There’s a Charlie Brown episode in the Charles Schultz series where everywhere a dog wandered, he was not wanted. Everywhere he went, the sign “No Dogs Allowed” appeared and the off camera narrator said, in a deep, deliberate voice “No dogs allowed.”
In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the homeless find there are not wanted in many establishments, just because they are homeless, as are dogs. The way things are going, signs will be put out in front of buildings and parks “No Homeless or Dogs Allowed.”
First it was the McDonald’s in Fairless Hills, PA, where a manager, whom I refer to as “Twenty Minutes” kicked my homeless friend out. She told the manager that she was waiting for a ride as she nursed her coffee, but that didn’t matter to Ms. Minutes. I couldn’t find my friend when I went to pick her up. The manager was cryptic with me and snippety when I asked about my friend. It was cold and raining, and my friend found the shelter of a nearby office building, where I picked her up.
This was the second time Ms. Minutes booted my friend. The first time Ms. Minutes made my friend leave, my friend called me and I picked her up, as she got in touch with me before the 20 minute warning was up. After this first McDonald’s booting, as I was eating with my friend, this manager did a California stop, turned and quickly glanced at my friend, as if she were a dog, and uttered “remember, 20 minutes”, and walked away. McDonald’s never addressed my complaints; they just sent a form reply. No dogs allowed.
Next it was Subway in Fairless Hills, who threw my friend out. She had to call me for a ride. No dogs allowed.
Burger King was the next “no dogs allowed”. On one occasion, a shift manager at the Burger King in Bristol, PA relayed a message from the general manager that she’s no longer allowed in the restaurant. When I pressed for an answer why, the shift manager admitted that the general manager doesn’t want homeless people at this particular Burger King because they have the potential of panhandling.
Hummm… I guess with that kind of reasoning, because some black people have committed crimes, they should be kept out of restaurants because they may rob somebody. Imagine the outcry if that happened? Well, it’s happening with the homeless. No dogs allowed.
The Burger King near the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA threw my cancer stricken friend out arbitrarily after I dropped her off, with severe weather threatening! She had just finished her lunch, and as she went to get her free coffee refill, the manager swooped down on her and demanded she leave or else he’d call the police. There was no discussion even. To get out of the elements, she walked over to the Boston Market, where the people there were much more hospitable to her, and I picked her up.
When I confronted this Burger King Manager about him arbitrarily throwing my friend out, he said that after someone eats and is alone, there is nobody to talk to so he/she should leave. When I mentioned she had cancer, as if he couldn’t at least tell she was non contagious sickly (and that’s why he booted her out), he made the excuse “I didn’t know she had cancer.” It wasn’t until after I showed him how irrational and wrong he was did he hint at the restaurant being crowded. It wasn’t.
We had visited this Burger King a few times. On one occasion this manager started staring at us after we had spent most of the day there, having had ordered breakfast and lunch. “Are you waiting for a ride?”, he asked. When we said “no”, he mentioned us being there awhile. “Is that a problem?”, my friend replied.
“You’ve been here since this morning”, the manager quipped. “So…”, I replied, and he walked away.
The manager at this Burger King told us, about 10:35 p.m., “you better start packing up, we’re closing in ten minutes.”
I mentioned that the restaurant closes at 11 p.m.
“We have to clean up…”
We packed up and left. No dogs allowed.
Why stop with arbitrarily booting the homeless out of establishments? Why not have a separate water fountain for the homeless? Why not make them sit in the back of the bus?
We need a Rosa Parks for the homeless. Through my blogs, I try to emulate her. The laptop is mightier than the sword! I don’t accept the homeless being told to take a back seat — to be treated as second class citizens.
Not all establishments virtually post “No Dogs Allowed” signs for the homeless. Denny’s, on Business Route 1 in Langhorne, PA, knows some of their patrons are homeless, and treats them like other customers. They allow them to hang out and linger (some establishments call this loitering) after buying a meal. As long as it’s not a crowded weekend, we can stay “all day”, the manager told us.
At the Langhorne Denny’s, instead of being annoying at the sight of an old, weak, homeless woman, people have showed compassion and bought us meals. In most cases, they did it anonymously, and when they didn’t do it anonymously, they did it without fanfare. Last night, for example, someone came to our table and handed us gift cards and said we could use it then or another time, and walked away.
Wendy’s, in Levittown, has been hospitable to the homeless. We hang out there for hours, sometimes just buying a cup of coffee each. One night, after having been there a couple hours, we left about an hour before closing time. One of the workers remarked that we were leaving early that night, as we usually stay until closing time, often up to the wire. On one occasion, a customer, divining our situation, approached a worker whom I think was a manager who was eating. I overheard the manager say “you might embarrass him.” The guy offered me money. I thanked him and declined.
The manager told me that he doesn’t have a problem with us hanging around at the Levittown Wendy’s. He doesn’t understand the problem people have with the homeless, as he related a story. He said when he worked at another fast food restaurant, someone invited a homeless man out of the cold and into the restaurant and bought him a meal. A customer was ready to call the police, exclaiming “there’s a homeless person in the restaurant!”
“We know”, someone told him, and explained someone invited him in and bought him a meal.
There are a few establishments, when a time comes when they are required to post their homeless policy, like the ingredients in their food, will not post “No Dogs Allowed” signs. It’s my dream that “No Dogs Allowed” — I mean “No Homeless Allowed” signs will be posted anywhere.
There are gracious people out there who help the down and out. And there are others, who not only harass the homeless, they get in the way of others trying to help. One example is a cook in Houston, Texas, who cited and fined for feeding the homeless. Fortunately, she’s fighting it
The Levittown branch of the Bucks County Free Library system sees the homeless collectively as a persona non grata. Although most of the librarians there are friendly with the regular homeless — they know each other by name and some of them sent a homeless person who went to the hospital a card — the head librarian, who calls herself “the office manager”, has been harassing the homeless in an effort to drive them out of the library.
Recently, a friend of mind overheard a speaker at a library meeting ask about answering people’s question about dealing with the problem of the homeless “making the library a hangout for the homeless.” Someone responded “Pat (the office manager) is handling it.”
The Levittown Public Library should follow the example of the library in Petaluma, California. Instead of trying to keep the homeless out of the library, as if they were dogs, the Levittown library should work with the homeless as the Petaluma librarian has been doing. “Most of the homeless library users are well-behaved and considerate, even helping clean up the surrounding landscape ”
And when there are problems with people who happen to be homeless, hold them individually accountable, and don’t punish the whole group, as does the Levittown Librarian, whom I refer to as “Bull Connor”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Connor
There had been fighting and drunkenness at the Petaluma library but was curtailed.
The librarian said:
“I can ban an individual from the library if it is determined that person is disturbing others. We have very clear policies that make soliciting, begging, dressing inappropriately — as in bare feet, bare chests, disturbing outfits — and excessive problems with body odor or decorum unacceptable. But you have to use that power with good judgment. A person’s excessive use of cologne or perfume can be as unpleasant as someone who has not showered in a week.”
In other words, apply the same standards to the homeless that you do for anyone else who visits the library.
We shall overcome!