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Peet's Coffee

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"This homeless guy asked me for money the other day. I was about to give it to him and then I thought he was going to use it on drugs or alcohol. And then I thought, that's what I'm going to use it on. Why am I judging this poor bastard?"

-Greg Giraldo

I have been highly critical of corporations for the past few years and rightfully so.  But now I have to write a positive column in favor of one of those corporations.  Actually, it's more about the people who work there than the actual corporation itself. 

When someone does something right it should be highlighted.  Integrity comes from providing the other side of things, even if it counters your overall stance, with an opportunity to clarify a previous stance, one that could have been misunderstood at that particular time.  If a person can't be honest with themselves they cannot be honest with anyone else.  Therefore, I must write about the Peet's Coffee store in downtown Berkeley. 

No, not the one in the bowels of the B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station.  And not the Peet's on Telegraph Avenue, either.  I've heard bad things about them.  People's Park sits just around the corner of that store, though, so they have to deal with a lot, but so does the Peet's store in downtown Berkeley.  This is Wing-Nut Central.  The epicenter, if you will.  Down here is where my friend Bruce coined us the "Wing-Nut Taliban," after noticing how the city treats us when nobody (of consequence) is looking or listening.

In the past I wrote of a situation at the downtown Peet's where the manager targeted me and two friends, citing we were "too loud," after my friend belly laughed for... three seconds.  I felt it was because we were "homeless" and were targeted because of this fact.  I've heard others get loud in that place, and for longer durations, and because they weren't poor or homeless, they weren't dealt with like we were that one morning, I believed at that time.  Money seems to have certain advantages, allegedly.  That was then and this is now, and I have noticed one thing about this downtown coffee shop since that time, and that is either I made a mistake, or that was an isolated incident.  The manager could have just had a bad morning or something.  It happens to us all.  

Especially when you consider just how much that store gets nailed by the mentally handicapped.

Since that time I have noticed the bathrooms getting "blown up," as we call it out here.  That is where a Wing Nut gets in there and burrows themselves in like a tick, probably stripping down until nude and then lathering Canola sunflower oil all over themselves, but not before shoving fifty pounds of paper into the toilet and then flushing, and when the employees receive a complaint and see the bloody aftermath of the fervent self-flagellating, they don't blame the entire homeless population, like did Starbucks and others. 

So what I can tell with this is, it's up to the management team, the philosophy employed.

All other places have adjusted their service to exclude the poor and homeless.  Tully's Coffee eventually shut down, but not before shutting the bathrooms down altogether, first claiming "remodeling," then admitting they were "closed indefinitely."  What I heard, though, was a certain land developer and owner told the building manager of the Chase Bank building and business space adjacent that to levy pressure on the management team of Tully's to "shut the bathrooms down as to 'frustrate' the homeless and mentally handicapped into leaving the entire area of Constitution Plaza." 

That is what my sources relayed to me at that time and it made sense at the time, too... still does.

I have seen where the employees of Peet's have had to put up white strips of tape, diagonally, so people would not attempt access into their bathroom, because someone had blown it up, most likely someone with mental disabilities, an issue regarded as futile, yet somehow we find the time to complain about it.  And the next day, it's back to normal.  Nobody is questioned.  There isn't some sort of Federal Inquiry employed.  They aren't shutting down those bathrooms for "remodeling." 

The management team at Peet's practices a wonderful philosophy.  They don't swipe everyone with the same broad stroke.  And the incident I had with my two friends was the exception that proved the rule.  Again, the management team at Peet's has to deal with quite a bit.  As do all those other businesses.  But in life, it is how we deal with these challenges that matter; that is where you find integrity.

So, to the management team at Peet's, in the downtown Berkeley "commercial district," I commend you for your patience with the mentally disabled and homeless.  It's nice to see someone show compassion our way, instead of guff, resistance and hatred.  Especially since there seems much pressure applied by the Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA) on some of these businesses to side with them and their intolerance, having them act in certain dishonorable and exclusionary ways.

And Peet's coffee is the best coffee, too.  Starbucks coffee is nothing but overpriced, over-hyped, crappy hot water, allegedly.  Someone tried telling me Starbucks was "better because refills are only fifty cents at Starbucks and they're a dollar at Peet's."  That's when I informed this poor, lost soul that "if you need a refill, you're in the wrong store, drinking the wrong coffee." 

So, right now, while Starbucks "remodels," putting in all sorts of state-of-the-art spying equipment and other things not needed (Walk past that place right now and you can see and hear (German?) accents that don't fit and workers that do not fit, either... it's almost like the movie 'Die Hard 3: With A Vengeance' of there right now!), remember... Peet's Coffee is j ust across the street, and they have a better management team, a nicer staff, better coffee, and they're a local Berkeley business... a true original, which rubs off on their staff, allegedly.

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James Armstrong II Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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