Coffee shops are places to socialize, spend some time alone or even work – if you think you can work through the noise. Here I’m going to write about my experiences at a coffee shop – both alone and with company. I’ll be writing about the things you observe and the reasons I prefer it to sitting at home with my favourite form of caffeine – iced cappuccinos, if yer curious. My name is Nixy, and I live in Ontario, Canada.
When you go to a coffee shop you’re presented with so many social opportunities. The first is when you order. Whether you can speak or need to use ASL, you’re communicating with someone. If you’re like me and have extreme social anxiety, this can be a chore itself, but also rewarding. You’ve succeeded in placing an order and thus, succeeded with the act of communication and it is one more strike back against anxiety.
If you’ve brought company then you’ll go off and socialize, but if you came alone you have the added benefit of being able to take in quite a lot in your coffee shop experience.
Eavesdropping, while rude, is something that just happens naturally at a coffee shop. Someone will talk louder than normal and before you know it you’re sitting there learning everything there is about someone’s grandkids or their cheating husband. Sometimes you overhear the most hilarious things and they make it onto blogs like Overheard In…
For me, my coffee shop experiences have mostly been the days I’ve gone to get away from my alcoholic mother and found myself sitting alone, not quite reading the book I brought or –prior to obtaining my net book- writing in the notebook I had with me. Instead I would be staring around looking at people and wondering about them. You see couples and can guess that they’re there on a date but the people who come in everyday just to read – what are they escaping? Or are they there simply for the quiet or because they like coffee shops?
What about the people who come in alone and always seem sad? Are they bipolar like me? Do they have depression? Are they dealing with tragedy and coming out for coffee is their way of escaping? It could very well be, because it sure as hell is my escape.
I’ve had the elderly sit beside me and tell me stories like the ex-war veteran who told me about the horrors he had seen and that he saw his best friend die mere feet away from him when a bomb landed on him – but he doesn’t let it get him down because he knows he is lucky. Sure he misses his best friend but his best friend died while fighting for his country. He died heroically and he knows his best friend would not want him to stop living his own life just because he is gone. So every day he makes sure to live his life fully so his best friend’s memory lives on through himself.
Stories like those make me sit back and re-evaluate what I’m doing and they make such a difference that you don’t forget them.
Sometimes just having a complete stranger sit beside me and start talking to me in a friendly manner makes me feel so much better about myself. I don’t generally get people being nice to me. I like to joke I have Severus Snape syndrome: I look perpetually unhappy at all times and generally unapproachable. I also seem to be the butt of everyone’s jokes: whether it was back in school because I dressed as though I was poor or now because I have my own sense of style that doesn’t seem socially acceptable or something. I’m not in the trend of wearing colors or florals or girly things. I also get a lot of shit because of my eating disorder and how skinny I am. I’ll hear people behind me saying things about how they can see my back ribs through my tank top or my ‘weird hair’ – first hand, I’ll admit that I have crazy woman hair. It’s wavy/curly/straight all at once and it’s a mess and I’ve heard of a hair brush, I just don’t use it. Right now it’s a faded-out version of the flaming red hair I sported all month.
I’m bullied a lot, like I said, so it’s nice when someone sits beside me and tells me a story or just wants to know if I’m okay or asks how I’m doing. I don’t get that a lot and it’s a nice change.
Next time you’re at a coffee shop and there’s someone who looks lonely, sit beside them even just to say hello. It might make that person’s day a little brighter.
I’ve completely derailed from what I originally wanted to say but you know what? That’s okay. It’s how my mind works. Tell me about your experiences at coffee shops and the good, bad or hilarious things you have encountered or that have happened to you while there. What’s your favorite drink and dessert to order? What’s your favorite location and store and why?