A disgruntled sailor who made numerous references to his alleged service with the SEALs was at the center of a public spectacle in Coronado last weekend when, with his mask removed, he confronted two teenage employees from one of the quiet island community’s more enjoyable coffee shops.
Cell phone footage captured the incident, as has been the case with so many other bristling exchanges relating to mask use in the COVID-19 era.
“First of all, you’re going to listen to me because I’m a customer and I’ve been coming here since 2009,” the man says at the shop’s walk-up window, his mask dangling from one ear. “I will tell everyone at the [SEAL] teams never to come back here again, including the dudes in BUD/S.”
If the Navy association wasn’t obvious enough, the individual then calls the shop’s customer service “unsat,” a word he employs alongside an angry, pointed index finger, as is tradition. (Knife hands are also an acceptable form of added emphasis.)
The individual then tells the window attendant that he “was down at Team 7. That’s where I came through, 2009.”
That, of course, would be the same SEAL Team 7 that recently had its entire senior leadership team relieved of duty in the wake of a series of sexual assault, fraternization and other allegations.
A Navy spokesperson confirmed with Military Times that the individual is assigned to Naval Special Warfare Command.
“The actions of the Sailor highlighted in the video are currently under investigation,” Lt. Matthew Stroup said. “We require humility and professionalism from all Naval Special Warfare service members. We value our long-standing relationship with the local community and will continue to foster a positive relationship in the future.”
Humility was noticeably absent in the viral video.
“The way that guy just talked to me — not only that, he’s uneducated on the policies of the state of California, what makes the law the law. He needs to do a little reading, maybe go back to school,” the sailor says, referencing the high school student who has been unable to go back to school because of COVID-19′s proliferation and widespread sensitivity toward pieces of cloth.
The actual law, announced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, requires all residents of the state to wear a mask in public spaces.
“To prevent infection, you must cover your nose and mouth when outside your home,” the official government of California website states. “Wearing a mask is now required statewide.”
A coffee shop window would count as “outside your home” in most cases, but this is 2020. Since when does America let facts and scientific evidence get in the way of a grandiose public display of full-diaper sass?
“The next time he talks to me like that I’m not coming back to your guys’ establishment,” the sailor threatens. “I’m not getting coffee here. I’m going over to Starbucks, which I can’t stand.”
True sacrifice. Greater love has no one than this: to abandon one’s preferred coffee due to hurt feelings.
As the rant finally approaches its conclusion, one woman, simply looking for sustenance, innocently interjects, “Excuse me, can ... can I get my order?”
But the sailor hears the pleas of no one above his own and presses on.
“You guys need to update your staff on how to treat customers,” he says, with the nourishment-less woman groaning off camera.
Clayton’s Coffee Shop responded to the incident in a dejected Facebook post, saying the “continuous resistance to wearing masks has been disheartening.”
“We respectfully ask all of our guests to comply with California’s orders to wear masks when at our establishment, and have given permission to our staff to respectfully require this of all guests. In order to continue to stay open for business, we must adhere to this.”
A mother of one of the teenage baristas told ABC10News that the man’s actions that day served as “a terrible demonstration of the way some people behave and bully the folks that are most vulnerable.”
Lynne Papaconstantinou, the manager of the nearby High Tide Bottle Shop and Kitchen, also weighed in and scoffed at the “I’ll take my business elsewhere” threats from the small faction of mask-less rogues.
“We have very few people that come here and don’t want to wear a mask,” she told ABC10. “If they don’t, I just ask them to leave. If they say, ‘Well then, you’ve lost my business,’ well then, we lost your business.”
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.