Dunkin’ vs. Sgt. Parizek and man’s inhumanity to The Man

Photo by Elena Koycheva via Unsplash

I like Sgt. Paul Parizek, the Des Moines police spokesman. He is my friend and I love him. That’s not the kind of thing journalists are supposed to say about police officers.

But I am an independent (read: unemployed) newsman.

That means I can say anything I want and not be required to have a meeting where I’m scolded by a corporate ninny about not upholding the standards of journalism they actively work to destroy on an hourly basis.

So, I admit my pro-Paul bias when I read stories in the local news that he was refused service at an east Des Moines Dunkin’ franchise because he was a police officer.

The corporation quickly fired the two employees involved, but the low-level antics of the junior social justice warriors serves as a sad commentary on interpersonal communication in our age.

Let’s pause, first, to mock Dunkin’ for dropping the word “donuts” from their name. What are we dunking? Scones? Crumpets? Tarts?

No. We are dunking donuts. Donuts are unhealthy. If Dunkin’ drops them from their name, maybe people will be fooled into thinking this is a Whole Foods.  

This is almost as stupid as when Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC. They wanted to disassociate themselves from the word “fried” because fried foods are unhealthy.

If we remove “fried” from the name, people will think KFC stands for “Kale For Children.”

It’s a pointless effort in rebranding that fools no one and changes nothing except the signs and stationery.

Pointless gestures bring us to the Southeast 14th Street Dunkin’ refusing to serve Paul because he’s a cop.

This was a decision made by teenagers who worked at the store. Teenagers have a poor track record on good decision making. This is why we try to keep them away from booze.

But, apparently, there was not one adult on duty at Dunkin’ that day who could explain the basic idea of how service industry jobs work: A customer comes in and orders food. You take their money, give them the food and wish them a nice day.

This is true if the customer is a construction worker, an artist or a ninja.

Now, as an individual, a person who works for a corporation that sells food to people might not like serving ninjas. Ninjas are experts in the dark arts and silent assassinations. These kinds of actions can be offensive to people who read Harry Potter or prefer noisy assassinations.

However, work isn’t the place where you get to carry out your personal prejudices against ninjas. If the ninja puts down $5 for coffee and a double chocolate, you take his money, give him his food and wish him a nice day.

I also would advise against posting on social media something like, “I just served Snake Eyes, that ninja from G.I. Joe, and he was a total douche.”

You can tell that to your other teenage friends over the Busch Light you asked someone to buy for you at the Kum & Go, but that’s about it if you want to keep your job.

Now I don’t know why these young people were uncomfortable around Paul. My guess is they heard Paul was a dirty, lying cop through a friend who once rode in a car with a guy who drove by one of the Black Lives Matters protests.

I’ve seen friends who are active in BLM posted negative things about Paul. I have told those people that Paul is my friend and my experience with him is different.

Few could explain their disdain for Paul other than to say they didn’t like the statements he made about some of the violence and lawlessness that occurred in the vicinity of BLM protests or after the events.

Now, again, I am decidedly pro-Paul, but I think this is a case where people are only going to accept what they want to believe is true regardless of the facts.

Confirmation bias is a powerful thought pattern and it’s hard for people to break it without vigilant practice.

So, if some people who support BLM have concluded that Paul is a bad guy, that’s understandable.

Well, it’s understandable, but still poor behavior.

I wonder what preponderance of evidence on which these youths made the decision that Paul is a bad guy not deserving of coffee and donuts.

I know some people believe all cops are bad. Cops, so the thinking goes, enforce an unjust system that imprisons and kills minorities to the benefit of straight, white men.

Paul is the most visible cop in Iowa. Therefore, he becomes the target of partisan disdain for police in general.

The problem is this judgement is acted upon without knowing Paul as an individual.

Also, refusing service to anyone for almost any reason is a slippery slope to “whites only” lunch counters.

The argument I make, the one I always make, is Paul is a human. Every human deserves to have their dignity respected.

You cannot fight against unequal treatment and injustice by treating people unequally.

That said, one needn’t delve too deeply into the ethics interpersonal codes of conduct to understand what should have happened when Paul tried to order at Dunkin’.

The youths are welcome to their prejudices. When I run into people I don’t like. I operate on a simple philosophy: Get it over as quickly as possible without conflict.

I don’t know how long it took the master race of infants at Dunkin’ to refuse to serve Paul, but I can almost guarantee it took more time than just to have given him some coffee and a donut and send him on his way.

Everyone — everyone — deserves coffee and donuts if they want them.

Daniel P. Finney, independent journalist

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.


  1. Ronald Hurd says:

    Paul is one of the most genuine and truthful people I know! How would you handle telling Iowans about all the bad incidents police officers are called to establish peace among those in society that have difficulty with conflict resolution! 🇺🇸☺💕


  2. droll53 says:

    Good story. If these kids ever get a second chance in a job serving customers, I hope they learned a valuable lesson about serving with respect to everyone, regardless of their station. It’s an integral part of why they are doing the job.


    1. I think Paul was set up by people who want attention.


  3. Dora Brubaker says:

    Its just too bad that most likely those “kids” that were working at the Dunkin will never read your story and gain from the insight you always have and share with us in your own special way.


    1. Eh. I heard it was all a setup by one of the hyper activist groups who just want to burn everybody to the ground.


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