In honor of café furniture, I decided to feature a picture from one of my old TV favorites, The Big Comfy Couch.
Each time I step into a coffee shop, I know I’ll be getting a unique experience. With the combination of quirky couches and homemade goods, this is one corner that corporate America has yet to ruin. (And for the record, Starbucks does not qualify as a “coffee shop”.) With a promise of free Wi-Fi and a cozy atmosphere, there’s little chance that I won’t be visiting your lovely little store. Throw in the promise of people watching and it’s my own personal version of a Christmas/birthday/Arbor Day – a celebration for the ages.
These little stores are also a market for poor individuals, or rather, cheap-os (myself included). Where else can you buy a bottom-less drink for less than $3 and mooch web access for an entire day? Places like Panera kick you off during rush hour and business lobbies require a password or credit card. The homey coffee shops are alone in their venture.
The Communal Faux Pas
There are a certain code of ethics that should be considered when entering a coffee shop. Like any public park would say, “It’s ours, not yours, share it that way,” or “Leave it better than you found it,” not “Treat me as you please; someone else will take care of the mess.” The only time the latter motto ever exists is with stay-at-home moms and hotels, and even then it’s understood; never uttered out loud.
As a common courtesy, you should clean up after yourself, or, at the very least, be aware of your surroundings. That means not bringing in your own food, and not blasting YouTube videos without headphones. It means not sitting at a table of four when you are a party of one – and not trailing a computer cord across the floor for others to step over like a troll’s bridge trap. Also, it means not bringing in a power strip to charge your phone, iPod, and portable battery pack simultaneously. And this especially means not bringing a space heater to stay toasty. Even in my most freezing of frozen days, I would never consider toting around a heater; electricity doesn’t grow on trees.
(Unfortunately, I did not make these examples up. All are actions I’ve witnessed within the past month, space heater and all.)
While I do enjoy the atmosphere of coffee shops, I wish there was someone to enforce these unwritten rules. When in place, talking loudly means paying everyone in earshot $1. Taking up too much space means having to stay late to clean the bathrooms. And not tipping – the worse crime of all – costs volunteer hours; serving fellow customers at no pay. But because this justice system does not exist, because there’s no way to politely tell the crying baby to “shut up or leave,” to all of these rule breakers, I hope someone spit in your drink.