Friday, August 15, 2008

Walking the Beat - No Discounts

The last time that I had a cup of Starbuck’s coffee (Decaf) was at Tampa International Airport. The cup of coffee and a small pastry me cost more than $7. But this was at the Airport where a beer cost $5. This was the last time that I will ever spend a cent in a Starbucks.

It’s not because Starbucks’ prices are outrageous for the value that you receive. It’s not because many of their employees act like the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. Nor is it because Starbucks recently closed down a portion of their stores; and therefore put many of their “Coffee Nazis” on the unemployment payroll.

The reason that I have a beef with Starbucks stems from an article that I read in the online version of the Chicago Tribune last week.

A veteran Chicago cop was suspended for 18 months for demanding coffee and pastries at a Starbucks on her beat.

Starbucks Corporate management has no official policy regarding free coffee for police, leaving that decision up to each franchise. Most stores give a uniformed Officer a free 12oz coffee or tea. The suspended officer demanded a larger size coffee and would come more than once per day. Then she started to ask for a pastry with her coffee, when the “Coffee Nazis” said no way, she became belligerent. The nerve some people have!

This prompted the Starbucks District Manager to send a memo to other stores in the area stating that this officer was no longer welcome in Starbucks. Imagine being barred from Starbucks.

Although most Police Departments have an official policy of no freebies, this policy is often overlooked. There is a symbiotic relationship between Cops and places that serve Coffee and Pastries.

Years ago my Dad told me that I didn’t have to like Cops, but that I should always respect them for the thankless job that they perform. My older cousin was a Chicago Cop who was killed in the line of duty. My younger cousin has been a Chicago Cop for more than 30 years. I wonder if they ever asked for or expected to get a freebie.

Which reminds me of a classic story told by my friend Slow Eddie.

The event happened on an Election Day (Chicago bars were to stay closed until the Polls closed) in a neighborhood Bar that we called Blackie’s (not the real name of the Bar but the owner’s nickname was Blackie).

It was 4 in the afternoon and Slow Eddie (17 years old at the time) was dying for a beer and he knew that Blackie’s would be open. When he arrived there were 2 customers at the bar playing penny a point gin rummy with Blackie (who always sat on a stool behind the Bar, next to the window, in the corner).

Slow sits down and orders a 5 cent 10 ounce draft beer. Blackie serves him two saying that he doesn’t want to be getting up that often. Halfway through his first beer, the door opens and in walks a uniformed Police Officer. He sits down next to Slow, giving him the eye.

Now Slow was crapping in his pants, thinking that he was busted for sure. It didn’t seem to faze Blackie who was illegally open, gambling and serving a minor.

After a minute or two (a lifetime for Slow Eddie), Blackie looks up from his cards and says to the Cop “I’m not getting up for you, go get it yourself.” The Officer then walked behind the bar and got himself a beer and bag of chips. He sat back down and said to Slow “How ya doin’.” When he left the bar he left a tip for Blackie.

The Beach Bum

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Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

If I was in the situation that Starbucks was in, I'd wonder how much more will this person demand. Are we being shaken down?

At the least she acted in a unprofessional manner. At the worst she was sizing them up to see if she can coerce them into paying protection money.

Looks like Treasure Island is going to get slammed by Fay.

Sun Aug 17, 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Sounds like a rough place to live.

Tue Aug 19, 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

Caffeine junkies are the worst.

Tue Aug 19, 11:57:00 PM  
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