A video of a man verbally harassing people at a Metro Vancouver Tim Hortons has sparked outrage on social media.
On Sunday, Feb. 5, at around 9:20 a.m., Surrey RCMP was informed that a man verbally harassed people at the Tim Hortons drive-thru located in the 15200-block of 56 Avenue going so far as to get out of his truck (before getting back in).
In the video, a man shouts a slew of insults toward the staff, which includes telling them to "hurry up" and "give me my [expletive] coffee."
He also gets outside of his truck at one point and then gets back inside and drives onto a curb.
Jennifer Volkmann and her father were driving into Vancouver when they stopped at the drive-thru to get coffee. She was in line behind the man when he began aggressively harassing the staff.
"[The staff] were being polite," she said, noting that there were a "good two minutes" before she started filming the encounter.
"It was scary. I feel so bad for the folks who were working. We were just sitting behind them; I can't imagine having to deal with that head-on."
Surrey RCMP spokesperson Const. Vanessa Munn told V.I.A. that the responding officer followed up with the caller and identified the driver in question. Police will also conduct follow-ups with other parties involved as part of an ongoing investigation.
Officers conducted patrols of the area but could not locate the vehicle, added Munn.
"Certainly, the behaviour displayed in the video by the driver towards a staff member at Tim Hortons is unacceptable," she said.
"If someone is feeling unsafe or feels that a situation is escalating we encourage them to err on the side of caution and call police."
Volkmann says she used to work in customer service and situations like this aren't as "uncommon as you think." She hopes sharing the video will spark a larger conversion about how people are treated in the service industry.
How to protect staff from bad, belligerent behaviour
When it comes to making sure your staff is protected against unruly customers, WorkSafeBC has some suggestions.
Barry Nakahara works as a senior manager of prevention field services and spoke to Glacier Media about how employers should have protocols in place.
“The behaviours in this video…they’re not pleasant and for a worker, on the other end, it’s going to be a stressful situation,” he says.
Employees, he added, shouldn’t expect to be subjected to that on a day-in, day-out basis.
“Hopefully, that isn’t the case and that the general public is much more courteous to people who are trying to do their jobs.”
After watching the footage, Nakahara believes the actions were done to make the Tim Hortons worker feel awful.
“It clearly looks like bullying and harassment," he says.
Employers should be able to recognize what bullying and harassment looks like, said the WorkSafeBC spokesperson. They should also have procedures, protocols and instructions for workers on how to deal with it, to minimize the impact, he said.
A friendly note on the door to be respectful before entering the business is one option. In the Surrey case, shutting the drive-thru window could have been another option, he says.
“Or could they be instructed with some standard language? I know it’s probably tough to roll off the tongue in a heated situation like that, but just that says, 'We don’t tolerate this, and sorry, I can’t serve you if you’re going to be like this.' There are ways to deal with it."
Another appropriate step is sometimes not engaging and handing the product over.
“I’ve seen in many workplaces where shoplifting and theft is a problem. They don’t try to fight people for product or merchandise, they try to politely intercept and make the person aware that they’re being watched,” Nakahara explains.
Employers need to think about the risk to their staff and reduce it as much as possible, he adds.
“As we build awareness around this stuff, I think it holds the public more accountable.”
Nakahara hopes that by the person being documented publicly, it will create a conversation in other workplaces and prevent this type of behaviour in the future.
V.I.A. contacted Tim Hortons and the original poster of the video for additional comment.
@apoxonindustries Dude, I don't care how badly you want your coffee, you don't get to verbally assault service workers. #unacceptablebehavior #Vancouver #RoadRage ♬ original sound - Apoxon Industries