Every time I find myself compelled to write somewhere else other than my own home, I’m pretty much guaranteed to end up at a Starbucks. The idea is to focus on the craft instead of getting up to do laundry, or deciding now is the perfect time to take out the trash. Plus, there’s coffee there.
The only downside is generally the downside I find with all tasks that take me outside my home.
Here are the 10 people you endure encounter at Starbucks.
1. The College Student
Typically, in a group all huddled together at the long communal table and wearing gigantic headphones, these kids are on their fourth espresso shot of the day and it’s only 10 AM. It’s a six-person table but each student has taken one of the four corners and their school paraphernalia – textbooks, notebooks, highlighters, pens – has cascaded into the spaces between them while their bags sit in the extra chairs. There is practically a neon sign over them that says, “You can’t sit with us.”
2. The Retiree
This guy is usually alone at the high-top bar by the windows. He’s got a Wall Street Journal in front of him but he’s not reading. Or sitting. He’s standing over your shoulder while talking loudly on his gigantic Jitter Bug cell phone about how “every day is Saturday when you’re retired!” He has also chosen the chair in front of the outlet.
3. The Stay-At-Home Mom
She told her husband that she was going to the grocery store so he’d watch the kids but she’s stopped in here first. She drops her purse in one of the leather armchairs by an outlet as she walks in and heads straight to the counter to order. She then waits impatiently at the pick-up station for her Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, Macchiato, glancing at her watch from time to time. She snatches it as soon as the barista sets it down and hurries back to her chair where she surfs the internet on her iPad for the short, blessed minutes she has to herself. She never uses the outlet.
4. The Couple
Sitting at one of the small café tables near the windows these two are clearly crazy for each other. They’re leaning over their small table talking quietly and making goo goo eyes, stealing kisses every now and then. No one else in the store exists. Only the two of them. At their tiny little table. In front of an outlet.
5. The Entrepreneur
This guy is camped out in the back of the store, headset on, making deals. His phone rings the minute he sets it down from the previous call, volume set on high to the default iPhone ringtone so everyone checks their phone whenever it goes off. He only turns it on silent when a client comes in for a consultation, during which he loudly tries to sell the poor sap shares of his cutting-edge business. He is using both plugs of an outlet, one for his computer and one for the printer he snuck in.
6. The Barista
This woman is having the time of her life behind the counter. She’s loudly telling all her coworkers how much fun she had at the club last night, pausing her story only to emit loud brays of laughter. She makes all the drinks one at a time and gets the Stay-At-Home Mom’s drink wrong twice so the manager must comp a free muffin for the wait. She also burned your coffee.
7. The DudeBro
Sitting legs sprawled into the main walkway this guy has been playing Clash of Clans – volume up – on his phone for the past two hours. He’s oblivious to everyone else around him, slurping loudly at his empty frappucino cup, which he finished an hour ago. He’s blocking and not using an outlet.
8. The Old Friends
Two former college roommates who used to be the best of friends but have moved on with their lives and refuse to let go. They have coffee every three months or so, talk about their lives and reminisce about the old days. They always say “we should do this more often.” They, too, are blocking an outlet.
9. The Homeless Guy*
Sitting by himself at a small table, he’s got a tall black coffee, which he sips slowly. All the tables closest to him are empty because of the unpleasant odor he’s emitting. He stares off into the distance with a haunted expression and speaks to no one. At least he has the common decency not to block an outlet.
*Sidenote: this might also be another college student.
10. Other Writers
Standing in the middle of the store, coffee in one hand, water in the other, searching in vain for a free table near a goddamn outlet.
Do you ever write in a public place? Give me some suggestions in the comments or @ me @dianneinwriting on twitter.