What’s Happened To The Once Friendly Coffee Shop Culture?


This is going to be a tirade about selfish people. While the context of this particular incident took place in a coffee shop, the same vein of inconsiderate behaviour that seems to plague modernity is similarly applicable to numerous situations.

Tonight started out like a typical weeknight – I grabbed my laptop and hauled butt over to the nearest 24-hour Starbucks, purchased a drink, and got ready to settle down and get to work. There weren’t any entirely free tables, but one gentleman kindly agreed to share his small round table. Looking around, there were a total of three empty chairs. Two of these were located at separate small tables, and the two men guarding these responded apologetically that they were waiting for a friend. The last unused chair stood at the communal table amidst a group of giggly girls dolled up in makeup, straightened air and high-pitched voices. I politely inquired whether the chair was in use.

One of the girls giggled back a breathy, “Sorry” and waved her arm over it protectively.

Well then, half a table won’t do me much good if there are no chairs to go with it. Sighing internally, I schlep my stuff, growing heavier by the minute, over to the second nearest Starbucks, and manage to get a decent amount of work done before being informed that they were closing a half hour earlier tonight.

So back to the 24-hour Starbucks we go! Nearly an hour has elapsed by this point, and I enter the Starbucks to find a good ten or so people standing around inside. I start scanning for empty seats with a sinking heart. The two gentlemen who’d been waiting for friends earlier have now indeed been joined by their friends, and seem to be engrossed in fun conversations.

I look over at the gaggle of girls at the communal table – there’s only two of them now, and the chair that had been empty earlier? It’s still empty – one of the girls is using it as a foot rest. There’s another empty chair at the communal table, but it’s been taken up by a huge purse.

I walk over and politely ask again whether the chair is being used. And once again she splays her arms out protectively over both chairs and giggles an airy, “Sorry” that somehow doesn’t sound sorry at all. Apparently her need to have a place to rest her precious feet is a need that must be fulfilled. Communal table in a public coffee shop be damned, standing patrons be screwed.

Is this really what coffee shop culture has come to?

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image – Dennis Wong