Yes, the professor was being an ass. However, in any service industry, you do tend to run into obstinate, stubborn people acting like idiots. So the onus is really on the business to accommodate these weirdo’s… within reason. Why? Because if you don’t they make a scene, and its a lot easier to just give someone a bagel than push some stupid rule to its limit. As a cashier your job is to ring people up and keep the line moving. She won’t answer the question? Just make a decision, ring it up and move along.

    If the lady wont say what she wants on the bagel, just put whatever it normally comes with on the side. Or give it to her plain and put it on if she complains. Or just listen to what she is repeatedly saying: “I want a multi-grain bagel.”

  147. Andyb2260 says:

    Would it have been so hard for the
    professor” to say simply, “Neither, I want it plain”?

  148. Swag Valance says:

    It ain’t news until the barista goes Steven Slater on said customer’s ass.

  149. sebastian tombs says:

    Hold The Pickle, Ho;d The Lettuces, Special Orders Don’t Upset US, All We ask is that You Let Us – Serve It Your Way – Serve It Your Way – At Burger King

  150. Pentagoon says:

    It’s amazing what qualifies as news. Doesn’t she remember that oh….. about…… let’s say…… 9 years ago a certain set of buildings blew up in her back yard? What happened to the “all New Yorkers are one big happy family” attitude? Humans disgust me sometimes, especially dried up, opinionated, self-centered, judgmental, elitist, berating, inflexible, narrow-minded, wrinkle-sacks like her. She should be ashamed of her temper tantrum and someone should make her mop the floors in there for a few days so she knows what it’s like to actually work for a living.

    Please pass the humility, but hold the butter and cheese.

  151. dwarftoad says:

    This has nothing to do with linguistics.

    (Just some people being assholes for no reason.)

  152. Spaceboss says:

    There is no excuse for being rude to the barista. None. It’s not her fault that Starbucks regulations are asinine. Her overzealous adherence to the letter of Starbucks law was silly, but a shouting match is the wrong answer. The customer should have sucked it up, ordered the bagel without butter and cheese (HOW HARD IS IT TO SPEAK THREE EXTRA WORDS?), and then complained to management later. The girls behind the counter get more than their fair share of crap from entitled buttholes: adding more benefits no one.

    Also, basic safety rule of eating at restaurants #1: never, never be mean to the people handling your food. I guarantee you do not understand the things they can do to you.

  153. guroth says:

    Professors are pedant, stubborn, and want to impose their BELIEFS AND PREFERENCES on everyone around them; especially English professors.

  154. Darwin says:

    She can sit alone and hungry in her ivory tower.

  155. skakh says:

    Oh my, another reason to avoid Starbucks. The Starbucks employee – just one more minimally qualified person with a feeling of power. Personally, I prefer to frequent my local coffee shops. I have never, ever ordered a “venti”. It is so silly, just give me a cup of coffee!

  156. jimstoic says:

    This has nothing to do with “correct English.” The procedure for ordering may be idiotic, but it neither uses nor requires the use of incorrect English.

  157. jimstoic says:

    This made me want to go to Starbucks. Gotta go.

  158. BruceC says:

    I ordered a Multi-grain bagel with no butter and no (cream) cheese and it has raisins in it. Should I say “no raisins” next time and they’ll pluck out the raisins for me?

  159. ChilisServer says:

    Bad behavior all around. The barista could have taken the order in another way besides “butter or cheese, with or without”, and the professor should have just given her order as she was asked for it. The professor would have gotten the bagel she wanted, and the barista wouldn’t have had to argue and argue. Everyone wins.

  160. Xtopher says:

    Here’s what we do in normie world:

    “Can I have a multi-grain bagel?”
    “Sure, do you want anything on that?”
    “No, thanks.”

    Man, that is some difficult stuff. Forget Palestine vs. Israel, we need Starbucks diplomacy, stat.