The “mask debate” is a hot topic right now in the United States. Some people follow rules to wear a mask inside public places in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while others choose not to wear a mask. This has caused many businesses to be torn over how they should introduce new policies to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In June 2020, a Starbucks employee in San Diego, California refused to serve a customer because she wasn’t wearing a mask. You would think this would cause an uproar of criticism about the barista, but instead, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for the barista, Lenin Gutierrez. Within days, people helped raise more than $16,000 for him. This is the biggest tip Gutierrez has ever received.

Face Mask Order

In June 2020, Gutierrez was working his usual shift at Starbucks when he noticed a customer, Amber Lynn Gilles, wasn’t wearing a face mask. As of May 1, San Diego County required all residents to wear face masks in public places, including restaurants. According to the county, “Everyone should help protect others by following health orders.”

The statement also read, “We can’t expect law enforcement to make sure every person is wearing a face covering. But if you don’t wear one, you can be cited or not allowed into businesses, on transit, or in other areas.”

Even with this order in place, customers have not abided by the rules. When Gutierrez noticed one of his customers wasn’t wearing a mask, he decided to follow the county’s guidelines. But it didn’t work out too well for him at first.

Refusing The Service

Gilles wasn’t wearing a mask, so Gutierrez said he couldn’t serve her. This angered the woman, who has been referred to as “Karen” on social media. She cursed him before he had the chance to explain the county’s regulations, as well as what he was informed by his boss. She cursed everyone in the shop, calling them “sheep.”

Then, she posted a picture of Gutierrez wearing a mask on Facebook, complaining that she wasn’t served when she walked into the coffee shop without wearing a mask.

Gilles wrote, “Meet Lenon from Starbucks who refused to serve me ‘cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time, I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.” Her Facebook post has been shared 46,000 times.

Gilles probably thought she was going to attract attention with positive remarks about her, but it was just the opposite. Social media users supported Gutierrez, who was following the county’s order.

A Large Tip

Within days after Gilles made her Facebook post, Matt Cowan created a GoFundMe page for Gutierrez. He described, “Raising money for Lenin for his honorable effort standing his ground when faced with a Karen in the wild.” Every donation made would be considered a “personal gift” to the barista.

Cowan didn’t think that many people would donate money, but he was quickly proven wrong. He told KGTV, “I set it [the target goal] at $1,000, thinking that was a reach, but we would be lucky if we hit like $250, and when we hit $100, I was overwhelmed by that.”

He added, “Everybody is rallying around somebody for doing what they’re supposed to do and trying to protect everyone else. It just goes to show you there are a lot of good people out there and that outweighs the bad.”

Cowan plans to give the money to Gutierrez, who can then decide how he wants to use the donation, now up to $105,445. Gutierrez posted a video on his personal Facebook page, thanking everyone who donated money. With the donation, he can now pursue his dream of becoming a dancer, as well as teaching children in dance. He commented, “With this donation, I can make these dreams a reality. I can fuel my passion even better now.”

Gilles probably wanted to stir up trouble with her original post, but it backfired on her. Instead, it helped inspire positive change for someone. Now, Gutierrez can follow his dreams, and he has an entire community of people who are rooting for him along the way.