Since it took, like, a humorously long time to get internet set up at my new place (silly Comcast!), I’ve spent the last week and a half working from coffee shops. And here’s the thing: no matter where I went, from a tiny hipster coffee shop to a bustling midtown Starbucks, I saw the same people. Not the exact same people, obviously, but the same basic cast of characters. Who are they? Read on to find out…
1. The college student who is barely visible behind their pile of textbooks. Depending on how close it is to finals week, you might hear muffled sobs coming from behind their great wall of math and chemistry tomes.
2. The person who is dying for someone to chat with. This person might not mean any harm, but if you let yourself get drawn into a conversation with them, it’s nearly impossible to extricate yourself, and there’s a good chance you’ll die of boredom, face down in your latte, while they prattle on about the plot of their third sci-fi novel. Avoid at all costs.
3. The guy who brought headphones but doesn’t understand volume control. Sure, dude, we’ll all love to listen to Sublime’s Greatest Hits with you. That would be great.
4. The awkward first date. Meeting at a coffee shop always seems like a good idea for a first date: it’s not a big commitment (“Let’s just meet for coffee!”), it’s a public place, it’s neutral ground. The downside? Everyone in the immediate vicinity is pretending to be busy on their computers, but they’re actually listening intently to your stunted banter about how much you enjoyed “The Silver Linings Playbook.”
5. The retirees who hang out and shoot the shit all day. Hey, there are worse ways to spend your golden years than gossiping with good friends over bottomless black coffees.
6. The person working in their PJs because their home internet crapped out. Rushing to the corner coffee shop in your Spongebob lounge pants to meet a deadline is basically a rite of passage for bloggers. It’s mortifying, yes, but we’ve all gotta do it sometime.
7. The self-important businessperson. They’re wearing a suit, checking their watch constantly, and having a way-too-loud cellphone conversation about how so-and-so missed her sales goals again. They also don’t tip or say “thank you.”
8. The crusty dude who may or may not be homeless who is giving everyone the stink eye. Best give him a wide berth.
9. The women in designer yoga pants who meet up before their exercise class for non-fat, sugar-free drinks. Gotta fuel up for hot yoga!
10. The person who really wants you to notice what book they’re reading. Because what’s the point of reading Infinite Jest if you don’t do it in public, with the cover propped up in such a way that everyone can see the title and be impressed?
11. The forty-something single dude who hangs out there ALL THE TIME and flirts with the young baristas. This guy is the bane of every female barista’s existence (it’s incredibly difficult to gently reject corny pick-up lines while taking orders and steaming milk), but at least he generally tips well.
12. The person who demands their drink be remade. And will keep demanding a new drink, over and over and over, until it’s perfect. Unfortunately, it’s unclear what their definition of “perfect” is.
13. The person working on their obscure hobby. Maybe they’re painting tiny renaissance-era action figures. Maybe they’re playing Go on a bamboo board. Maybe they’re translating “Lolita” into Vulcan. Whatever it is, they’re almost always seated at a corner table, and they’re so hyper-focused on what they’re doing, you could probably shave their head without them noticing.
14. The brazen bathroom user. This is usually an old guy who tucks a newspaper under his arm, saunters into the bathroom, and doesn’t come back for half an hour.
15. The person who can’t get the internet to work. They’re desperately asking everyone around them for help. When you try to help them, it becomes clear it is this person’s first time ever using a computer.
16. The mom with a baby/toddler who is thrilled to be communing with adults. After a full day of dealing with poop, drool, and crying tantrums, she needs a few minutes of small talk–not to mention a triple Americano–to save her sanity. Indulge her.
[Photo of coffee shop sign via Shutterstock]