Monday, November 17, 2008

This is why people hate hobos (and one more reason why I hate my job)

Transients. Vagabonds. Tramps. Vagrants.

These are some of the terms used to describe homeless people, "transients" being the preferred term used at Starbucks. They come into Starbucks and bother customers not because they are begging or doing anything remotely disturbing, but more because their mere presence just makes people nervous. To be completely honest, when I first started working at Starbucks, I was definitely one of these people who got nervous when a homeless person walked in the door or came up to the register. But, the more I met them and talked to them, the more I realized that they are not all smelly, scary drug addicts. Some of the them are, of course, but more times than not, they are actually really nice people who are perfectly willing to pay for their drinks and will take whatever you can give them. These are the ones that I would call "transients."

There are, however, times when the homeless people do not deserve this word. Like when they take a shower in the sink in the bathroom, leaving dirty water all over the floor and in the sink. Or when we are nice enough to give them the pastries we are throwing out at the end of the night and they have the nerve to make a mess with them in the lobby rather than just eating them, and then not clean it up. Or when they come in and beg for free stuff and then complain that all we give them is a small coffee. "Can't I get a Frappuccino?" Or, like today, when they destroy our restroom and I have to clean it up. These are not "transients." They are HOBOs. If that offends you, then read on and you'll know where I'm coming from.

So it's about 9 am and I've been there since 4:45 am, so I'm already tired and I tend to hate people worse in the morning than any other time of day. A customer comes up to me as I'm talking to our delivery guy, and tells me that the men's restroom needs to be cleaned ASAP. I tell him thank you and I'll get right on it. As I'm saying this, of course another man walks in, uses the bathroom, then walks out and tells me that the men's restroom needs to be cleaned ASAP. Once again, I say thank you and I'll get right on it. Then, sure enough, as I'm telling my baristas that I'm going to go clean the restroom, Chris, one of our regulars who saw the two guys before him tell me that the men's restroom needs to be cleaned, walks into the men's room and walks right back out saying, "Geez, that's terrible. You need to clean it right away!" (Chris is definitely a douchebag who is unrealistically demanding and treats our store like he owns it. Always moving furniture to suit him and walking up to the bar before getting in line asking us to start his drink. I hate him, but he's a regular and sometimes interesting to talk to, so I have to put up with him.) I snap back at him, "Well Chris, I can't get in there to clean it if people keep walking in and using it!" He left after that. I'll wait for the formal complaint.

I finally get into the bathroom and am completely grossed out. Someone had gone Number 2, missed the toilet (or had a total disregard for it), then proceeded to step in it and walk around the restroom. There was not only shit all over the toilet and floor, but there were shit-footprints all over the bathroom. I was so mad and disgusted, I had trouble keeping my composure.

After getting a mop and the Starbucks-approved bleach-like restroom cleaner, I begin to clean the restroom and try to keep my breakfast in my stomach, unwilling to clean up my own vomit in addition to the shit I am now cleaning up. The smell is so bad that I don't even attempt to refill the air freshener, I just spray the bleach-like cleaner all over the bathroom, where I am discovering more poo all over. On the faucet. On the trashcan. On the paper towel holder. On the toiler paper cover and on the toilet paper. On the handicap bar. On door. Everywhere.

On one of my many I-have-to-get-some-air-before-I-puke breaks, I notice that there is shit on the floor in front of the retail display. In horror, I look up and see there is a trail of shit-footprints going out through the lobby and out the door. I clean it up really quickly before any customers can notice exactly what it is I'm cleaning up. That's when one of the baristas tells me who it was.

It was a hobo. He had come in and my barista noticed him because he had all his bags. She said the guy who went into the restroom after him was the first one to tell me the bathroom needed to be cleaned. Great. Just when I was getting used to the "transients," one comes in and does this. Fab.

I already have very little faith in mankind after seeing the disrespect people have for my place of business, let alone me or my co-workers, but it's when things like this happen that I just completely lose it. I understand that this man had something horrible happen in his life to make him the way that he is, but I cannot understand or be sympathetic at all to someone who is going to go into any place and do that. It is exactly why I hate working in customer/food service. Even when it's something much smaller than this, like leaving your cups on a table instead of dropping them in the trashcan on the way out or spilling sugar and not cleaning it up, it still gets to me. I don't care how big of a hurry I'm in, I can ALWAYS manage to find a trashcan to drop my trash into and at the very least, sweep my spilled sugar into the trash. I feel that anyone who does this should be forced to do my job for a month and see all the things I see. I am not a maid and I am not a servant. Don't treat me like one.

The rest of my shift wasn't too bad after that, but, really, how does it get worse than cleaning up shit?


Anonymous said...


instead of hobos who like to smear their poo everywhere, insert hormonal pregnant women with a million kids all with diapers full of the smelliest shit from hell that are often left all over our restroom we have in our store just for their convenience so they don't have to use the one in sears. good times.

I feel your pain. xoxo

tyler bugh said...

Dude you got your homeless terminology all screwed up. In the homeless world a hobo is a name of honor. It means you hop trains. Vagabond tramp hobo and transient are all terms for traveling homeless. Really hobo technically means a homeless migrant worker, whereas a tramp is just a homeless wanderer but they are both considered vagabonds and transients. Transients is what the government deems us so we tend not to like it as much, it's uncultured. You seem to be talking about homebums who tend to be homeless because of mental disability and/or severe drug addiction and less so for a sense of adventure that just becomes being part of a proud culture. If course there are good and bad homebums hobos and tramps but I just thought you should learn the proper terms.