After a patron was caught on camera angrily opposing COVID-19 protocols at a View Royal Starbucks, Greater Victoria School Trustee Ryan Painter was inspired to create a campaign to collect hand-made paper hearts and kind messages to bring joy to the employees who tried to defuse the situation.
On Monday, Nov. 30, a video was circulated on social media depicting “an abusive encounter” at the Eagle Creek Village Starbucks, Painter explained. The patron didn’t want to follow the company’s pandemic safety guidelines and began to verbally abuse staff when they asked him to follow the rules.
The man was arrested in Langford later that same day following a similar incident at a Peninsula Co-op gas station on Millstream Road and charged under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act for failing to wear a face-covering – a $230 fine.
I think the staff at Eagle Creek Village Starbucks will enjoy this.
Thanks to the community for stepping up!!
— Ryan Painter (@ryanlpainter) December 4, 2020
On Dec. 1, West Shore RCMP was made aware of the video showing the man’s outburst at Starbucks in View Royal. RCMP issued him a second ticket for failing to wear a face covering.
After seeing the video, Painter decided he wanted to “change the conversation” and “inject some positive, good vibes” into the situation by doing something kind for the Starbucks staff. On Monday afternoon, he created a campaign to encourage members of the community to make paper hearts covered in nice words which he would then deliver to the coffee shop.
The goal was to provide the staff with “encouraging messages from the community and to thank them for their work,” he explained, adding that staff were very respectful when engaging with the aggressive man despite what he was saying to them.
“I wanted to create a little bit of a campaign in the community to help show them that just like they’ve got our backs, we’ve got theirs,” he said.
Painter rallied the community through social media and about 30 hearts were contributed overall – some were hand-painted and others carried encouraging messages for the staff.
Once all the hearts had been collected from residents across Greater Victoria, he pasted them all to a large poster board decked out with bright colours and metallic stars. On Friday afternoon, he brought the completed project down to the Eagle Creek Starbucks and said staff were very appreciative.
As COVID-19 case numbers rise and the holiday season approaches, people are getting anxious and feeling upset that families can’t gather this year, Painter said.
“This made me feel really good. The community stepped up in a huge way,” he said. “It just felt like the right thing to do.”