While traveling, or waiting to travel, I’ve spent one in a half days purchasing Starbucks and sitting in there, with my stuff organized and out of the way, getting work done or surfing the net, drinking the beverage that I bought with my money. Today, I dealt with what was seemingly a combination of racism & discrimination at the Starbucks connected to the Barnes & Nobles (I’d like to make it clear that Barnes & Nobles was not involved. You actually have to purchase your books/magazines before you enter the Starbucks. So, I’d like to make that clear and that this is not a slight against the entire Starbucks corporation.) at 1201 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (I believe that the Starbucks address is actually 308 Wilshire Blvd). Yesterday, I came in with all my stuff. I purchased a green tea. I organized out of the way and two of my bags, I put in a back section, that was still open to the public, and very close to me, just to make sure that it wasn’t in the way. I sat down to write and surf the net, which is part of the amenities of purchase (a place to sit, drink your drink, use the bathroom, at your will, however, and free Wi-Fi). The manager whose name was DANIEL came to me saying that I needed to move my stuff (I’d like to say that this is the same manager DANIEL that I dealt with today). He said and I quote “You can put it all in front of you as long as it’s not in the way or obstructing space (as in, he says “tripping space”). So, I I moved my stuff in front of me and all was cool. The employees were there to witness this and it was yesterday March 5th, 2014 that I was in there all day (they might’ve been too busy to see it, but they were there). Matter of fact, I saw him as he left after he got off of work and he said nothing.
Today, I came in and bought my tea and brought my stuff in (the same stuff). He watched me bring my stuff in. Nothing was said. He came to me, after all of that, and said “I’m sorry. I can’t have this in here.” I told him that it’s the same stuff from yesterday and the policy, seemingly, yesterday, was that “as long as all of it was in front of me and not obstructing any space, besides my own, that it was fine” considering that I’d purchased something (not to mention that yesterday, when I put my stuff in the corner before I had to move it, there was someone sitting directly adjacent to it, who could move freely in their chair and never mentioned the stuff at all. It wasn’t even in anyone’s view really but, it wasn’t in a restricted space, either.) Either way, he made a big deal about, which I thought was very contradictory to what had happened the day before, although, even then, I felt that he just knew that forcing me to leave wasn’t plausible (that’s not to say that I wasn’t appreciative of that, but it’s seems to me that considering that travelers frequent this Beach & Promenade, that he’s had many travelers with different amounts of stuff. If it was against the law to have luggage or baggage, then no business would probably prosper, especially one in a place like this).
So, after that, I was generous enough to move my stuff in front of a stone pillar/wall outside of the place, on the sidewalk, in my line’s eye view, and come back in to drink my tea and use my Macbook and write. Then, he comes back and says that it’s obstructing his window space. Now two of my bags were in the window space, so I moved them in front of the pillar, which was not in the window space. I, then, let him know, once he came back complaining that it wasn’t obstructing the window space and that it was public property and that he couldn’t tell me what to do on that property. But, then, again, I was generous enough to move it down to the furthest corner pillar and sit all way in the back to keep an eye on it. He, then, comes back saying “I can’t have you in here”. There were witnesses there. I never raised my voice at him, in the establishment or outside of it, directly or indirectly, (or even really raised my voice at all. I typically don’t yell, at all. though as I moved my stuff, I had personal commentary and he wasn’t out there to hear it [1st Amendment]). I kept moving my stuff, although, I shouldn’t have had to, considering that the day before, the policy was not that and I was just sitting there trying to do what I needed to. I told him that I’d bought something and I wasn’t disturbing the peace or making a scene (he actually was trying to provoke me and the conversation, on my end, was so subtle that no one else in the Starbucks would’ve known , unless they were directly next to us, what was happening, except seeing me move stuff after the conversation) and that my stuff was no longer in his establishment or on his property (which considering that he’s just a manager and not an owner is not legally his property, in terms of deed and ownership) and that I had a right to be there and drink my tea and use their bathroom as I please and their Wi-fi or a paraphrasing of that. He then says that if I won’t leave that he’s calling the police. So, I tell him to call them because I’m not wrong and it’d be good to have my voice heard in this situation.
He calls them and I wait. While I’m waiting, a South Gate police officer, in a squad car and plain clothes walks in the door, sees my stuff on the way, is parked on that street, comes in, gets his drink, leaves out, gets in his car and rides off. I thought to myself, if this wasn’t okay, to have your things on public property as long as your watching it, then he would’ve appraised it at least and asked some questions or asked me to move my things. He didn’t. So, then I noticed (which is pictured above), one bike of what was seemingly a customer, directly in the window space, unattended, and a bike almost adjacent, which seemingly belonged to a customer because I asked the people standing around it, could I photograph it, they said it wasn’t theirs. It was also unattended. either someone just left it or they were in the Starbucks. Considering that the first bike was sitting on the Starbucks window, directly next to the entrance and directly in front of the place, I assume the guys sitting in where bicycle riders. Either way, considering that, from what you can see with your own eyes, my stuff was not obstructing the window space, not directly in front of any doors or signs or even directly in front of the place, if the bikes wren’t a problem that you called police about then, why my stuff. I tried to move it as far as I could and still watch it [not that I should’ve had to, at all]).
After I took the pictures and decided to write this story, I left because I felt like, at least voicing this and being able to have someone hear it, was enough and having proof that there was some discrimination involved, along with the fact that, if there are cameras in the Starbucks, you can see all of what happened yesterday and today, even if his employees were too busy to notice. I’d like to say that I had no problem with bicycles and I didn’t think that it caused a problem. I think that whatever, if it’s not allowed in there, which shouldn’t be bags, and it’s not obstructing the Starbucks sign or the entrance, it should be able to rest wherever the customer so chooses to put it. It seems that if things go any other, you might not have any customers. What we all road bicycles or had huge purse or shopping bags or something. No would be allowed in there.
The police finally arrived. They came over to talk to me about my skateboard, surprisingly, and not in a bad way (and not in a bad way doesn’t mean I believe all police are bad, it’s just considering the circumstances, I wasn’t sure what he would say). It was just banter and cool stuff. Then, I asked them could I talk to them about something that happened in Starbucks and whether it was legal, just to clear it all up. They informed me that they’d come to answer the call and then, proceeded to listen. They didn’t begin by telling me what he’d said or even being presumptuous or abrasive, at all. After I told them the story (the policer officer’s name was also Daniel [a good guy / two good guys. I didn’t get the others name.]), he told me that they should’ve refused my service, in the first place, if they didn’t want the stuff in there, but agreed that since it happened the day before, based on their policies, and I had been allowed to purchase and bring my stuff in there, that there shouldn’t have been any problem, especially since my stuff was very organized. He said I seemed very organized. My stuff was then beside me and one bag was in a corner. They told me I should speak with Starbucks about what happened. Then, we bantered about my skateboard again. I asked if it was cool to have my stuff with me here. He said it was fine. I asked about the stuff in the corner, he said as long as no one mentioned it, it was fine, which the day before I had it there and no one mentioned it, so I’m sure it would be cool (this I only asked because it was in front of what seemingly was storage door. I haven’t seen anyone come out of it yet, but I thought it was only proper to ask and his answer was perfect because if they do use it at some point, it could obstruct their ability to enter and exit with whatever they have. I wouldn’t have a problem with moving it). I moved it to a more inconspicuous place, anyway. Then, we said our goodbyes. He gave me his name and everything was cool.
Essentially, I gather that, on public property, as long as your things are organized and your watching them, for the most part, not that they are harsh at all if you’re not, then it’s okay to have it here . So, then I really began to bring into question what happened in there and I was one of, if not the only. minority/minorities in the store and seemingly the only one who incurred an issue, which didn’t happen the day before, although, making an issue in the first place shouldn’t have happened (I have to make it clear that I haven’t had a problem with any of the other employees/baristas in that specific Starbucks. They give me me things in a timely manner, they’re jovial and even gave hot water and everything). But back to my point about this manager DANIEL (not the police officer) and the situation, if you’re at a table in Starbucks and you put everything under it, then there shouldn’t be a problem. That applies everywhere in Starbucks, I’m sure. I’ve never had a problem with Starbucks at all and there’s actually a Starbucks (that they are renovating) in the same Promenade that I frequented while staying at the Doubletree and they were actually really nice and the drinks were great (my favorite being the Soy Green Tea Frappucino). So, this is not about Starbucks. This is not some race war between people. To me, that doesn’t exist. We all are one. I love all people and not all people are the way he was. This is about DANIEL, the manager of the Starbucks at 308 Wilshire on the corner of the Third Street Promenade.
The police actually said that they would’ve told him that if he wasn’t okay with the bags (which seemingly applies to any traveling customer) than he should’ve refused my purchase (especially considering that this was the second day and that I’d been in there all day the day before, with no problems, except the slight one before he stated the policy, which, again I state was “you can have the bags in here, as long as they’re in front of you and not obstructing walking space [“tripping space”, in his words] or the seat of another customer, which I’m sure it would be up to that customer to complain about, which even when I had the stuff, the day before, in the back, before I moved, she never complained about. She never even moved. I was there the whole time and he would’ve mentioned it, if she did, because he’s the type, I’m gathering from my observations of our experience who would’ve used anything to validate his claims.
It sucks that in this day and age, these kind of things still happen. To say “I can’t have you here” without reason, is complete and total discrimination and BAD BUSINESS, on his part, because I could’ve taken my stuff to a friend’s house or hotel close by, for all he knew and came back, or some safe spot. The point is, that policies don’t change overnight, they have to go through corporate, with any company. No manager can just make things up and change them, at will, however he sees fit (and I’m sure of that because, with this type of business, a discrepancy like this, if someone isn’t this specific, can shed a horrible light on the company, as a whole, especially, if no where on paper you can prove that these are your policies or that they’ve changed that rapidly and you actually have things happening that are exactly the same at the exact same location that, based on your commentary, should be “worse” (since it’s about window presentation or obstruction). I know that it’s not that because I love Starbucks and alway will be a customer, in other places, and maybe in this one, at a different time (considering that later in the night, although I’d purchased some thing earlier, shifts change, and just with hot water, I was able to stay in there and do what I needed to do). But, it’s not good, at all to have things like this happening and reflecting on a good company, who seems to stand for the exact opposite of that type of behavior. It shouldn’t be happening and for him to be so self-assured and smug about his “decision”, which even the Santa Monica police, just legally based on what happened, agree wasn’t correct (which, essentially means that they wouldn’t have put me out), is even worse.
I don’t want to go on and on, but things like this need to be heard because no one else needs to go through that, especially when traveling or anything else. It’s sad because the Promenade is such a cool place. It doesn’t have hours where the outside is closed. You can roam around, write, do whatever as long as you want. The rules don’t even mention loitering or luggage or anything.
Just think about this, I shopped at SuperDry, a couple times. They give you pretty big bags. If I shop there and a lot of other places out here and which can add up to taking up much more space than what I had taken up, plausibly, and I go to Starbucks, the same Starbucks, with all of my purchases, just trying to get a warm beverage and sit down and do whatever doesn’t disturb others, within my RIGHTS (because it is within my rights, once I’ve purchased something [and, technically, I could sip the same cup, all day, which was essentially yesterday and not purposefully, but just because I was busy], also, should I or would I be told to leave then? Is there a certain look or person you have to be to have simple rights allotted to you in a place where you’ve spent your money? I don’t think it should be that way. It hasn’t ever been that way. So, I just think there should be some change and I have a voice and a platform, no matter how small, so I wanted make it known and unavoidable (not that anything falls in the pile with Starbucks and complaints or that there is even a pile. I’m sure there isn’t). I just don’t want it to go uncensured or at least investigated and handled accordingly, because when you do that, you allow others to suffer in future at the same hands. That sounds like I think that it won’t get handled. It’s not that. But, speaking out is no stranger to discrimination.
I’m just one person, with one experience, but it matters, so I had to mention it.