So I recently added a new item to my roster of random activities: studying for an exam of sorts next month.
In order to study, I had to buy a textbook.
Apparently, it’s a pretty special book. I’m certain that there’s a high-tech cat alarm embedded the spine, designed to alert all felines in the vicinity of the fact that the book has been opened.
Maybe that is why the book was so damn expensive.
Frequently, I tire of fending them off and retreat to the coffee shop down the street to get through my daily study quota.
Now, I know that a lot of people love to work at coffee shops – or perhaps love the idea of working at coffee shops. And as someone who has spent a lot of time toting her laptop around over the last couple of years, I’m here to tell you: it has its benefits and drawbacks. While setting up shop at Starbucks is a nice change of pace, it presents its own set of challenges. I won’t even attempt to address the study in human psychology that is Power Outlet Negotiation or Territorial Table Staking. Instead, I’ll just focus on the lovely people that one encounters.
Because you do encounter them – over and over and over again. I’m convinced that every Wi-Fi-equipped coffee shop in America contains as least one of the following at all times:
1) The Power Brokers
There always seems to be at least one guy who has taken it upon himself to transplant his entire office to the coffee shop. He plugs in both his laptop and his Blackberry (jerk!) and proceeds to conduct Big Urgent Deals, usually on speakerphone. He is oblivious to the fact that he is operating at twice the decibel level of everyone else in the room. Eventually, he’ll shove everything back into his briefcase, sigh dramatically, polish off his latte and rush out the door – leaving his empty cup on the table, of course. Big Urgent Meeting, no doubt.
2) The Freeloaders
I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll look at a fellow coffee-shop-camper and be like, did you actually buy anything or are you just sitting here? Not that it really affects me, I suppose, except that I don’t really enjoy smelling someone’s leftover tuna casserole that they brought in with them. It appalls me that so many people seem to think this is acceptable. Sure, there are comfy couches and everyone is slightly disheveled, but this is still a restaurant. It’s not your living room. Leave the Tupperware at home and buy a pastry if you’re hungry.
3) The Oversharers
Many coffee-shop patrons seem to think that because it’s such a casual and comfortable atmosphere, it’s okay to engage in highly intimate and/or embarrassing conversations. They also seem to be unaware that the tiny rectangular table upon which they plant their soy macchiatos does not, in fact, create a magical soundproof bubble around them. Psst: we can all hear you.
I will admit that sometimes I do actually enjoy the inappropriate gossipers and drama-mongers. When I lived in New York, one of my favorite escapes was a particular Starbucks on Ninth Ave in Chelsea. Oh man, those boys could bring the dramz! It was pretty entertaining.
(And as a note: I actually did witness a version of the conversation illustrated. The guy walked out crying. It was unbelievably awkward.)
4) The Keepers of Unruly Spawn
I have no idea what it’s like to be the parent of a toddler. For all I know, it’s hell on earth, and taking your hyperactive child to Starbucks and letting him unleash his obnoxiousness on everyone in the room is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, considering the circumstances. Like I said, I have no idea.
But I do know that if your kid is about to break the springs of the sofa or is doing sprints around the table, perhaps you should have taken him to Gymboree rather than Coffee Bean. And also, if he unplugs my power cord one more time, I’m going to feed him every sugar packet in the canister. Then think of what you’ll have to deal with, Momma.
Effing hipsters. Enough said.
It’s a tough call: the drudgery and distraction of home versus the endless parade of grating characters at the local cafe. I always tell myself that getting out would be great, because then I could be around people. But I always forget that those people are often obnoxious.
At the end of the afternoon today, I was more than happy to come home.
They may beat me with their tails, bat at my highlighter, scatter my pile of notes and generally prevent me from reading and/or retaining any information whatsoever, but at least they’re cute.