I’ve never really contemplated how annoying I might be when I camp out at a Starbucks table for hours on end, nursing nothing but a tiny cup of black coffee. I have now been on the other side and I am ashamed of my table-hogging behaviour.
Today, as I stood there in what is quite possibly one of the most poorly configured, tiny Starbucks’ imaginable, I held my short cup of black coffee (not even a tall!) wanting nothing more than to write today’s blog post about a completely different topic while killing time between meetings. Sadly, as I looked around, I could see that my goal of abusing Starbucks’ generous free wi-fi policy was in serious jeopardy. There were no seats. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There were available chairs at semi-occupied tables, but let me tell you there were clear signs that others were not welcome at these tables.
Let me summarize the lot of Starbucks table hoggers that I encountered:
–The I’m-saving-this-table-with-nothing-but-a-single-glove woman: I mistakenly assumed that I could use a chair at the table but was not-so-kindly advised that “Oh, that table is mine. That’s why my glove is there” as if it’s universally known that leaving a glove lying on a table is marking your territory. Let me also add that her glove was placed at a table for two. I gathered from her comment and tone that she would not be open to donating her second chair to me and my laptop.
–The I’m-talking-on-the-phone-so-you-can’t-ask-me-if-you-can-share-my-table woman and man (yes, there were two of these): I mean, really, who sits at Starbucks to gab on the phone? Everyone around you would clearly be eavesdropping on your conversation while simultaneously finding you highly annoying.
–The I’m-not-even-drinking-a-coffee guy: I’m sure at one point the person was consuming either food or coffee, but I feel like once you dispose of any evidence that you’re a paying customer you should forfeit your right to a table. Starbucks, you are far too lenient. What made this guy worse is that I’m fairly certain he knew I was looking for a chair, and yet he continued to just sit there, doing nothing, drinking nothing and eating nothing. And, though I can’t prove it, I swear he appeared smugly satisfied that he was depriving me of a seat.
–The I’m-going-to-take-up-the-entire-table-top-with-just-my-laptop guy: This was actually the most overt and creative way I saw someone clearly imply that he was not up for sharing his table. He sat on one side of the table. His laptop occupied the exact opposite side the table. To type, he had to stretch almost his entire arm span across the table, which looked beyond awkward and uncomfortable. I actually sort of respected it, though, as it’s something my anti-social self would do in a heartbeat.
Long story long, I didn’t get a seat and I didn’t write my blog post ahead of time, and I was hugely grumpy arriving to my next meeting. On the bright side, I have a new-found empathy for others who I may have kept from a much needed hour of table-space in a crowded coffee shop. From here on in, I solemnly vow never to violate social norms by needlessly nor excessively occupying table space. You have my word on it.