This is not a Starbucks by Sarah Fader

When Sarah called me on Friday to tell me this story I could not let it die between us. Too much good stuff in real life to write about. She told me she thanked the woman for giving her material for a blog post. -Allie

I don’t even know what just happened to me. I dropped the kids off with their dad and I decided to go into the beauty supply store that is down the street from his house to buy some three dollar mascara.

As I reached for the mascara I noticed that my phone was about to die. I scanned the store looking for an outlet to charge my phone in. All at once I saw a glorious outlet right next to the cash register.

I purchased the three dollar mascara and I turned to the woman behind the counter who had a sullen face on. After she handed me my change I asked, “Would you mind if I charged my phone for a few minutes?” She did not respond with a word, but simply grunted.

I wasn’t sure how to interpret her response so I tentatively moved toward the outlet while looking at her to see if she would react while I plugged my phone in. She turned away and did not say anything.

I then asked if she had any eyeshadow in the store. All at once she exclaimed, “This is not a Starbucks! Are you going to charge your phone for the next twenty minutes?”

I was in shock. I could not believe that this woman just yelled at me out of the blue. I felt as if I were either hallucinating or a character in and absurdist play.

“I know this is not a Starbucks; it’s a beauty supply store. And I am a customer that just bought something from you,” I said to her calmly. “I asked you if you would mind if I charged my phone and you didn’t say anything so I thought it was okay.”

I was met with the same blank stare. I could only imagine what was going on inside this woman’s head. She was very angry for some unknown reason.

“You can’t just charge your phone in here! This is not a Starbucks.”

Apparently she really wanted me to know that the store that we were standing in was not a Starbucks. At this point I thought we had established this already so I was confused and frustrated.

“Yes I understand that. But I am a customer that has purchased something from you and I am continuing to shop in your store and I don’t understand why charging my phone is making you so angry,” I countered.

“You are the first customer who did this!” she exclaimed.

“Okay. I may be the first person who has done this here, but I assure you that this is not a strange thing to do. Many people charge their phones in stores.

“But this is not a Starbucks!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air.

We went back and forth like this for a while and finally another employee walked up to us to see what all the commotion was about.

“What’s going on here?” the employee asked. At first I was afraid because I didn’t know if the employee would side with the grumpy woman. But then she said, “Why won’t you let this woman charge her phone?”

I made a tremendous attempt to stifle my laughter at that point in time. I did it though.

I walked over to the eyeshadow aisle and the nice employee who defended me and showed me some brown and tan tones. I decided on what I was going to buy and walked up to the grumpy woman to purchase it. I handed the sullen woman the package of eyeshadow and attempted to take my wallet out of my bag. Then the most bizarre thing happened. The woman took the package of eyeshadow while eyeing me and shook her head no! She then went to hide the package of eyeshadow underneath the counter.

“Are you not going to let me buy that?” I asked her.

“You charged your phone!” she said.

“Okay this is crazy,” I said. “She’s not letting me buy this eyeshadow,” I said, turning to the nice employee who helped me find the eyeshadow in the aisle. “Can I buy it from you?”

The lovely employee took the eyeshadow from the angry cashier and rung me up.

I left the store with my bag of inexpensive make up and came to one conclusion…

Clearly Mercury is in retrograde and everybody is insane in Sunnyside Queens.


Sarah Fader is the founder and CEO of the mental health non-profit Stigma Fighters. It has been featured on Good Day New York, The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
Her personal mental health story has been featured on The Huffington Post andHuffPost Live. Read her Stigma Fighters Essay here. She writes a column called Panic Life for Psychology Today.

One thought on “This is not a Starbucks by Sarah Fader

  1. H.M. JOnes Reply

    This is not a Starbucks, this is the great Allie Burke’s website! Don’t you dare charge your phone here. Clearly it wasn’t a Starbucks. You should have known this because Starbucks has a very strict policy on costumer relations, so their help is usually very nice. Almost too nice. 🙂 What an experience. I can only think, “What was going on in that head?”

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