Yesterday after a few hours of waiting around to submit paperwork for my visa, I stopped by Starbucks for a semi-quiet place to read my Library class homework. I chose a corner table and seat.
From the time I got in line, I noticed an older woman with a very proud face taking pictures of a young woman in a purple shirt. She followed this girl around the café so I thought the girl was her daughter. The girl left and the woman returned to a seat in front of my table. She looked very artsy and youthful, but it was weird that she was taking so many pictures of people. You can do that on the street, but not inside a business or private venue without permission. She started to really irritate the customers.
At one point she grabbed a bag of coffee bean and started yelling questions to the baristas. They responded politely, but did look apprehensive.
A young couple sat on the other side of me. The woman started photographing them, particularly the woman, who immediately told her to stop. Then the photographer got angry. She did seem to be itching for a fight and she got one. She started yelling at the woman near me and showing her National I.D. card. The guy with the young woman started defending her. He then turned to me and said in English, that the photographer was crazy. I asked what she was saying and he said she’s telling everyone that she’s a college professor.
The argument escalated till the photographer threw her tumbler, which was full of milk, at the couple’s table. No one was hurt, but glass shattered everywhere and the milk splattered all over the place.
The manager came forward while the security guards were called. When a young, skinny guard, a young Chinese Don Knotts, arrived he just peered through the window. Eventually, two managers of the security company appeared and began talking with the photographer and the girl who was her target.
Two police officers came. The young one held a camera to record the interaction. The photographer became extra gracious and offered them seats at her table. The declined the offer and stood. There was some arguing back and forth and the older officer wrote some notes. New customers came in and gawked while lining up for their Frappuccino’s and cheesecake. Amidst all this yelling and attempts to deescalate the tension, I’m pretending to do homework and wishing I spoke Chinese.
Pretty soon, the photographer was asked to leave. I was surprised that the police just let her go. She was clearly mentally disturbed, still very angry, still able to take photos to annoy people and within walking range of at least a dozen coffee shops. I expected them to take her in to let her cool down and assess her story. She didn’t just take photos of people. She threw an object that she knew could hurt someone. That was her intention.