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.