Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Bail Yourself Out part 2

That guy at the coffeehouse won't shut up

People often go to coffeehouses for reasons beyond that invigorating shot of caffeine. The coffeehouse's role as a so-called "Third Place" — neither home nor work — has been written about often. It can be a communal place to meet a friend or make a new one, find love, plan a protest march or get a little free therapy courtesy of the bored barista.

For some, it is a place to work quietly yet still be comforted by the presence of other humans — a cozy spot to study, listen to Slim Whitman on your Sony Discman or write three pages of that novel that you will never finish.

So what can you do when you are suddenly cornered by some friend-of-a-friend who is determined to talk to you about Obama/the weather/the situation in Palestine?

"This happened to me yesterday — I was the annoying old friend," said Todd Schartung, a regular at Sunergos Coffee in Germantown. "A friend from my old job came in. I hadn't seen him for a while and he acted all happy to see me. But before the conversation was over with, I was talking to the door. He was on the other side, headed out with his wife. And his wife waved, but he didn't."

Kane Holbrook, meanwhile, uses the old "get up and go to the restroom" ploy.

"You tell him you have chronic diarrhea and you really must go to the bathroom," he said. "You say, 'My IBS is really buggin' me.'"

What if you're the barista who's trying to work and that customer just won't move on?

"You get a co-worker to tell you that you really need to help him find a very important invoice," said Holbrook, who makes your lattes and cappuccinos at Sunergos. "That seems to work best for us, because that happens quite often."

And what if that doesn't work?

"A guy who tells me stories all the time came in. I just told him, 'I don't care,' and walked away from him," said Sunergos barista Eric Hammond, with a laugh.

c. 2009 Velocity Weekly

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