Today, I went to a coffee shop I semi-frequently visit for matcha green tea lattes, and on the way in, saw a bearded man sitting alone at an outdoors dining table. He was shabbily dressed, unkempt, and had a wire cart near him full of bedding and miscellany, from what I could tell. He wasn’t pan-handling or anything, just sitting there with no food or drink in front of him, unlike the other patrons who were at the outdoor seating of the food court area where the coffee shop is located.

He appeared to be talking to himself when Mr. W and I passed him going into the coffee shop. When we came back out, he was no longer talking, but seemed to be wearing almost a serene smile as he sat and looked into the distance.

I mentioned to Mr. W that I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee, but wasn’t sure if the guy wanted or drank coffee, of what kind of coffee he’d like. Mr. W frowned and said if I did that, I’d have myself a stalker, since I go there somewhat regularly. I said I could just have a coffee shop employee bring it out to him and say it was an anonymous purchase on his behalf. And then I thought aloud that maybe I ought to buy him a meal instead from one of the restaurants. Mr. W said I would be encouraging unwanted behavior from the guy and that the restaurants and coffee shop would not want freebies for people loitering there. He said for business reasons, the coffee shop wouldn’t want vagabonds to hang out there. I said I didn’t think that was the case with the coffee house, as they had done a Suspended Coffees program a few months ago that I’d participated in. Despite Mr. W’s disapproval, I got up and went in to run this by the coffee shop employees, and if they objected to my suggestion, I’d respect their wishes and not do it.

I spoke to a semi-new barista who looked to a regular male barista (are males called baristas, too? barrister?) who appeared to have the authority of a manager. The male shook his head at me and said, “That guy’s got plenty of money.”
“What? Really?”
“Yes. I’ve seen his wallet. He’s got plenty of money.” Somewhat cold tone, I felt.
“Okay, that’s good to know. So he gets money from working the freeway corners or something?”
He shook his head and with steely eyes, said, “He used to work for Carnival Sales. I talk to him all the time. He’s fine.”
Oh. Okay. Glad I checked. As I left, the female called after me, “Thank you.”

Not sure how to feel about this. Was I almost swindled (not that the man outside had asked for anything) and had gotten saved by the coffee shop clerk? Was the coffee shop clerk just telling me stuff to prevent me from encouraging “bad for business” practices? Was he speaking the truth, but just simply unsympathetic to people now down on their luck no matter what job they used to have? Am I a gullible sap?