Military and Police

Starbucks’ Nattering Nabobs of Leftist Conformity Create Needless Needle Controversy

Considering my previous occupation, it’s no surprise I’ve enjoyed a cup or two of joe from the java giant, Starbucks Coffee Company. Both on and off the job. It’s not my favorite Seattle coffee company, but since there are nearly as many Starbucks in Seattle as heroin dealers, they’re quite convenient.

One Starbucks experience I had provides a brief opening anecdote. My partner and I frequented the store in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle. This location was unique because it was the closest store to Starbucks owner Howard Schultz’ house. One day, we were waiting for our drinks and noticed Mr. Schultz was also waiting for his (literally) beverage.

The barista placed a to-go cup on the counter and slid it toward Mr. Shultz. He told her it wasn’t his order. He was right; it was my partner’s double-tall latté. I told him, “You better enjoy that. It’s gonna be the best coffee you’ve ever had!”

Sometimes, anti-corporatists criticize me for patronizing the socially hypersensitive conglomerate. But, since the company was born here, there’s a good arguement Starbucks is a local business.

Loyalty aside, after too many avoidable, left-leaning Starbucks political controversies, this latest, needless needle dust-up has me in a bit of a twist. After all, I dealt my entire career with junkies and the hazards their needles create for cops. More than one cop I know has been “needle-stuck” over the years. So, instead of rescinding Starbucks’ stupid “open-store” policy and allowing cops to enforce the law, the company has doubled-down on stupid.

For many years, Starbucks has had trouble with addicts in some of their stores, particularly in restrooms. I have a couple of friends and family members who have managed Starbucks stores. One worked for years at downtown locations. She was always telling me about how fed up she was with smelly and rude transients and addicts loitering, making customers uncomfortable, taking up chairs, commandeering the restrooms, and challenging employees’ authority.

Starbucks’ insane policy has emboldened this infiltration of filthy disrespect for civil society. This most recent strategy stems from the company’s surrendering to the two, now infamous, social vampires and their leftist allies over a manufactured supposedly racist incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

The corporation closed all stores for a day to conduct what turned out to be a national anti-police, social justice employee “training” session. Then they instituted a policy, again, prompted by two people behaving badly. This policy allows anyone to sit in a Starbucks store without having made a purchase while paying patrons wait for a place to sit.

Doesn’t this expose the business and its employees and customers to more abuse? It also encourages drug use by providing a cozy place for addicts to revel in their faux bliss. But, hell, who am I to stand in the way of a gradual corporate suicide. As a private business, I support their right to do as they wish. This is despite their disparaging my profession and inhibiting my rights—as company policy, such as Starbucks’ anti-cop and anti-gun rights biases.

Because of the proliferation of drug-users loitering at some Starbucks, discarding their needles in restrooms and outside in the parking lots and shrubs, the corporation is placing sharps containers in some stores. Sharps containers are designed to render syringes with hypodermic needles safe for disposal. However, the container does nothing to make depositing the needles into it safer for a customer or employee. It’s still just a receptacle. The company’s hometown, Seattle, no surprise, is one of the “select” cities to offer this amenity.

To show the extent of the problem and its spreading to the suburbs from Seattle, let’s cross Puget Sound a few miles from Seattle to Kitsap County. Kitsapsun.com reports, “The [needle] exchange distributed 2.46 million sterile syringes in 2018.” And Kitsap County’s population is not nearly that of Seattle and King County.

Now, I’m sure the company’s bigwig do-gooders believe the junkies will use these containers instead of tossing their syringes on the floor or into the waste bins. But, is this overture a safety effort or is Starbucks merely an enabler? Does Starbucks think the addicts will use these containers? These people are getting high, remember. Forget about tossing a syringe into the trash, sometimes users get so high they forget to breathe.

I’ve seen it many times, and so has my firefighter wife. We both have stories about when you hit an overdosed addict with the Narcan, they come to and are pissed you’ve wrecked their high. Thanks for saving my life is not even a remote thought.

It’s not likely addicts will routinely use these disposal boxes. They don’t use the trash containers now. Why would they use an even less convenient disposal method? The containers will probably be used mostly by Starbucks employees who, despite “training,” will be risking their health and safety.

This is more evidence of leftist insanity when you think about any business’s employees, except for public safety and hazmat clean-up personnel, being required to add heroin syringe collection and disposal as a part of his or her work checklist.

The other risk will be to customers who might not have chanced picking up the needles to throw them in the trash, where employees or trash collectors could get stuck, but may feel it’s now “safer” to risk picking it up because there is a container marked for the specific purpose. Doesn’t this also open Starbucks to great financial risk? I’m waiting for the first person, employee or customer, to sue Starbucks for a needle stick. Maybe some little kid.

Remarkably, some folks think this is a “brilliant business decision.” Prudent, maybe; necessary, arguably for employee safety, but brilliant business is stretching it. According to Business Insider, Starbucks employees petitioned the company to install these containers. (Since store policies now encourage drug use in their stores, do they have a choice?) If people remain employed by Starbucks and are willing to deal with this hazard, in just this context, the idea may be sound for employee safety. But the fact employees of an American business even have to make this choice and had to forward a petition is not sound.

One employee Business Insider mentions in their story works at a store only a couple of miles from where I live. What’s interesting about this store is it’s in a suburb located some 16 miles north of downtown Seattle. Like Kitsap County, this Seattle infection is an entirely different kind of urban sprawl. One of the employees who’s worked for Starbucks for three years and who signed the petition said, “My coworkers and I had all experienced needles left behind in the bathroom, store, and even in our drive-thru.”

Starbucks says employees who express fear of handling discarded needles can opt-out of performing the task. That’s fine, but in real life, what will that do to working relationships when some employees allow their co-workers to assume all the risk? Answer: Picking up druggies’ discarded syringes shouldn’t even be a choice employees have to make.

Not only does Business Insider feel the company’s move is “brilliant” but also, they conscript a medical argument. “While the opioid epidemic has certainly contributed to the rise of improperly disposed-of needles, some of the people celebrating the change are those who inject drugs for medical reasons.” Stretching things again, I’d say. I’ve never heard about a crisis involving diabetics carelessly disposing of their syringes—ever.

So, now, diabetics are partially responsible for this bathroom blight, eh? Does this mean it would be a “brilliant” idea to install sharps containers in every single American business? While these disposal containers would make it more convenient for diabetics, there are a lot of items that could make things more convenient for lots of folks. The fact diabetics don’t irresponsibly discard their syringes highlights that illegal drug users do.

I have long had sympathy for people suffering from diabetes. My best friend in high school was a diabetic. He died several years prematurely as a result of the disease. His father had also died young. Had Starbucks taken this action explicitly for diabetics, that would have been great. But that’s not what happened. Adding diabetics’ needle disposal to the conversation just seems an attempt at obfuscation. A deflection from the core social-justice reason the company took such socially detrimental actions. Nice sleight of hand, Business Insider.

Is it wise for any business that sells products to the general public to try to level a three-legged social stool? One proposed remedy only seems to worsen a problem, or it leads to more problems. How about businesses just assist their customers, maintain policies that serve and protect their employees and customers, and call the police when people break the law? I know what you’re thinking: Now, who’s the radical?

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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