It was a scene that could have been plucked right out of Rockwell’s 1982 unintentionally hilarious paranoid music video “Somebody’s Watching Me.” I was at Starbucks with my wife working on a project and I had that proverbial feeling of being watched. It was hard to not have the feeling since the guy watching me was also standing over me, brazenly auditing my computer activity. I looked up and our eyes met. Without warning, he snatched my laptop right off the table. My wife screamed. I did too.
Despite being packed with a bunch of people staring at their cellphones, as Starbucks usually is, nobody filmed what happened next. I suspect they were all frozen from shock as they watched the guy accuse me of hacking into his cellphone with my laptop. He also accused me of calling him a slave (he was a black guy, as am I–I was even growing an afro at the time–so the “slave” part was a little confusing). This guy was so convinced that he was being hacked that when Starbucks management called the police, he waited for them to arrive–so that he could report me! I have no idea how that panned out for him since his take didn’t square with the one the management told. I didn’t bother sticking around for the aftermath. My wife and I got the hell out of there. I went home and did a sketch of what happened. By this point, I had already done several dozen sketches just like this one.
My sketches began in 2011, after I abandoned my graphic design studio in Buffalo, New York, and moved to downtown Toronto to start a new life with my wife-to-be. I made Starbucks my new “office” space, which resulted in my spending way too much time there. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just work from home. Just know that for seven years I saw and experienced a lot crazy shit, all of which I documented as drawings. When I shared them on Facebook, people thought the stories were funny and I soon realized that I wasn’t the only person with crazy Starbucks stories. On the advice of many friends, I’m sharing a few of the drawings and stories here.
More info: medium.com
“Somebody’s Watching Me”
The paranoid laptop snatcher
Babbling Goth Girl
This is when a goth girl came to my Starbucks table and started rambling to me about some shit I couldn’t understand, and neither could she. She was definitely high on something and she changed her accent three times.
This one is of a Starbucks regular who would always come in with a rotary phone but no cords. In his mind that made it wireless. Within a minute or so a “call” would come in and he’d blabber away. A few times I’ve seen him transfer calls to somewhere else.
Race Fight! Fight! Fight!
This guy is one of my favorite Starbuckers. He regularly gets into arguments with an imaginary black guy. Sooner or later the dispute results in him knocking the black guy the fuck out. Then he somewhat apologetically tells the black guy that this has nothing to do with race because he “doesn’t see color”, which I find hysterical. He can see this imaginary guy, but not his color. Anyway, I have to give props to the black guy. He’s a true Apollo Creed. No matter how many times he gets KO’d he keeps coming back for more.
I don’t know if this guy was a “hipster” (still not really sure what hipsters are). I just remember that 1) he had on a corduroy jacket that was bought from a thrift store, 2) he had a beard that made me think of the word “esquire.” Not sure why, but that was the word that came to mind when I saw it. 3) He had a mohawk to go with the esquire beard and 4) he was on a serious funk mission. I’ve been funktified a few times in my day, sometimes even at Starbucks, but never like that. This brotha’s armpits was straight up hot coal and smoke.
Here a gentleman junkie tapped on my window and waved hello. I waved back and he took that as an invitation to come inside for a meet-n-greet. The employees quickly ran him out, which I can sort of understand. He was polite, but his teeth made everyone a little nervous.
Nude Outdoor Yoga
This scary motherfucker decided to do some half-nude yoga right in front of my window view. His breathing techniques included chomping the air. Nobody seemed to notice him but me. You may notice that my hair is fucked up. That’s because I had tried cutting it myself and did a piss-poor job.
Assault and Flattery
This old man saw me working on my laptop and asked if I was a student. I told him no and my age, both of which shocked him (I was 39 at the time). He then asked what I did for a living. When I told him that I worked on a laptop he sort of frowned at me. “That ain’t work. Look at this,” he said and rotated his arm to show how badly injured it was. “That comes from real work.” Not to be outdone, I explained to him that I had a bad wrist, a bad back and poor vision because of my “work.” He then said to me, “No kidding. Well, I’d offer you to work at my place but you can’t do nothing with those girly hands except tickle my balls, and if you tried that I’d smack the shit out of you.”
Boots and Boxers. Nothing Else.
I don’t even know what to say about this hairy motherfucker. All I know is that he walked up to the barista and asked if he could borrow some scissors, presumably to do something about all of that hair. The barista told him that she didn’t have any spare scissors, which was a bold-faced lie, but the guy shrugged it off and left. Oh, and I forgot to mention that all he had on was boxers and work boots.
Star Wars at Starbucks
This dude was energetically marching up and down the store humming StarWars theme music. He made me very nervous, not because I sensed the dark side in him, but because he twice came close to grazing my table and spilling my coffee. At one point he started doing Jedi jujitsu moves in the middle of the store, which sent people scrambling. That was enough to make the manager 86 him, but not before he tried to stop her with The Force. It didn’t work so he left, without incident, to complete his training elsewhere.
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