Coffee shop joys

Remember back “in the before times” when it was totally normal to spend hours in a coffee shop catching up with friends and family or getting work done? I had a whole draft I’d update to eventually share on the blog and the draft was called “COFEE SHOP COMPLAINTS” and I’d add to it any time I was trying to work and something would be horribly distracting. Here’s how far I got before the pandemic hit:

*Hearing super clueless or offensive conversations from those around me- oftentimes the LOUDEST conversations in the store. I’m talking misogyny/racism/abundant unchecked privilege and terribly illogical arguments.

*Loud phone conversations- I’m not just talking quick calls someone with a loud voice is making, I’m talking whole conversations over speakerphone or FaceTiming with no headphones. If the offensive in person conversations were the loudest, then the loudest phone conversations always seemed to be of a DEEPLY personal nature and were therefore extra uncomfortable as I tried to go back to working and give them some privacy that they either didn’t care about or were to clueless to realize just how much they were giving up…

*Speaking of awkward- PDA… oh the amount of times I’ve watched public displays of affection from high schoolers who have nowhere else to go but the coffee shop… Maybe I’m crazy puritanical but I just REALLY don’t need to see people’s tongues when I’m trying to enjoy a pastry and a chai…

*Speaking of people’s tongues… I was once at a Starbucks where this lady was eating yogurt…and whatever she was doing to her spoon included her tongue shooting FAR out of her mouth and making all kind of slurping noises that I now expect from my infant during baby led weaning. I feel a little mean about this- maybe she genuinely didn’t know how or wasn’t physically able to use a spoon a normal way? But It was just so loud it was slowly killing me.

*HORRIBLY strong perfume… especially when there are no free tables further away to move to… though now that we are int his pandemic maybe that’s a good way to encourage people to stay 6 feet away from you… here’s another strategy that might work for that but definitely was rude and unnecessary pre-COVID

*Manspreading… to the Nth degree…your stuff should not be everywhere when its busy. Community tables are not meant for one person to spread out papers so that no one else can sit there. You are not the only person who needs space to work. OH, and if there aren’t many outlets then PLEASE don’t Bogart them, especially if you don’t even have a device you are charging… be aware of which spaces have outlets and at least be polite enough to agree to someone running their charger under your table if you won’t agree to move.

*Other really awkward moments such as: little girls pretending to be adults, adults acting like children, and people singing along to the soundtrack playing over the loud speakers…. and not in a charming flash mob fashion

Of course, since locking down this spring, I have of course started remembering all the joys of coffee shops- joys I noticed at the time, but didn’t think were worth writing about. But now I’m guessing others out there are missing some of these as much as I am…

*Just. Getting. Away. Even five minutes away. This was something that really kept me sane after having a second kid. Even if I was just going to the Starbucks down the street or grabbing a muffin from a local bakery while I updated my bullet journal, I felt a sense of freedom from disconnecting from all the endless to-dos at home. “Escaping” to the bedroom while my husband has the baby just isn’t quite the same and I’m always noting something else I should maybe be doing instead or to add to our list or that just consistently annoys me because we haven’t fixed it yet.
*The random background music- As an effort to combat the feelings I mentioned above, I try to put on some sort of background music while I write blog posts from home or do other similar tasks… and that does help (I’m used to working with noise, I have always preferred it!) But it’s not the same when I pick it myself because I can’t be delighted/surprised by something new that I want to look up and listen to again in the future, or by an old favorite that I would never think to search for myself and listen to at the exact moment I didn’t even realize I needed a pick me up, etc. The only time I won’t miss this is during the holiday season…. why play holiday music if you only have 50 minutes of it to play on repeat?!
*The smell of SO MUCH freshly ground coffee. Aside from when I am pregnant, coffee is one of my favorite smells. We just can’t have that be the only smell in our house the way it is at a coffee shop, and synthetic coffee smells in a candle just don’t cut it…
*Hearing a deeply supportive conversation or witnessing an act of kindness that restores my faith in humanity: I once was sitting at a communal table and couldn’t help but overhear bits of a conversation  between a senior gentleman and a young new mom where the he was encouraging her to take time for herself, telling her she was doing a great job, and how hard it was both to be away from his own young family and to miss opportunities he wanted to take but felt he couldn’t with such young kids at home. It was deeply encouraging. I love watching people randomly buy the stranger behind them drinks or leave the baristas incredibly generous tips. I even love the excitement you can hear three tables away when kids are surprised with a baked treat they don’t usually get.

I can’t wait to go sit at a cafe again and feel safe about it. I’ll take all the annoyances if I can get back that same level of goodness and surprising delights. Until then… at least I can lie down while I write blog posts from home… even if that reminds me that I need to fold some laundry… off I go…


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