March 1, 2011

Is this seat taken?

Yay me! My Denim Hipster tutorial was the featured blog-post in this week’s Winnipeg Girl Geek Blog Challenge. The challenge has been fun to do so far and it was extra-nice to see the shout-out in this week’s newsletter.

Now, on to this week’s challenge. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to find a blog-post that we disagree with and write a response post. I am always hesitant to publicly challenge the opinions of other bloggers (unless they are completely wrong, of course…), but in this case I’ll make an exception and add my two cents.

Note: It’s not the blogger that I am taking issue with, but the general practice that he’s talking about.

The subject of the blog entry is “How to Always Get a Seat at a Crowded Coffee Shop”. Innocuous enough, sure, but the author’s intent is not to just secure himself a chair and enjoy a latte and a scone. Rather, he’s looking for a place where he can set up his computer and work on his book for several hours. And, this is where I start to take issue.

I think that somewhere along the line, we have started to confuse coffee shops with libraries. It’s now become perfectly acceptable to settle in, spread out your textbooks/spreadsheets/computers, kick off your shoes (yes, I’ve seen it happen) and spend a good 3 hours working on your dissertation/taxes/screenplay. As a bonus, if you bring a friend, it seems that you are entitled to spread across 2 tables and their accompanying chairs.

There are probably a million reasons for this increasingly-common practice, including the “hot spots” that the cafes themselves install to attract customers, but aren’t we taking advantage of their hospitality just a little? What about the people who are just there to (god forbid) drink a cup of coffee? I can’t tell you the number of times that I have wanted to have a seat at my favourite coffee shop, only to be forced to take my venti to go because every single table is occupied by people “working”.

Don’t get me wrong, I take my laptop to Starbucks on occasion, too, but I am always careful to limit my stay to the amount of time it takes me to finish my beverage. The way I see it, $2.40 buys you a cup of coffee and a place to sit for 30 – 45 minutes, tops. Any more than that and you’ve either got to make another purchase, or move on and make way for paying customers; the latter being the only option (sorry!) if there are people waiting for a seat.

But, I digress. Back to the Amateur Gourmet’s blog post…

I guess after thinking about it some more, I have decided that I am firmly on the fence on his piece. While I applaud him for his advice on how to *politely* request a seat, I am still a little bugged by his ultimate intent, which is to while away the afternoon. I mean, yes, it’s good to get out of the house and be amongst people, but going for coffee should be your break from work, not the other way around. If you “work from home”, then you should do just that. And, call me when you’re ready for a coffee break. I’ll meet you at Starbucks.


  1. I have been known to spend a little too long on occasion in the comfy chairs at Second Cup, nursing my coffee and playing or blogging on my laptop. The difference though, is that I try to limit myself to one seat, and if it starts to fill up I accept that it may be time to give up my spot.

  2. Full-disclosure: I have been known to take an extended, fireside crochet-break at Starbucks. Or two.

    I think, after further reflection, that my big beef is with the "crowded coffee shop" part of the article. I think that there is a time and place for everything, including lingering, and primetime at a cafe is maaaybe not the best time to stage a marathon cram-session or write eight chapters of the next "War and Peace".