Have you heard the one about Lynne Rosenthal, the English professor who was thrown out of Starbucks for causing an uproar when she refused to specify whether she wanted butter or cheese on the “plain multigrain bagel” she had just ordered? According to The New York Post:
Lynne Rosenthal, a college English professor from Manhattan, said three cops forcibly ejected her from an Upper West Side Starbucks yesterday morning after she got into a dispute with a counterperson—make that barista—for refusing to place her order by the coffee chain’s rules.
Rosenthal, who is in her early 60s, asked for a toasted multigrain bagel—and became enraged when the barista at the franchise, on Columbus Avenue at 86th Street, followed up by inquiring, “Do you want butter or cheese?”
“I just wanted a multigrain bagel,” Rosenthal told The 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.”
The story is almost too absurd. When I first read it (thanks to the cinetrix), it seemed like something straight out of the Onion. But apparently, it’s for real:
“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!'”
“Linguistically, it’s stupid”? I’m not sure I agree this is a linguistic issue. But Rosenthal’s an English teacher, so she must know, right? It would be one thing to say, “I don’t know whether to order a venti or a grande because I can’t remember if that’s the big cup or the small cup of hot cocoa.” But to willfully not respond to the question “butter or cheese?” on the grounds that it’s apparently not “correct English” to have to clarify your order isn’t really advancing the word nerd cause, I’m thinking. However, Rosenthal stands her ground:
“It was very humiliating to be thrown out, and all I did was ask for a bagel,” recalled Rosenthal, who said she holds a Ph.D. from Columbia.
“If you don’t use their language, they refuse to serve you. They don’t understand what a plain multigrain bagel is.”