Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Edition: Coffee Shop Rules

So, labor day is upon us, which for me this year means that actual labor resumes tomorrow. This, after a year on leave.

But I thought I'd blog on another subject today, one near and dear to my heart: working in coffee shops. This is something that I've done since grad school, and I'm in the habit now. It's nice, because it allows me to work and be social at the same time (though probably less productive at the first than I should be); it's essential because my home "office" is a corner of my 10 x 12' living room, and my work office is shared.


There are rules to this kind of working, rules that I've noticed because of the frequency with which people violate them. So, as a self-proclaimed expert on the subject, I here present...

Notorious Ph.D.'s Guide to Etiquette
for Working in Coffee Shops

1. Order something. Never forget that this is a place of business. If you're there for more than an hour, order something else. Repeat as necessary.

2. TIP GENEROUSLY. I cannot emphasize this enough. Think of that dollar you shove in the tip jar as the rent you pay on your table. When you order something else (see rule #1), tip again. If you're there over a shift change, don't neglect to show the second shift some love.

3. Share your table. We all like some room to spread out, but if you're at a table for four, you don't get the whole thing to yourself, especially if you're there for a long time, or if it's crowded.

4. If you need to share someone else's table, ask first. Don't just plop yourself and your twelve pounds of books down at an occupied table. That person may be expecting someone, or maybe not, but it's just rude to assume you're welcome. Most people will say yes to a request to share, so what does a little common courtesy cost you?

5. Don't be a pest. If you're sharing a table with someone else who's working, don't assume they are open to chatter. Exchange a few pleasantries, and by all means introduce yourself if you've shared with them before. If you're sharing a table, and a person you know comes up to say hi, suggest taking the conversation a few feet away from the table, so the other person can work. This goes double for cell phone calls. In general, assume that the other person is there to work.

5a. Do not assume that they're there because they want to date you. They probably don't. Nor do the employees of the coffee shop. Even if they smile at you.

6. Get some work done. 'Nuff said.


Psych Post Doc said...

I too love, love, love working in coffee shops. I'm proud to say I follow all of your rules.

I also always make it a point to learn the staff names if I become a regular.

Belle said...

Sheesh, I wish somebody would post your rules at all doors.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for shooing away those folks who come to coffee shops to make new friends and who decide that you are their next target? I mean, I appreciate friendliness, but sometimes working in the coffee shop (which I do all the time since I have two kids at home who WILL NOT let me work there) is like being on an airplane. People ignore the books and apparent work in one's hands, and they launch into extended conversation or monologues. Do you have any tips other than "Well, I guess I'd better get some work done." I never seem to get that one out until we're about 20 minute into it all . . .