A shocking photo of former Gov. Gary Locke has shot around the Internet and gained tens of thousands of shares after a blogger uploaded it only three days ago. So what does this shocking photo depict? A surreptitious iPhone snapshot of Locke--get this--buying his own coffee at Starbucks!
Yes, the kind of latte purchase that to you or I might seem like just a normal Friday morning is newsworthy to the Chinese, who aren't used to their bureaucrats being held to the same standards as other human beings, and who will soon be welcoming Locke as their newest ambassador from the U.S.
The photo has been forwarded and shared more than 32,000 times on Chinese micro-blogging and social media site Sina Weibo. It's also gained international attention, including a positive article in London's The Daily Mail, which used all-caps to make sure its readers know Locke bought the coffee "WITH HIS OWN MONEY!"
The non-story story began when tech entrepreneur Tang Chaohui stumbled across Locke at the Seattle airport with his wife and three kids. Chaohui described the encounter on his site: "What's funny is that Ambassador Locke took out what looked like a voucher to the cashier, who upon examining the voucher informed the ambassador that the voucher could not be accepted. He didn't give the ambassador any face at all, but the ambassador wasn't angry and proceeded to pay with his credit card."
Some of the nearly 8,000 commenters on the site joked that the U.S. is so poor, it's officials are reduced to buying coffee with coupons. Others gave Locke kudos.
"We are so used to Chinese officials' privileges," wrote one, "that we're now not used to Gary Locke's normal behavior."