McDonald’s – The New Homeless Shelter?
I go to a number of McDonald’s restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida when the dine in part opens at 6:00 a.m. Armed with my laptop and a senior coffee black (always under $1), I get more work done in 3 hours than I normally can at home all day.
I like McDonald’s coffee better thanStarbucks , Dunkin Donuts, or the bookstores which are not open yet. The first 2 are within walking distance of where I live, along with a McDonald’s. Yet I usually drive to one 10 miles away on Beach and San Pablo, not far from the Mayo Clinic.
Some stores are more comfortable than others. It works well until the sun rises, then you have to make sure you’re seated in a shaded table.
The regular morning crowd is about 10 people or so. Some have old cars loaded with belongings. Others come by bicycle. From what I hear, some have makeshift campsites, one of which was burned to the ground this morning by a disgruntled land owner.
Most of the patrons are older men. Retired or former military. A couple of women make the scene. Everyone is clean and showered. No downtown homeless smells. I don’t know if there is a shelter that helps out or if they have Planet Fitness memberships.
One man has a service dog, but he is not blind. Could be a different VA benefit. The dog is a sweetheart. I can’t tell if she is part blonde Lab or a pit bull mix.
While they are not emaciated, none are obese either.
People seem to buy coffee only. I have never seen anyone eat. Maybe a shelter helps out in that respect later in the morning. Almost everyone leaves by 8:30 or 9:00.
The manager is a 30ish guy who is friendly and respectful toward everyone. The morning crowd treats him the same way. Regular diners mix it up with no problems.
At times I have to go to downtown Jax for personal business. McDonald’s down there are a different animal. Some limit the time you can sit in the restaurant. Downtown homeless people will chase away diners and make the drive through the primary form of service.
I am reminded of old Korean men who were buying coffee at McDonald’s in Manhattan and tying up the tables all day. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea in the 70s, and that is how a country tea room operated. Houses did not have living rooms, and you met your friends at a tabang and stayed as long as you wanted.
That didn’t work in NYC. They needed the seats at lunch time for regular diners.
Depending on the location, McDonald’s now seems like a makeshift homeless shelter for early morning hours. How long before someone breaks it up?