Working or studying in a coffee shop is wonderful – you get out of your regular domicile and head somewhere new, motivated by others working and studying around you. But there are social norms and rules one must follow to work properly in a public area. It’s just the environment of coffee shops - they’re social death traps.
Allow us to explain with a few guiding rules.
1. Thou Shalt Not Raise Your Voice
I can’t imagine any scenario where people would be stoked on you blasting your booming voice across a coffee shop. In the decibel department, coffee shops should slide in a couple of levels above a library.
Do you see how close together these tables are? If you’re using anything above your side-convo-at-a-party voice, everyone will hear you. I can’t even ballpark how many first dates, job interviews, and meetups I’ve accidentally sat through because of necessary proximity.
Be mindful of your surroundings. If you are looking to have a lively discussion, raucous debate or a heated phone call, take it outside.
2. Wear Ye Headphones For Conversational Abstinence
You only know this if you work consistently at the same coffee shop, but there are a lot of people looking to tell any passer byes their life stories (yes, they have multiple, it seems).
The only thing stopping these people from engaging in your life is with headphones. It doesn’t matter whether you are legitimately listening to music or using them to cancel out background noise, just put them in your ears, and they’ll keep most nuisances away.
__3. Thou Shalt Know Thy Way To The Water Closet (A.K.A. Protect Your Sh*t) __
If you plan on occupying a seat for a few hours, and must go to the bathroom, go when you first arrive and before placing your order because that fancy new laptop or other modern electronic device may as well be a child.
You either need to keep it with you at all times or find a sitter. The latter isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds—or actually, maybe it is, but we, as a culture, have all gotten used to it. At some point, asking strangers to protect your stuff from other strangers became a thing, regardless of how insane that may be.
Find either the most trustworthy person or the slowest (because if Plan A fails, you’ll need to chase them down). To cover your butt, sit closer to the bathroom than the exit. Ideally, though, never leave your gear (or actual children).
4. Thou Shalt Find Ye Outlet Immediately
As much as you want to misplace your faith in a computer battery, it’s going to wrong you. It just is. I know, you see the fully charged bar, and you think, “My god, I’ll never have to charge anything again!” But you will, and it’ll be sooner than you anticipate. The last thing you want is a side of range anxiety with your double shot.
If you are lucky enough to arrive at a coffee shop that’s mostly empty, choose wisely by sitting next to the plug. If not, find one by looking for where everyone else has gathered.
Coffee shop outlets are like African watering holes – necessary, yet full of surprises. Approach slowly, and sit patiently nearby until someone abandons the turf. You’ll have to move quickly because your not the only power predator in this caffeinated jungle.
5. Thou Shalt Wear Layers
We’ve heard stories from baristas who use the thermostat as their secret weapon against loafers. If too many people are working and not ordering, they’ll turn off the AC in summer or the heat in winter and watch as people too hot or too cold, take off.
Baristas twist the thermostat around a dozen times each hour because the room temperature won’t remain the same if it’s a packed house of college students, a sprinkling of moms getting together, or just the one dude in the corner that nobody knows whether they’re dead or alive.
If you show up with a big bulky jacket and a t-shirt, you have only two options, and we’re certain there are not just two temperatures in this world.
Do you know what that means? It means you’ll distract everyone with your tornado of continual dressing and undressing, and we’ll have to protect our stuff to ensure your flailing arms don’t knock over our setup. Save yourself and coffee – wear a light sweater or hoodie.
And that is the madness of the coffee shop. Please work and study responsibly.