Thursday, 5 January 2012
Coffee Shop Etiquette
Ok so at around noon, this place (the local coffee shop that I have become a regular at) becomes overcrowded, giving me lots to write about and little physical space to do any work. I know the schedule well, so I try my best to get here at an appropriate time (sometime between breakfast and lunch) in order to get a good seat. Yes, I think about my seat before coming here. Sad, yes, obsessive, just a little. With these kinds of expectations, I have to think about the environment and my choices sometimes. Do I want to be surrounded by interesting people, who might provide me with mild entertainment and good writing material, while I slowly dig through this pile of work that seems to consume my mental and physical space, or do I want to be completely alone with nothing to occupy my mind except for the work?
So why would this be an issue at all? Well for starters coffee shop etiquette has been something that I’ve been thinking about for a few days now. I’ve spent the past three out of five workdays sitting in the same coffee shop only changing locations, not chains, to get a different perspective and give the staff a break from me. I’ve been trying to get through these infinite piles of work and I have to admit that I take up more physical space in the coffee shop than most people would consider appropriate. The new coffee shop near my house has a huge table that can accommodate my work and at least two other people who need just as much space, and we all seem ok with sharing that space. It appears to be inviting and communal, however, when I made the change today I needed to sit at one of those “four seaters” where the tables could be separated and of course I had a couple of ladies ask me (while looking at that piles of work surrounding my space) if I needed both tables. Well, after looking up in confusion as a result of having been entrenched in work for over two hours straight, I thought to myself, is this situation not self-explanatory? I felt like a jerk for thinking this and hummed and hahhed while slowly starting to move my things. Luckily, they spotted another table and rudely left, grunting as they walked away. I’m not sure how to handle this situation. Was I being greedy by occupying too much public space? Is there even a measurement of public space that we are all allowed to occupy, like parking spots or something? Or was it rude of them to assume that I should accommodate them?
In keeping with the integrity of this blog, I want to try my best to be as kind as possible, however, this was a difficult situation and even when I do move my stuff to accommodate others I feel as if they are already upset at the fact that I have taken up that much space to begin with. I’ve been asked, “is this your office away from home?” and in all honesty, yes it is and I know this the same for many people. So what do we do? Try to cram ourselves into the smallest seats possible in an effort to accommodate others, or do we go about our business using as much space as we might need to complete our own work? What is the appropriate coffee shop etiquette in this situation?