Etiquette for Coffee Shop Bullies

May 06, 2011

If you’re reading this, you have a computer, maybe a laptop. All laptop users who frequent Wi-Fi-equipped coffee shops to use the internet - or just the comfy surroundings – have probably considered the etiquette or protocols for avoiding laptop wars. If this is not the case, Miss Manners in the Washington Post is there to set you straight. Recently a reader wrote Miss Manners to ask how to handle a situation in a coffee shop which concerned a laptop wielding customer demanding the chair of a book-reading customer – aka the writer. The situation revolved around the much in-demand electrical outlet which happened to be by the reader’s comfy chair. The laptop user claimed eminent domain so-to-speak, as she required the only unused outlet left in the shop while the reader did not. So the reader got up and left, feeling badly. The advice was good- the reader could have looked for another chair they could move to the outlet so she didn’t have to give up her comfortable one. She could have refused to move and let the laptop user wait until she was finished with her coffee and reading time. Between the two extremes of giving up your right to be there and digging in and refusing to leave are probably many more options. It’s likely there will not be any more outlets freed up for awhile, but maybe the laptop user could have used battery power until the reader left, then made use of the outlet. Or maybe she could have plugged in the laptop to charge while she ordered her drinks and food. There also may have been others who could trade chairs, and if people use common sense and try to find solutions, there are sure to be better ones than letting a rude bully get their way. There are many articles that come up in a Google search for coffee shop etiquette. Mostly it comes down to common sense. It is also common sense and considerate to make sure you don’t overstay your welcome at the coffee shop. Ordering drinks or food every hour or two is the least “rent” the shop deserves. If they’re not busy, they probably won’t be concerned about you, but during busy times, it would be considerate to take a break and give your prime seat to another; if this isn’t possible, order often and tip well. After all, none of us want to be the subject of the next Miss Manners column!



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