Are you a lemming?

I got an email from a family member arguing that we should ban Starbucks because someone heard that someone else heard that Starbucks’ said they didn’t support our troops. So rather than being a lemming — sending it on blindly, I did 5 minutes of research and found out the truth… Here was the reply I sent back to the person that sent the original email to me.

Snopes.com (the website that debunks Urban-Legends) contacted the e-mail’s writer and asked him about the events that led to his penning the note about Starbucks’ response to Marines who had come to them looking for a donation of coffee.

Sgt. Wright (who is stationed Stateside at the moment but who will be deployed overseas in the next few months), heard the story from a friend, who had gotten it from someone else (blatant hearsay). He talked things over with the Marine who had supposedly contacted Starbucks, and that, coupled with that night’s televised news about the goings on in Iraq, made his blood boil. He pounded out his thoughts into the form of an e-mail, which he mailed to ten of his friends.

It is that e-mail which continues to circulate to this day.

Sgt. Wright has since learned that what he heard was in error, and he has subsequently tried to set things right by issuing the following retraction:

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thou that needs to be cleared up. I heard from word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn’t support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn’t do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports the men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many of their Company’s policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick wrong letter I sent out to you. Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright, Sgt USMC

Sgt. Wright has been unable to produce the reply his buddy supposedly received from Starbucks, and the folks at Starbucks deny engaging in any correspondence on such matter prior to this rumor coming along. Given that no copy of the letter appears to exist, neither one resting in the hands of the Sergeant’s comrade, nor one residing in Starbucks’ files, the rumor about the java vendor’s harsh response to a coffee-hunting Marine should be dismissed.

Here’s what Starbucks has to say about the matter:

Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy. While Starbucks as a company cannot directly donate to military personnel, many of our partners (employees) show their support by donating coffee.

Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of our partners have elected to send their weekly mark-out of coffee to members of the military or military families, and related organizations. Our partners have collected and shipped numerous pounds of Starbucks coffee overseas.

As an example of this generosity, our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group.

So, when you heard a rumor (in an email), did it make your blood-boil (just like it did with Sgt. Wright)? Did you just blindly forward that email on to everyone in your address book, or did you take five minutes to verify before you spread gossip and rumors?

When you wake in the morning ask yourself one question: Am I going to be a mindless lemming? Knowledge is power; Ignorance is bliss.

If you don’t verify and send this back to every person that you sent the original email to then you ARE spreading gossip and rumors. You are a lemming. Prove me wrong.

www.JoeLevi.com

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