Woman films herself going on anti-mask rant to staff at Toronto grocery store
Though it's usually a quick-thinking bystander who manages to pull out their phone and film a good ol' public freakout — which have felt more common lately given public health rules — sometimes it is the perpetrator themself who thinks it prudent to film their dramatic public interaction with the faith that they are the one in the right.
This is exactly what happened at family-run Toronto grocery store Fresh & Wild this week when a woman entered without a face covering, demanded service and caused a scene when staff told her she'd have to mask up or leave.
The unidentified customer entered the downtown store at King Street and Spadina Avenue for a cappuccino on Monday and started filming when she was turned away by an employee who tried to enforce the store's mask policy, their responsibility under Toronto bylaw and provincial order.
In a video of the incident the woman later uploaded to YouTube with the name HoneyB, she is heard stating that she has been in the retailer many times without a mask in the past and was still served, citing an exemption to the rule.
After the employee threatens to call the police on her for recording, she asks another employee to speak to the "boss," and is informed that the man she was already talking with was the manager of his department.
"Legally, you're supposed to have a mask in here," the second staffer explains, to which the woman again says that she has been served in the store before without a face covering and "have never been harassed about it."
"He told me to go, he told me to leave, that's harassment... it's illegal for you," she argues with the cashier. When the conversation goes nowhere, she says she will remain in the store until served, and begins loudly and intentionally coughing as she walks back to the coffee bar.
In the five-and-a-half-minute-long clip, she continues to argue with the attendant at the coffee bar, proceeding to go on an anti-mask rant.
"You can lose your license for refusing someone food or drink, but you clearly don't know that because you're just brainwashed by the TV. A sign told you to wear a face diaper, and you decide to take it out on me and judge me," she says.
She then adds, "You have no idea why I can't wear a mask, and you cannot refuse me... you realize a lung is an excrement and you're essentially just breathing in your own shit," and laughs.
The city of Toronto bylaw 541-2020 does state that "exceptions include people who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, or children under two years old, or those who require accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code," and also that "Proof of a medical condition is not required."
But, some of the woman's comments certainly beg the question of whether she has a valid exemption or is just opposed to masks — and the city does state that "if you can wear a mask but choose not to, a health exemption does not apply" and asks residents to "be honest about needing a medical exemption."
Unfortunately, staff in these situations are unable to know for sure, as Fresh & Wild's manager told blogTO.
"Businesses are between a rock and a hard place: if she tells us she has an exemption and we accept, we'll have 10 other customers asking why we're not enforcing the mandate," he said two days after the confrontation.
"City of Toronto rules are crazy for exemptions, you don't have to show any proof. We politely asked her to leave and she didn't want to accept our request."
This women went to the store with the sole intention of creating drama. I love how people like this blab away about their human rights. What about the rights of others? Clearly, her only concern is for herself. I hope her parents are proud!— Not (@Not98526349) March 11, 2021
Not only did the woman not want to accept the request, but she took it as a slight that she needed to share.
"Fresh & Wild grocery store manager refused me service because I wasn't interested in hearing his lecture about other people's health," she wrote in the caption to her video, which has been viewed only 39 times at the time of publication.
She also demands a public apology from the company "posted on a professionally-made sign for one year," as well as from both employees involved, and "cash money for undue damages causing me mental distress by refusing me food."
She claims that the confrontation started happening when she turned down a conversation on the topic after the employee had already started making her coffee, ostensibly accepting her claim of exemption.
When asked about these sorts of incidents over the last 18-plus months of mask mandated in the city, the manager admits that "it happens the odd time, but this time was definitely exceptional."
After the woman refuses to leave, she is seen in the footage wandering around the store, yelling about the situation, coughing audibly and calling the employee names. He finally decided to end the fiasco by simply making her coffee, after which the dramatic affair ends.
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