“You can’t stay here”, W says. “Sit up, and, please, you’ll need to leave.” The man with the red face and tangled hair continues to relax on the floor, his bottle of rum by his side and the Sainsbury’s bag as his pillow.
W walks back to his office, shaking his head. The guy has been here an hour, and by declaring he plans to stay the night he’s caused more trouble for himself then he might have wanted.
“Excuse me”, someone says, doubling back to the barriers. I know what they are going to say. I pre-empt them. “Yep, we’ve seen him. Don’t worry he’s drunk, not collapsed.”
“The humanitarian in me says we should get him a coffee, see if he’ll sober up and then he might go”, M says when she books on.
“Pfff,” W says. “I think that’s naive. He won’t even touch it, I bet. Trust me, these people know how to play the game. If he was outside then Outreach might find him. In here, ok, he’s warm but he’s going to have to leave at some point and now the customers think we are ignoring him.”
I go inside to make my own cup of tea. I come back out and see W and V standing by him and a wet floor sign. W gestures to me “You see what he did?” W points at the wet patch surrounding our late night guest. “M offered him some water, and he took it out his trousers and pissed everywhere.” Police will get him now.
“You’re an idiot”, W says to the man, who’s still pretending or half-pretending he’s asleep, head resting on the Sainsbury bag, rum behind him, shoes off now, and his own piss splashed around him.
The cops turn up about 20 minutes later, their purple gloves on as they try and get the guy up. They want to know if anyone saw his penis. I guess that way they have something to charge him with, rather than just telling him to leave.
He’s pretty relaxed as he’s cuffed. He wants somewhere to stay. “He’s got a cell now, probably better than the gateline”, V smirks. “At least he’s gone before we close”, W says.
“Sad, though, isn’t it. That someone has got into that state,” says M. “I wouldn’t want my family ending up like that.”
• "Jay Dawkey" is a London Underground worker and RMT union activist