Starbucks employee with a face mask on(l+r), Starbucks sign and logo(c)

LALIDA BOONMEE/Shutterstock @jelissaberica/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘It won’t kill you to mind your business’: Starbucks barista uses chemo excuse after customer asks why they’re wearing mask

'I work in a pharmacy and get yelled at for wearing a mask.'


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Oct 11, 2023

While COVID is definitely still an issue, and wearing a mask isn’t something anyone should comment on, it’s still happening. But a Starbucks barista had a response ready to go when a customer told them they don’t have to wear a mask anymore.

In a TikTok from a barista named Ryan (@jelissaberica), which by Wednesday had more than 314,000 views, he explains via caption that he lied to the customer.

According to Ryan, the customer said, “You can take off that mask it’s not gonna kill you.”

The barista responded untruthfully that he was going through chemo and “can die if I get sick.”

@jelissaberica 😘 #ate #fyp ♬ original sound – habz.fx

The comments are filled with people sharing their own stories of being questioned for wearing a mask.

“I work in a pharmacy and get yelled at for wearing a mask,” one person wrote.

“I had a patient ask me why I was wearing one,” another commenter said. “Like sir you are literally in the hospital.”

Mask mandates are largely gone and likely won’t be back. But during COVID surges like the one this summer, masks are still recommended, and food service employees are especially at risk.

There weren’t that many commenters calling out the choice to lie about chemotherapy; a couple of people even said they are currently going through the treatment and applaud the choice. Others said they’re going to use this response now.

Of course, the fact that anyone has to use this as an excuse for why they’re wearing a mask in 2023 reflects how much misinfo has clouded the conversation around COVID and masking.

The Daily Dot reached out to Ryan for comment via TikTok DM.

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*First Published: Oct 11, 2023, 11:27 am CDT