Coffee Shop Courtesy

So this guy at the near-the-diner Starbucks spreads all these documents and notebooks one comfy chair.  He sits in the other nice one, working on his laptop.  From the looks of things he’s been there a while, like since he first started his consulting project or novel or whatever.

Serene on the outside. Inside, it's every man for himself.

I ask if I can move his junk stuff Very Important Research.  He gives me that look that intimidates women and children.  But I’m a guy, so I just glare back.  I move his crap portable desk, and sit down.

I whip out my iPhone, check headlines and weather and e-mail, drink my coffee and leave.  Mr. Big Tough Guy keeps tapping away.  He’s probably still there.

Which brings me to today’s “06880” civility questions.  The topic is: “What is proper Starbucks etiquette?”

  • Is it okay to turn the place into your own office?
  • If so, can you commandeer one of the few comfortable chairs, or should you cede those to customers who don’t nurse 1 small regular coffee through 3 consecutive barista shifts?
  • When you take a bathroom break, can you save your (nice) seat by leaving your laptop on it, and strewing other personal possessions around it?
  • If the music is too loud for you to concentrate, are you within your rights to ask an employee to turn it down?  How about telling people at the next table to pipe down — thumbs up or not?
  • If you settle in to Starbucks every day for hours at a time, is there a moral obligation toss money in the “Tips” jar?  If so, how much and how often?

These are important questions, as every Starbucks-going Westporter knows.  Click “Comments” to add your 2 cents.

67 responses to “Coffee Shop Courtesy

  1. Sounds like the typical Starbucks patron. Why are you surprised and/or annoyed? Who did you expect to find in Starbucks?

  2. You’ll never find that sort of behavior at Coffee’n, Westport’s PERFECT coffee and donut shop. The patrons are unfailingly polite, the coffee hot and donuts the great equalizer for celebrities and us regular folk alike.

    Guess you really are where you eat as well as what.

    • or new Dunkin’ Donuts in Saugatuck

    • It’s obvious that people don’t go to Starbucks for “PERFECT coffee and donut”.

      PS: If Coffee‘n’Donut only sold coffee they’d be out of business a long time ago.

  3. Here’s a thought on cell phones. I am waiting for the installation of cell phone booths so that the entire world doesn’t, have to listen to all af the conversations that are deemed so important to the user and not everyone else! When people buy a cell phone they should Also get a handbook in the box called “cell phone etiquette” . So tired of all of the noise,

    • Have you ever wondered why cell phone conversations are so distracting to others nearby — much more than regular conversations? (I sure have.)

      The answer is that because we hear only one side of the cell conversation, our brains freak out. They try to supply the other half, making us concentrate on that conversation, whereas we can tune out normal background talk by others.

      In fact, a study showed that it is easier to study in a room with higher decibel noise than it is in a room with a cell conversation carried out at normal level.

    • Just buy a Cell Phone Jammer like I did.

      It works great on the Train to /from NYC.

  4. the staff at that SBUX are so considerate, if anyone asked them to turn the music down they would do so immediately; in addition to being naturally polite, remember, they all hold shares in the company, i.e., they’re going to want to make sure you are happy there.

    and, your take on why people are so unnerved by others cell conversations is great; i’ve always wondered why others/how others are even tuning into their neighbors’ conversations, i.e., it’s as if the former are not turned enough into their own.

  5. No. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. (to answer your questions).

    Dan you just scored major points with me (and I already held you in pretty high esteem), ” But I’m a guy, so I just glare back. I move his crap portable desk, and sit down”.

    We need more men like you (for the record I’ve done the same thing at Starbucks). Funny thing is, they look at you like you’ve done something wrong and you’re the rude one.

  6. I’m guilty of working for a long duration while cranking out a Huffington Post piece at Starbucks, Panera etc. BUT… I use one table in the most out of the way area possible. if I need to use my phone? Outside I walk.

    People question how I can work with all of the noise, but this is the atmosphere I prefer, actually I hate working in silence. And I get to “run into” friends, who feel free to stop by to chat for a few moments.

    What irks me? Those unable/ unwilling to remove their trash from the coveted tables and the stroller brigade moms who have no problem taking over half of the store and let their sweet children run crazy. Can they do this at home? I doubt it very much. Some are just plain rude.

    Mary Ann West
    contributor: Huffington Post

    • anonymous II

      You chose to go to SBUX. The noise and the children are part of that choice. You could get your own office, but that might make too much sense. BTW can you work at home?

      • The Dude Abides

        Seems rather upper crusty for a Huffy liberal, don’t u dink?

        • anonymous II

          SBUX is very PC; the anti-DD. Huffy isn’t a liberal; she’s a leftist.

          • Guys… clearly you haven’t read anything Ive written, I prefer the progressive mantel, although I once told my daughter I considered myself a moderate: we cracked up laughing.

            At least I try to be a good guest, clean up after myself and leave if the site becomes crowded.

          • anonymous II

            I have, and I see why you and your daughter had a good laugh.

          • The Dude Abides

            Knows how to make money. Stripped the wannbe guv and now AOL.
            Must have taught capitalism in Hungary.

        • Dude,
          Arianna is Greek, married a rich gay Repbulican, divocred him and took half and that’s the rest of the story.
          People only think she’s Hungarian because she sounds like Lisa Douglas from Green Acres.

          • The Dude Abides

            350 M from AOL. She’s a looker ’till she’s open that yap. LMAO
            on Lisa likness.

            The Dude Abides
            Contributor: 06880

  7. If I wanted that man to get up and leave, I’d put on my best come-hither smile and warmly say “hello”. Suddenly, his seat becomes vacant. Works everytime and I’m a dude.

    • Funny, but what happens if you get the same smile back and an invitiation to join him?

      • In Westport??

        • Well, it was next door to the Cedar Brook Cafe (oldest gay bar in the country?).
          ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that’.

          • The Dude Abides

            John, have you seen every Seinfeld episode like me???

          • Yes, but I’m not having any ‘contest’ with you.

          • The Dude Abides

            Trust me with my lady, I would never lose. George, I believe
            won the “bet.”

          • Obviously you haven’t been married too long.
            Like George I would lose the bet (he cheated, remember the final episode when he confesses?).

          • The Dude Abides

            Engaged after 36 years of frigidity w/#1. Joy to the
            world. Did not know George confessed or cheated.
            That must be in the airplane scene?

          • anonymous II

            36 years. You too.

          • The Dude Abides

            Ex reinvented community property law: 80-20 split.

          • You know why divorce is expensive…because it’s worth it (so I’ve been told).

            Or maybe you represented yourself and you know what they say about those who do…they have a fool for a client 😉

          • The Dude Abides

            No, mutual settlement with some leverage. Of the two
            attorneys in the family, she turned out to be the smarter.
            Women always are.

  8. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Lets address each point… No it is not appropriate or ok to stake claim for an extended time…go home, go to your car, or go buy a folding chair at costco and call it your place of business

    No you can not comandeer a seat or area if you are a lone patron…. Go to Sherwood and sit at the counter.

    The rule of move your feet lose your seat does not apply to going to the bathroom… There really is no wiggle room here…. But if the said person has been rude inconsiderate and to quote Charlie a troll then when said person goes to the bathroom… You are more than welcome to sully and disturb his world
    Music volume is not that big a deal
      Loud people is easy just ask them to use there in door voices if not just talk louder than them about how the rash you are trying to get rid of is really bugging you

    If you are camping out at sbux then a fee should be levied

  9. why don’t you just interrupt ‘the man with the laptop’ and ask if he wouldn’t mind your taking that chair? i doubt he has the time enough to take your request personally so maybe you shouldn’t either?

  10. Dennis Jackson

    Agreed, Anonymous. Let courtesy, kindness, and common sense guide your actions.

  11. Dan, you are awesome

    In addition to the fact that our brains get screwed up listening to one side of the conversation, I’m convinced that there’s something in men’s dna that makes him talk twice as loud when on a cell phone than any other time. I’m not sure if it’s that they just can’t believe that this tiny little device actually carries their deep manly voices across the air waves, or if it has to do with needing to let the entire coffee shop know how incredibly important they are… (I mean, they must be REALLY important if they use Starbucks as an office, right?!)

  12. caffeinated & historiated

    dude, coffeehouse-standard-of-conduct rules set in the 17th century, 1674 to be exact; a penny buys a cup and a chair’s all-day-rental, but no games of chance allowed.


  13. Dan, there are three general types of individuals inhabiting this planet: sensitive, insensitive, and ultra sensitive.
    You, Dan, are ultra sensitive.
    That’s really good, but it makes your life 2/3 difficult as you deal with the other two groups, especially the insensitive. These are the less evolved humans who put their feet on the seats on Merto North, speak loudly on cell phones, talk in movie theaters, and yes, spread out in SBX. They block hallways and doorways and Hors d’Oeuvres tables at parties, get their drink and then remain at the bar at weddings, and can usually be ID quickly, because they bump into you without an apology, sometimes as they cut in front of you in a line.
    They don’t get it and won’t get it, ever, until their next incarnation. But they need help. They need a strong dose of RUDE. They will appear terribly upset that you questioned their manners or even suggested they be polite. Don’t even give it a second thought. They are insensitive out, and overly sensitive in. It is very common.
    It’s difficult for an ultra sensitive like yourself to be “RUDE,” but if you think of it as a way to help these souls on their path to perfection, you can actually get to enjoying your contribution to improving the human race.
    Perhaps it’s something in the SBX coffee?

  14. The Dude Abides

    Why anyone would want to go to Starbucks is the real question? Bunch of nerds sitting around pretending to be Hemingway. Lousy muffins too. Take a long run. Much better for you than the nasty caffeine anyhow.

  15. Starbucks – where the elite like to be seen. Lousy, overly strong coffee is the
    price they pay. Regarding the cell phone CEOs, I love to just sit closer and really enjoy (their half of ) the conversation. I smile, shake in agreement, make sad faces. It drives them nuts.

    • The Dude Abides

      Gary, you should really get a jammer (see above). It really works.
      My buddy uses at Sherwood Diner and drives people nuts when
      they get interrupted. Another friend take an old phone with just a
      cord hanging and pretends he is talking on it while others yap away.

  16. ‘help these souls on their paths to perfection?’; that statement screams of arrogance to the point of ignorance.

    i didn’t realize that being a SBUX regular in Westport brought one under such scrutiny; maybe those ‘scrutinizing’ should make an effort to be a little more self-centered.

    • anonymous II

      Have you lived in Westport long? Every aspect of behavior is scrutinized and categorized, and then judgements are rendered; get used to it. BTW is seems you have.

    • sounds like you have a thin skin. keep hiding, no name. are you one of those regulars who Dan speaks of ?

      • The Dude Abides

        Regulars? Is that like anti-constipation?? II has a thicker skin than a rhino. And nothing goes unnoticed here.

  17. With all this conversation, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO SHOPPING LOCAL STORES????? Rick at Great Cakes could certainly use your business!!!!

  18. you’re right anonymous II that i have accustomed myself to the scrutiny but not so much that i don’t call it out every now and then because i suppose that i’m still optimistic thinking that if i do so it will stop the majority of the people from putting others under a microscope. sort of my brain-sorbet while working on totally unrelated projects to see how generic within USA/New England area ‘dogville’ is. (pointing out what a total hypocrite I am; I have unabashed prejudice against those that are biased).

    • anonymous II

      You missed my point; you have subjected others to the same sort of scrutiny you find disturbing; ironic.

      • you’re right, i was agreeing with you anonymous II (see last line, i realize that in this regard i’m a hypocrite).

  19. Starbucks gladly welcomes in busy adults and students to do work in their shops. Who are you to judge or question a person for turning a small space in starbucks into their office for a few hours? You dont know their situation.

  20. When is answering a cell phone more important than the person in front of you? Talking on a cell phone in front of other people is like Facebook…people can pretend they are something other than they are…important, needed, having an exciting life.

  21. The Dude Abides

    I think people on cell phones are afraid of being alone. It is their “teddy bear” in a land and life of fear.

  22. I must buy a jammer.