1, 12:00 AM PST
Nation's First "Credit Card Only"
Diner a Hit With Non-Homeless Patrons
SAN FRANCISCO -- The challenge
seemed insurmountable: How could Steven P. Nabley run a low-cost,
family-friendly restaurant that didn't attract a bunch of smelly
homeless people? Not an easy task in this West Coast city, as
it turns out.
"The scent was driving my
customers away," recalled Nabley, proprietor of Steve's
Cheap Eats, an attractive, inexpensive downtown diner. "And
no wonder! Here they are, trying to enjoy some affordable comfort
food, and in walks some cripple, diseased guy stinking up the
place. You can imagine how bad it was."
he tried his best to keep such people out, city officials warned
Nabley that he couldn't "discriminate" against homeless
people -- despite his clearly displayed notices that established
his right to refuse service to anyone.
When the answer finally came
to Nabley, 36, it hit him like a ton of bricks, or the scent
of a street hag's dirt-caked hair: He'd convert his restaurant
into a "credit card only" establishment.
The result? Business at Steve's
Cheap Eats has boomed.
"You have to swipe a valid
credit card through the door handle to even get access,"
Nabley explained. He got the idea from Citibank, which employs
the technology at many of its urban ATM locations.
But even if some crippled Vietnam
vet or runaway teenager/hooker should somehow make it past this
first obstacle, they're often confounded by an inability to spend
their meager coins or paper bills.
"Heh, they're always like,
'Man, get me my cup of soup -- this shit's legal tender and shit,'
and they're just jingling a paper cup full of nasty-ass change,"
Nabley recounted. "And I'm all like, 'Sorry, we can't accept
currency here.' It's pretty sweet to see that look of hopeless
desperation cross their face when they realize they ain't getting
nothing from me."
Patrons appeared uncomfortably
relieved with Nabley's solution.
"Well, on the one hand,
I am a registered Democrat and for equal rights and all that,"
said Laurie Carmichael, an admin assistant on her lunch break.
"But whenever a homeless person walks in, I always feel
guilty and miserable and sad. But Steve's Cheap Eats kinda takes
care of that for me."
Other patrons, however, were
stoked. "Fuck 'em," explained Blaine Staley, a financial
analyst. "They ain't got a job? Ain't got AmEx? They don't
deserve this place."
Homeless folks, however, aren't
going down without a fight: Incidents of mugging have shot up
300 percent since Nabley has instituted the card policy.
"WHERE'S MY DOG!" commented
Obsidian Flynn, a homeless man, when asked to comment on the
story. "WE LOVE TO SEE YOU SMILE, DAGNABBIT!"
Nabley himself wouldn't comment
when asked if he ever served any less-than-savory characters
who happened to possess credit cards. "Hey man, I don't
do the prejudice thing, you know," he declared. "I'm
still from San Francisco."
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