This article by Paul Szoldra originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.
A Navy SEAL apparently upset over being told to wear a face mask on Sunday at a Southern California coffee shop berated a barista and threatened to tell the entire West Coast SEAL community to avoid the establishment, according to a viral video that appeared online this week.
A Reddit post titled “Navy SEAL Karen loses it at restaurant worker” showed a portion of the incident, which was filmed at Clayton’s Coffee Shop in Coronado, California.
“If I ever see that guy again and if he talks to me like that, I will never, ever…” the man said in the video. “I will tell everyone at the [SEAL] teams never to come back here again, including the dudes in BUD/S,” he added, using the acronym for the initial SEAL training course, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL.
It remains unclear exactly what happened before the sailor’s outburst. The video suggests the man took offense at a male barista’s remarks before filming began.
However, an employee of the shop told Task & Purpose the man was told to wear a face mask due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I’m not getting coffee here. I’m going over to Starbucks, which I can’t stand,” the man added in the video.
A Navy spokesman confirmed the man was a sailor assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Command but declined to offer more specifics. The incident is currently under investigation.
“We require humility and professionalism from all Naval Special Warfare service members,” said Lt. Matthew Stroup. “We value our long-standing relationship with the local community and will continue to foster a positive relationship in the future.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued a statewide order in June making it mandatory for people to wear face masks when out in public in California.
In the video, a face mask is seen dangling from the man’s left ear. The man later claimed to be a member of SEAL Team 7, which is based at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Stroup, the Navy spokesman, declined to say whether he was a SEAL, citing operational security.
On the local Coronado Happenings Facebook group, a woman posted the video and said her daughter worked at Clayton’s. “They are all trained to *politely* ask customers to don masks in close quarters,” she wrote. “This is the nonsense a 17-year-old girl barista has to endure from customers who don’t like it.”
The management of Clayton’s Coffee Shop did not respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose. However, shop owner Mary Frese wrote in a Facebook post that “there was an unfortunate event that occurred yesterday at our Coffee Shop takeout window. 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,” Frese added.
The city of Coronado has reluctantly enforced the mask order, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, resulting in eight restaurants shutting down over the past two weeks as employees test positive for the virus. Cases on the small peninsula across the San Diego bay have more than tripled in the last month.
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