I first saw the stack of suitcases just before Christmas.
It was a Starbucks on my walk to Grand Central, Park Ave South and, oh, 39th, or so. Two large ’70s style suitcases and a smaller valise, stacked outside Starbucks, next to the door.
My first thought was, thanks to the heavy promotion of the MTA’s If You See Something, Say Something campaign, to call the cops. My second–and prevailing–thought was, let’s make that 5:46.
I saw the suitcase mountain again when I worked a lone day last week, and again earlier this week.
I also saw the owner of the cases: a homeless man–40, black, grimy–sitting at a table inside the Starbucks.
I saw the man there on multiple occasions. Maybe he helped open the door for people. Surely he appreciated staying out of the 20 degree cold.
Yesterday, he–and his luggage–were gone.
Say what you want about Starbucks–overpriced coffee, annoyingly P.C. philosophy (enough of the “Fair-Trade” talk, OK?), even more annoying customers. And, lest we forget, that annoying memoir about how Starbucks can change you from a pampered white guy to a pampered white guy who actually works alongside minorities.
But I’d counter with this: This particular Starbucks let a homeless guy–and, frankly, a dirty one–hang out in the store and keep his luggage parked out front–for at least a few weeks. They let him occupy a table in a Starbucks where tables are as scarce as rent-stabilized apartments on East 5th Street.
Maybe they eventually kicked him out, or he left on his own. I don’t know. But how many businesses would’ve let the guy stay for a few weeks?