Starbucks the sanctuary

Starbucks is home to many people. Employees and faithful customers often spend more time at Starbucks than at their actual residences.

Unlike the homeless population, Starbucks employees and regulars are fortunate enough to have a house or apartment to retreat to at the end of each day.

Most D.C. restaurants and coffee shops only permit customers to use their restrooms. Considering the widespread poverty in the D.C. area, I understand the logic behind the bathroom rule.

Public restroom policies aren’t always enforced, however.

This morning, I took the metro over to a Starbucks in Arlington. After downing my tall iced vanilla latte, I walked over to the co-ed bathroom and noticed that the door was locked.

Moments later, an older lady approached me with the restroom key in hand.

“I found the key on the handle, and when I peaked inside, I saw a woman washing herself in the sink. She’d been in the restroom for twenty minutes already.”

It’s unfortunate that some people have to resort to Starbucks lavatories to take pseudo showers. Even so, no corporation will tolerate this, and for good reason.

Another five minutes went by. The woman I’d just been talking to got frustrated and complained to the manager, who stared into space for a minute before taking action and pounding on the bathroom door. He got no response, and we all continued to hear running sink water.

Later that afternoon, I made yet a second trip to a different Starbucks (it’s an addiction, and I hate spending time at home during the day).

As I read through The Express and Julie and Julia, a familiar homeless young man came up and asked me for 75 cents so he could “take the train.”

I obliged and mentioned that I’d seen him walking around northern Virginia. I’d given him a dollar a week earlier at another Starbucks venue.

“We’ve met before,” I said. “You hang around the Ballston Starbucks sometimes.”

“That’s right,” he replied. “Thanks again. Now I can go catch a bus.”

This particular situation definitely makes you wonder about the sincerity and truthfulness of certain homeless folk. I really hate to see people scrounging around for money, so I’ll help a stranger out from time to time. Even so, I don’t necessarily want to assist nor enable any liars.

The next time an apparently homeless person asks me for money, I’ll offer to buy him/her a sandwich instead.

Because I have endless curiosity about all people and their back stories, I’ve been thinking about interviewing and profiling a few homeless individuals for this blog. It may or may not be a wise idea, but I can imagine that my blog would become vastly more interesting. For my own safety, I’d have to keep a distance and withhold too much personal information, so it could be potentially difficult. I like the idea, though. After all, everyone has a story.

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6 thoughts on “Starbucks the sanctuary

  1. I am ashamed to say that homeless people scare me. Then again, I do live in Las Vegas, where the homeless population is as diverse and…*ahem* unique as the regular population.

    I’d be super interested in reading though, if you decided to interview some homeless people… you have more bravery than I do.

  2. Good luck on the potential interview blog.

    I have also always had a soft spot for the homeless; especially any that claim to be vets. I guess this is understandable, as I served as well.

    Moreover, I have experienced some period of difficulty myself and am more than sympathetic to the plight these individuals suffer. Unfortunately, I fail to give monetarily to the poor when requested mostly because I really don’t have it to give. That being said, I hope to amend for this by being highly philanthropic upon making it big.

    In related news, this blog reminds me of my own Starbucks staple, the Americano, which I have sacrificed recently to my frugality. I need to get a job. lol.

  3. Interesting post! I think the homeless population is impossible to generalize…and that if you decide to go ahead with the interviews, you will come away with some unique and fascinating stories! Great idea!

  4. Hi Betty,

    Yes, it’s never wise to generalize on any subject. I am certainly going to consider interviewing the homeless. I think I’d come up with some fascinating life stories! Thanks again for reading my blog and 20SB profile!

  5. Steve,

    You don’t have to donate money to help them out in some way. I can’t give away a dollar or two anymore either, mostly because I’d eventually be spending hundreds of dollars. If you complied with everyone who begs for cash, you’d lose a lot.

    Good luck getting a job! I’m sure you’ll be relieved once you find something. I know I will be.

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