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Homeless Woman’s Story Goes Viral After McDonald’s Refuses to Serve Her Water

Homeless Woman’s Story Goes Viral After McDonald’s Refuses to Serve Her Water
Sorbis /

When Polly stood in line at her local McDonald’s in the early hours one Sunday morning, she couldn’t afford a sandwich or even a cup of coffee. Having been homeless for years all Polly wanted was a glass of hot water to give her some respite from the cold.

When Polly was refused the glass of water and asked to leave the store, another customer stepped in as he felt “heartbroken” for poor Polly. He also thought it was “disgusting” that McDonald’s had refused Polly her “basic human right.”

Late Nights

Homeless McDonald's StorySorbis /

We’ve all been there. After a night of drinking and partying one often inevitably ends up at a late-night McDonald’s outlet wanting something to eat or just a hot cup of coffee. Homeless people also often find themselves at McDonald’s, if only to escape the cold of the streets and to get a glass of water.

Water Please

Homeless McDonald's StorySorbis /

Polly, who was living rough for many years, entered the McDonald’s branch in Cardiff, U.K., to escape the cold and get a hot glass of water. But when she approached the counter she was refused. Jonathon Pengelly, who was standing behind her in line at the time, decided to take action to help Polly when McDonald’s staff wouldn’t.

Saturday Night

Homeless McDonald's Story8th.creator /

Pengelly, who had been out drinking with a group of his friends that Saturday night felt bad for Polly. He felt so bad that he decided on the spot to ask her if he could buy her something to eat as she looked hungry and weak. When he asked her what she wanted, Polly asked for a cheeseburger, which he then promptlybought for her. But Polly had a friend sitting outside who was also hungry and cold.

Loving Kindness

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

Pengelly was so taken by the situation that he encouraged his friends to make a large order from the McDonald’s to give to Polly and her homeless friend. Pengelly and his friends took as much food and drink as they could carry out to the street for Polly and her friend. He then took to Facebook to talk about the incident, sparking a viral post that was shared and liked by thousands of people.

Generous Guy

Homeless McDonald's

Pengelly felt so bad for Polly and her friend that he made the decision to invite these perfect strangers back to his house then and there. Once they arrived, the two women showered and brushed their teeth while their host cooked them up a bunch of food which would last them for days. He even boxed the food up in neat little portions and wrapped them in a plastic bags for convenience.

Some Bedding

Homeless McDonald's

Pengelly’s generosity didn’t stop there, however, as he proceeded to give the two homeless women blankets and pillows that he had spare as well as the packed lunches for days. But Pengelly was still upset about how Polly had been treated by McDonald’s staff and took to Facebook to complain about it.

New Friends

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

Pengelly explained the full story to his Facebook friends as well as others who were bound to see his post. He added a selfie he took with Polly along with the caption: “I couldn’t help but notice the lady in front me, all she asked for was a cup of hot water,” he wrote. He took issue with a “multi-billion pound company” refusing a homeless woman water.

Disgusting Behavior

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

The post continued: “The member of staff told her no. I don’t know what was going through their mind but a lady, clearly homeless was asking for a basic human right, and for a multi-billion pound company, for them to say no is disgusting!”

Heart Shattered

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

Pengelly didn’t stop there though as he went on to explain how his heart was “shattered” by the incident he had just witnessed. “My heart was shattered! So I spoke to her and told her to order what she wanted, expecting her to order everything,” he wrote. But he was also in shock at Polly’s humility in the face of adversity on a cold Sunday morning in Cardiff.

In Shock

Homeless McDonald's

As Pengelly explained: “I was so shocked. She asked for a single cheeseburger and that was it. We bought as much as we could carry so I knew she wasn’t going to be hungry.” He also admitted that meeting Polly affected him deeply and that he was even brought to tears by her, but in a good way. He wasn’t shy to admit that even as a grown man, he was moved to tears.

So Lovely

Homeless McDonald's

“I couldn’t just leave this lady go, she was so warming and so lovely,” Pengelly wrote. “So I sat with her, on the cold hard floor, in the middle of winter and you know what I did? I cried my eyes out,” he admitted. He also took issue with all the people who walked past Polly and friend and ignored their plight. But Pengelly was even more upset at the people who had mocked them.

Reaching Out

Homeless McDonald's StoryWollertz /

“You know if people of Cardiff walked passed them and didn’t do anything because, financially, they weren’t in the position, I would understand,” Pengelly wrote. However, “people walked passed and laughed at them. I don’t care who you are, if this was you, and you’re reading this I hate you!” As soon as he got talking with Polly and her friend he was also shocked at how well-spoken and educated the two women were.

Full of Life

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

Pengelly explained, according to a report in The Sun, that these homeless women were highly educated and full of life. “When I got to speak to them I was genuinely shocked at their story and how educated they were! So full of life and enthusiasm and they literally have nothing!” he explained. But Polly and her friend were also touched and moved by this stranger’s random act of kindness to them.

Selfless Act

Homeless McDonald's

Pengelly didn’t think about himself or his own wallet for a moment as he was so taken with Polly and her friend. “I invited Polly and her mate back to my house and we all cooked enough food to feed them and their friends for the next few nights. We boxed them up and packed them in their bags,” he explained. The fact that the whole thing only cost Pengelly around $25 made him feel like others should be more helpful to homeless people.

No Saint

Homeless McDonald's StoryJonathon Pengelly / Facebook

As he explained on Facebook, Pengelly hasn’t done anything like this before but as was in the right place at the right time he felt compelled to do so. “I’m no saint, but this small act of kindness cost me about £20. I know 90 percent of people reading this will earn about 10 times that a day.”

Raising Awareness

Homeless McDonald's

As Pengelly explained: “It costs nothing to be kind, and I genuinely hope people share this to raise awareness of homelessness throughout the UK!” But meeting Polly was so special for Pengelly that he has even stayed in touch with her and speaks to her regularly on the phone. He even made her a solemn promise that she will never be hungry or cold again.

Helping People

Homeless McDonald's

Pengelly clearly feels strongly about what happened to Polly as well as the plight of those living rough on the streets. “If you see someone on the streets, don’t look down on them like they’re nothing. You don’t know what they’ve been through! Spare a little thought!” Adding that in many ways he is a changed man thanks to Polly.

McDonald’s Response

Homeless McDonald's

When McDonald’s head office was contacted by reporters for a response to the incident, a spokeswoman spoke to Mirror Online. “There is no McDonald’s policy to ban homeless people from our stores and the vast majority of such requests are granted by our restaurant teams,” she claimed. But she also claimed there was a reason why Polly had been refused water by McDonald’s staff.

Antisocial Behavior

Homeless McDonald's

The McDonald’s spokeswoman went onto explain: “Working with the local police, our Cardiff stores have had to ban a number of individuals due to illegal and anti-social behavior which is why this individual was refused service.” According to her, Polly had been engaging in some antisocial behavior. “This incident is as a result of illegal activity taking place in our store requiring a police-sanctioned ban of a number of people.”

Good People

Homeless McDonald's

While McDonald’s has come under fire for this incident, it goes to prove that there are some good people left in the world. No human being should be refused water, especially from a multi-billion dollar enterprise like McDonald’s. The fact that there are people like Pengelly who are prepared to take a stand and stick up for people that are less fortunate, is a testimony that it only takes a few good people in the world to make a difference.

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