Common Courtesy – Common Sense

July 23, 2011

How to win friends and not make enemies at your favorite coffee stop.

A commentary for our current culture comes to us by way of the coffee shop etiquette gurus. Where is Emily Post’s successor anyway? Since Post retired, she seems to have left a void, as many writers are coming out with how-to’s on grappling with the Wi-Fi coffee shop rules of sit and surf. Oh to have one respected authority on how to use the coffee shop without being a total squatter.

Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz have added their two cents of common sense to the growing online compendium of common coffee shop courtesy. They begin by stating that the summer heat makes the coffee shop office away from the office even more attractive as a place to work or play on the internet. Last winter we were told that people were drawn to the coffee shops as a place to enjoy the warmth. Seems like the coffee shop is just attractive, period.

It being decided that many people like to work on their laptops in the coffee shop environment, winter or summer, we best be practicing our courtesy cues. It’s most important to share the tables and the plugs, as both are at a premium, but whatever you do, do not sit where you can read someone else’s screen - nobody likes a critic. If you must listen to music, obviously you need to use headphones. Then there is the cell phone issue, which asserts that it’s rude to talk on your cell phone among other patrons, so if you must take that call, step outside or into a hallway to talk. If you keep your phone on, then at least put it on vibrate only.

It might seem obvious, as do all the suggestions, but when one works on somebody’s turf, rent should be paid. When it comes to the coffee shop, rent is usually in the form of menu items. Coming in as doors open and staying into the afternoon means something more substantial than a cappuccino should be ordered. The longer one stays, the more one should order. It could also be added that the more crowded the shop, the more money one should spend. After all, if one is taking up table space, it might be keeping other would-be patrons out and thus not able to spend money at the shop. All patrons at the tables should be cognizant of how much is being bought so they can make up any slack in business caused by their presence.

The last piece of advice applies anywhere there are keyboards or laptops: do not set your drink close to others’ laptops. Respect the boundaries of both patrons and shop owners, and you may be a welcomed guest rather than a squatting pest.

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