The 9 Coworkers You Have When Your Office Is a Coffee Shop

By Elizabeth King November 23rd, 2015

Like many freelancers, I spend a lot of my work time in a coffee shop. They have coffee (duh) and muffins. I love it. Best office I’ve ever had.

Throughout my time at the neighborhood coffee shop/office, I’ve noticed a recurring set of characters. Some of these people are a welcome presence, while others will make you wish you had an office door to slam. But for better or worse, these people are the only coworkers you have.

The barista who doesn’t recognize you after hundreds of visits

You know he sees hundreds of customers a week, but dang it, you’re special!

You come in multiple times per week, order the same coffee and muffin, and camp out for hours at a table a mere five feet from the counter. You get periodic whiffs of his dreads. And each day he still asks you: “For here or to go?”

For here! Always for here!

The New York Times crossword hipster

This guy is a great coworker. He’s really quiet, and, ostensibly, pretty smart (he even times himself on the crossword!).

The NYT crossword puzzle hipster also likes to look up and stare out into space while he’s thinking about the current clue. Sometimes it seems like he’s looking right at you, which reminds you that you actually exist for a few seconds.

The guy who never knows the Wi-Fi password

“Hey, do you know the Wi-Fi password?”

Yes, it’s the same as it was yesterday, and last Friday, and the Tuesday before that.

The college kids who are smarter than you

There’s always someone at the office whose very existence crushes your self-esteem. At my coffee shoffice, this coworker is a group of University of Chicago physics majors there to work on a group project. While you’re doing a write-up about Charlie Sheen, they’re calculating quantum something or another and working out vectors… or something.

Upon encountering groups such as these, you will naturally find yourself sitting up straighter, typing faster, and fiddling with your glasses/coffee a lot more than usual.

The caffeine addict

There are always one or two people who, over the course of the morning and early afternoon, will go up to the counter to refill their giant mug at least five times.

I’m generally twitching and bouncing off the walls after only one medium-sized cup of java, so while I admire their ability to basically convert their blood into jet fuel, they also make me a little nervous. That much caffeination is bound to make a person snap eventually. Hopefully it won’t be in the coffee shop.

The tattooed woman with a huge stack of books

At my coffee shop cum office I frequently see a woman whose body is covered in tattoos, and she always has a large stack of books with her. They never look like textbooks, either; she just carries a massive pile of novels with her wherever she goes.

I thought that perhaps this bookworm was unique to my own little corner cafe, but in the few times that I’ve camped out at a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee, I’ve observed the same sort of person planted firmly with their mini-library and impressive amount of tattoos. All coffee shops are just different parts of the same parallel universe.

The burgeoning entrepreneurs

It’s great working around these folks, since they always seem to be glowing with energy as they hover around their laptops and work on their new business venture, AirPnP (it’s the Uber of airplanes).

“Yes! Yes, great idea. I love that.”

I like to pretend that they’re talking to me, especially if I’m having a rough day.

The couple on a first date

Is this an interview? Are they waiting for more friends to join them? Nope. They’re a couple on their first date, and they will sit as close to you as humanly possible.

If you’re crabby like I am, you will find this annoying. Nice people will probably think it’s adorable. The wise will turn the conversation into their next story.

The traveling consultants

“How did these out-of-towners even find my little neighborhood coffee shop?” you wonder as their black briefcases and stiletto heels threaten to collapse your coffee shop’s ancient wood floor.

You have no idea, but you do know that these folks really love to talk smack about one another as soon one of them heads outside to make a phone call you can hear through the glass wall.

For some reason, no matter who they are or where they’re from, they all hate their clients and they can never (and I mean never) come to a consensus about lunch in under 30 minutes. But hey, at least you don’t work in their office.

Image by Peter Bernik
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