The Starbucks Cop

For years now, Starbucks has been the office of choice for the ultra-hip tech lawyer who can’t afford a place of his own.  But as Philly Police Officer Joe Leighthardt explained on Facebook, police want their own access to the Temple of Frappucino, telling the story of a bro-cop whose needs went, ahem, unfulfilled.

 I walk into the Starbucks at 13th and Chestnut in full uniform and ask the young blonde liberal behind the counter if I could use their public bathroom for which you need a key code and she states, in a loud voice so all the other customers can hear that the bathroom is for paying customers only. I then ask in a very polite manner if I could please use it. She then states in the same loud manner and a smirk “Are you a paying customer?” It was at this point that I realized what she was doing. As I walked out with my hand up and while she continued loudly to tell me about the bathroom down the street, I was even more astonished that the many customers and other employees said nothing and seemed indifferent. This is the world cops live in anymore. It’s hip for this generation to berate and totally disrespect cops in front of the public and praise cop killers as the heroes of they’re (sic) time. I never post things but I hope my fellow brothers and sisters in blue see this and know that we have each other… and not to patronize that Starbucks.

Damn them “young blonde liberals” and their lack of urinempathy.  Did she really expect a police officer to buy a coffee? Does she know nothing of tradition?

Nice coffee shop you got here, little lady. It would be a shame if anything was to happen to it.

No barista wants to put her sweet job at risk by ignoring the rules her employer imposes on the use of the facilities.  You see, the place sells coffee, a notorious diuretic, and clean restrooms are one of the main draws for Starbucks lawyers, who want their clients to have a sanitary place to relieve themselves.

And why shouldn’t they?  These lawyers are sucking down Venti lattes (gluten-free) like nobody’s business, and showing their largesse by offering their clientele a sweet mochaccino, a deal-closer every time.  Why should the paying customers have to suffer the indignity of a client staring at a seat aimed at the ceiling and a former occupant who didn’t aim at all?

But what of empathy?  What of appreciation of the hard work police do to protect businesses from murderers and bench-sitters?  After all, do police not put their lives at risk for Starbucks?  Doesn’t that deserve a little respect?

I was even more astonished that the many customers and other employees said nothing and seemed indifferent. This is the world cops live in anymore.

This is the world cops have made for themselves.  There are two potential takeaways from the indifference to police personal needs.  One, that they all just “totally disrespect cops” because it’s “hip.”  The other is that the public isn’t as impressed with police as cops believe they should be.  And then there are those “young blonde liberals,” who ‘praise cop killers as the heroes of they’re (sic) time.”

More than usual, the police view of a little accommodation has merit when it comes to nature’s call.

“No one is asking for special treatment, but when your ‘office’ is a police car and you’re running from job to job in Philadelphia, I’d (sic) he supposed to hold in? Pee on the sidewalk? I’ll bet your job has a bathroom within 100 yards,” Leighthardt wrote. “Cops don’t.

It’s a fair point.  Somebody should have given this occupational hazard a bit of thought along the way, creating perhaps public toilets where public servants could address their non-public needs.  Yes, Virginia, even cops have bodily functions. While the barista might have a problem with cleaning up afterward, given the notorious inability of police to hit what they’re aiming at, the same can be said of many others.

And this particular Starbucks calls the police several times a week for things as simple as someone sitting on the bench outside their property.”

But what’s the point of adding this bit of inside info?  Does Leighthardt think that cops only show up as a favor to businesses who take good care of them?  Does Philly not pay its police to, you know, police?  Does the beloved discretion afforded the “fellow brothers and sisters in blue” apply to remembering who wouldn’t give you a free latte let you pee?

Had this been my establishment, I would have let the cop use the restroom.  Then again, I would let anyone who needs to go use the restroom, because when someone has to go, they have to go.  Of course, when that happens to someone who isn’t a cop, who doesn’t enjoy the accommodations police expect for themselves, and, say, “pee on the sidewalk,” a cop might arrest them and do his utmost to put them on the sex offender registry.

Hey, maybe that’s why the “young blonde liberal” doesn’t show the cop the respect he thinks he deserves?  Or it could be the Philly police department’s lingering memory of Frank Rizzo. You never know.

In any event, Starbucks appears to have fixed the problem by opening its facilities to police in need, regardless of whether they’re customers.  That’s very kind of the chain to be so concerned for the welfare of officers.  Plus, they really like their stores, and it would be a shame if something bad was to happen to them.


39 thoughts on “The Starbucks Cop

  1. Tim Cushing

    Snopes points out that this incident happened at some unknown point in time well before Officer Leighthardt took it upon himself to right the wrongs of the world by posting something that (possibly) happened to someone else to Starbucks’ Facebook page.

    Of course, no one’s going to question the story too much because a.) cops are honest and b.) the whole world hates/targets/kills cops right at the moment, or haven’t you heard…

    1. SHG Post author

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. For my purposes, the critical piece is that Leighthardt posted it, not whether it’s true or accurate. And there is no doubt as to that being a fact.

  2. David C. Wells

    I agree that the cop makes a valid point about needing to go while on the job, but is it really the rest of the world’s responsibility to provide them with places to do so? It’s usually a pretty minimal request, but I’m not sure it’s something officers can or should reasonably expect as a universal practice. (Of course, truly “public” restrooms would have to be paid for with public funds, and that’s a whole ‘nother can o’ worms…)

    For my part, I’d like to see a constitutional showdown, in which a cop demands access to the Starbucks bathroom on official police business subject to the “exigent circumstances” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, and the employee objects that being required to provide restroom facilities to cops who are not paying customers constitutes an uncompensated taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. I don’t think anything useful would come of it—it’d just be entertaining.

  3. Bruce Coulson

    “No barista wants to put her sweet job at risk by ignoring the rules her employer imposes on the use of the facilities.” And one would think that another worker, even one well protected by Civil Service regulations (as opposed to unprotected by Right to Fire…errr…Work laws) would understand this. The barista doesn’t get to change the rules just because it’s a police officer requesting an exemption. For that matter, it’s unlikely her manager could, either. Does Officer Leighthardt live in a world where his employers’ rules and laws are merely suggestions? On second thought, maybe I don’t want an answer to that…

  4. Martin Goodson

    “No one is asking for special treatment, but when your ‘office’ is a police car and you’re running from job to job in Philadelphia, I’d (sic) he supposed to hold in? Pee on the sidewalk? I’ll bet your job has a bathroom within 100 yards,” Leighthardt wrote. “Cops don’t.

    Neither do taxi drivers, couriers, garbage truck drivers, you name it. I notice that the officer doesn’t seem too concerned about them. I wonder if some outraged bicycle courier out there will be posting a similar missive about how he isn’t asking for special treatment but is he supposed to hold it in? I wonder if Starbucks would be so accommodating, or do you suppose they’d be explaining store policy and suggesting the bicycle courier buy a coffee?

    Officer Leighthardt is absolutely, positively, 100% asking for special treatment. And I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t know it.

  5. David M.

    Eh. Assuming the cop isn’t lying about what she said, that barista, whether or not she’s an asshole, is bad at her job. The most basic skill we have is apologizing for our ongoing incompetence/being out of soy milk/the giant rats falling from the ceiling. Even if we choose not to bend the rules for a customer, it’s not hard to be nice about it and keep them from leaving unhappy. I’d be justifiably fired for a screwup of this size.

    That said, the intimation that Leighthardt will tit-for-tat any Starbucks that fails to violate company policy and worship at his personal altar is vile. It’s a data point that fails to surprise me. It is, dare I say, extremely problematic.

    I hate everyone involved in this story. Is there a word for that?

      1. Frank

        Remember, this is the city that booed Santa Claus and threw batteries at a baseball player. The city that meant it when they called the Flyers the “Broad Street Bullies.” The city where the sports segment of the news on all four channels was “All Eagles, All The Time.” In baseball season.

        The city with the 4th worst police department in the nation.

        My home town. In the Tom Lehrer sense of the term.

    1. Sacho

      You don’t need to really assume he’s lying. Personal accounts are unreliable(as a police officer should know!). Presuming he’s not lying, the plausible facts are:
      – walked into the shop in full uniform
      – asked the woman behind the counter if he could use the bathroom
      – she denied him access based on alleged company policy
      – he walked off while she was telling him about the bathroom down the street
      – no one reacted

      But if you add all his coloured opinion of the events, suddenly they turn sinister. She said it in “a loud voice”, she “smirked”, he Realized! what she was doing, and after that Realization! he stormed out of the wretched hive of scum and villainy, that was practically sneering at him in their thoughts.

      You said you’d be “justifiably fired for a screw-up of this size”, but how big was the screw-up, really? Depending on how much you trust or distrust the police officer, your interpretation would vary. Personally, evaluating the venue(facebook) and the tone(rant), I am skeptical.

      1. Jeffrey L. Boyer

        With Ted’s Idiocracy snippet, your Obi-Wan reference, and other delightful past inputs, I’m starting to wonder if I’m reading here for the legal profession insights, or the clever commentary and urinempathy.

        I wonder if the Starbucks employee invoked the ‘policy’ word? I’ve noted that ‘policy’ is often part of a magic phrase meant to absolve some questionable police actions and would think that should have carried considerable weight if used in this situation:

        “Policy you say? Understood completely m’am! Carry on.”

        1. David C. Wells

          Excellent point. Did the Starbucks employee follow protocol in denying the officer the use of the restroom? If so, then there should be no indication of wrongdoing, right?

            1. David C. Wells

              All I meant was that “they followed protocol” also seems to be a “magic phrase” used by law enforcement (see, e.g. this week’s statements by the mayor of Irving, Texas). I hope I didn’t misconstrue anything.

            2. Jeffrey L. Boyer

              No misconstruction David.

              (because…policy/protocol) = (indisputable absolution)

              That phrasing should be in their wheelhouse.

      2. David M.

        What Jeff said. These days, we get classy schoolin’s in the comments. Greenfield deletes all the losers.

        While I completely agree as far as your argument goes, I think you miss the point. Is one of your “plausible facts” – that the barista “denied him access based on alleged company policy” by saying “Are you a paying customer?” – true or false? If false, Leighthardt’s a liar, and it’s hard to argue her conduct provoked his disjointed rant. If it’s true, it’s an offensive and graceless thing to say, and whether or not she meant to sass the cop, she’s guilty of Bad Baristaing.

  6. losingtrader

    My take is the real point of this post has nothing to do with police, and everything to do with you not using Starbucks as your office. What happened? Did you try this once and someone admitted to a murder within earshot of everyone pretending to be using their laptop?

    Don’t these attorneys know that an office and a Nespresso machine are cheaper than drinking Starbucks every day?
    IAs an aside, I also note you are not abiding by Vegas’ “Thank a Cop Week.” Always a rebel.

  7. John Barleycorn

    Who would of thought you had the ability to simeatainiously combine your ballet skills with a forty yard touchdown run up the middle in a single post?

    Impressive bit foot work esteemed one.

    Delicate but brutal.

  8. Frank

    Back before the Great Entitlement, there were such things as hospital urinals and even wide-mouth mason jars suitable for the likes of PIs and law enforcement.

Comments are closed.