There are so many contrived outrages in a given week, let alone a year, that it can be hard to recall any individual instance of outrage after it has already passed. But the infamous Starbucks bathroom outrage was so phony, so absurd, and so disconnected from anything resembling logic or reason, that it deserves to be remembered.
In case you need a refresher course: a Starbucks manager at a location in Philadelphia came under heavy fire last spring after refusing restroom privileges to two non-customers. The men, who happened to be black, asked to use the restroom but were informed that only paying customers were granted access to the facilities. This was not a policy she invented on her own. At the time, many Starbucks locations enforced this rule, just as many other restaurants and stores enforce similar rules. . .
Fast forward a few months. Certain Starbucks locations, less than a year after announcing this enlightened new restroom philosophy, now must install special disposal boxes for used heroin needles. They’ll also be removing regular trashcans from some bathrooms after employees expressed concern about getting pricked with needles while changing out the bags. There have been reports of condoms, alcohol bottles, and blood stains on the floors. Indeed, this bathroom free-for-all has made bathrooms ironically less accessible as some Starbucks restaurants have had to close their stalls for extended periods due to, says the New York Post, “prolonged cleaning.”
It may be fairly pointed out that Starbucks probably had many of these problems even before the new policy. Yes, and that’s exactly the point. That’s why the policy existed in the first place. A spacious, private, single-stall bathroom at a Starbucks in an urban area is an attractive place for drug addicts, drunks, vagrants, and other assorted characters. Most businesses are not interested in becoming de facto homeless shelters or halfway homes. Historically, that’s why they reserve their bathrooms and their tables for people who are actually interested in purchasing their products. It’s not a fail-proof plan, but it’s relatively effective. There’s a reason why these needle disposal boxes only became necessary after they changed the policy. (Read more from “Remember When Starbucks Caved and Opened Their Bathrooms to Non-Customers? Here’s How That Worked Out.” HERE)