A customer recently left a San Diego donut shop a negative, 1-star review on Yelp, complaining about a homeless man camping outside “morning, noon, and night.”
It’s a shame that the mere presence of a fellow citizen in a different tax bracket spoils this Yelper’s fancy turmeric donut for them, but what’s worth noting is the shop owner’s response.
The owner of Nomad Donuts, Brad Keiller, responded in a notably thoughtful fashion.
Instead of reacting defensively Keiller responded calmly, acknowledging the complainant’s experience and then explaining the reality of the situation.
Keiller explained that the man who can regularly be found outside Nomad Donuts is named Ray and that he’s actually helped the shop by keeping away other more disruptive homeless individuals suffering from various addictions who used to come to the shop and cause problems.
He also explained Ray’s personal situation–he’s a former computer programmer facing some personal challenges–and revealed that they have a good relationship.
He called Ray “a part of our community” and explained in practical terms the way the building shelters him.
Keiller concluded his response by essentially summing up the street-level effects of capitalism, in which people who no longer have a designated place in society as workers or property owners are forced to survive in the shadows and between the cracks where some of their fellow citizens will acknowledge their humanity and others won’t. Keiller is clearly in the former group and states that he won’t kick Ray to the curb regardless of whether it costs him business.
He also encouraged the person who complained to actually meet Ray, saying “If you stop and talk with him maybe you’ll come to like him too.”