Starbucks locks up--really

There have been vague rumors and news snippets that Starbucks has started to lock up its bathrooms.   It's true!

Out and about in NYC in the last two weeks, I have taken advantage of Strbcks ubuquity to have my favorite, a Grande Capuccino caffinated and whole milk with lots of foam. While not personally in search of a bathroom, the five Starbucks I have been in had people, perhaps tourists, shocked to find the bathrooms "unavailable." I chalked that up to too many tourists.

Today, in my non-touristy neighborhood, in my own Starbucks,  the bathroom had a large combination lock on the door. Shocking! When a woman asked the barista for the combination, she was reluctant to give it, I asked why. According to the barista there had been a change in policy meant to close the bathrooms to non-customers. And customers too? I asked. She gave the woman the number--written on a piece of paper (with invisible ink?). 

I have always thought that Starbucks went above and beyond with its open bathroom policy. Truly altruistic. Truly philanthropic. So Now?  Once again, the decline of civilization.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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