This morning I found myself at Caribou working and drinking coffee.
Before you call me the ungreenest person ever for driving to coffee and drinking from a paper cup hear me out. Normally I do not drive to get coffee. However, this morning posed an interesting problem.
Imagine 6 bags of coffee bags but no bean grinder. Where is the grinder you ask? In a few nonfunctional pieces. Accidentally it met its death on the kitchen floor when I dropped it. Therefore, no way to grind the beans. And trust me, at 6:50 this morning I desperately considered my options. All of them:
1 - Chewing beans apart
2 - Sucking on beans
3 - Pouring hot water over beans
4 - Pounding beans with giant mallet
5 - Using food processor
6 - Going out for coffee
Reluctantly I settled for number 6 – reluctantly because it would require putting clothes on and taking a shower. Not my favorite Monday activities. Anyways, I headed out to Caribou and quickly became trapped in a mass of morning traffic. Made worse than usual on Monday by the fact that most of the suburbs were under water as 7 inches of steady rain in 24 hours left the rivers swollen and streets flooded.
After going south to the west to go north to finally go west again, I arrived at Caribou. The one place where I can drink good coffee and get free internet. Good because I needed both – coffee as my lifeline, internet as my online connection to my coaching program and athletes.
No sooner did I settle into the quietest table in the back of the shop than the noise arrived. Enter one young girl. I knew we were talking trouble because she was talking incessantly on her cell phone. Kind of loud. Seriously sister I don’t care to here the details of your conversation about...nothing at all. You know the kind? It went on for about 10 minutes. I tried to drown it out but once I had gotten my ears used to ignoring her annoying voice next came the music.
Now, I’m a big fan of music. But not two at a time. On the store speakers was jazz. Good enough. On her laptop speakers was Kanye West. Good enough. But together? Please no. I thought maybe she had her headphones turned up loud but then realized – no headphones. Who sits in a coffee shop playing their music for everyone? And when she played that stupid song by Madonna that samples Abba for the TENTH TIME IN A ROW she almost got my hot dark roast in her lap.
I would have moved. Should have moved. But could not have moved. Why? I was sitting by the only available outlet. And I could have left but do you know how long it took me to get here this morning? I’m staying at least that long at this table. AT LEAST.
I settled on her noise but then faced another challenge. Enter a group of 3 women. After a few minutes I eavesdropped – no, actually I had no other choice because they were talking and it was either listen to that stupid Madonna song for NOW THE ELEVENTH time or tune in over there.
She was getting a divorce. And within 10 minutes I had learned the entire sad story of her married life. The restraining order, the struggle of marrying someone that didn’t pay bills, leaving her family in California. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out but – hey, divorce court, take it outside! Shouldn’t this be done in the privacy of a lawyer’s office?
Can you tell it’s Monday and it poured steady rain for 48 hours this weekend leaving me trapped – TRAPPED I TELL YOU – in my house?
I’ve got a pretty long fuse. I can drown out all kinds of inane chatter and noise. For crying out loud I was rode my bike for 142 miles with nothing but the sound of the wind in my ears. I’ve got crazy endurance for stupid things. But all of this comes after my Saturday morning meeting with an athlete at another Caribou. I know, what’s with the Caribous…well, they are usually quiet, easy to reach and they have good coffee. Enough said. Anyways, while we were quietly trying to talk triathlon, three young children were running around the place like it was a playground. I know kids are squirrely and like to run and shout. But this was like the devil loudly possessed them out of control. Do not underestimate the shouting power of 3 young children. The entire place was echoing with their squeals and between that, the grinder and the other conversations, I could barely hear a word from my friend.
Finally the barista – a gentle older man – went over to the moms and politely asked them to leave.
Yes. YES! They make playgrounds for children to run in NOT coffee shops. When I have kids this might be different but….might not. I shall respect the sacred ground of the grinded beans. Coffee shops are for quiet conversation and introspective thought. Light conversation. Visits with friends. NOT to be confused with Chuck E Cheese, Studio 54 behind me or Divorce Court. All of you outlanders – GET OUT!
Rules. There should be rules. Or at least an age limit. Or a noise ordinance. Curfew? I don’t know. We have rules everywhere else in life – why not in the coffee shop? I take my coffee seriously. There are more serious coffee drinkers out there (ie., Jerome Harrison who has actually posted reviews on coffeegeek.com) but I’m sure they would agree – the drinking of coffee and all of these other conditions actually cancel out the enjoyability factor of the coffee itself.
Perhaps people need a quiz before they come inside the coffee shop. If you can pass it, you can enter. If not, get the hell out the door.
Adults are to coffee shops as children are to:
1 – Coffee shops
2 – Grocery shops
3 – No shops; children do not like shopping go back home and watch the wiggles
Loud music from your laptop is acceptable:
1 – When piped through headphones only
2 – In a coffee shop
3 – Never if your taste includes Madonna – BARF! ICK! Someone please pay her to STOP making music!
Legal problems are best solved:
1 – In the protected seal of confidentiality called a lawyer’s office
2 – In a coffee shop
3 – In front of a dozen strangers who are not interested in hearing the details of your soon to be crazy ex-husband
Ordering a frozen drink in a coffee shop:
1 – Is like ordering hot soup at Jamba Juice
2 – Results in immediate disqualification from future visits to coffee shops
3 – All of the above. And more.
Maybe the quiz was distributed or maybe they all heard my internal cries. Because eventually the music from behind me stopped. And the attorneys wrapped things up with the divorcee. All quiet returned to the shop and at that point it was time to move on in my day.
But I have learned my lesson. Next time I will come to the coffee shop armed with large headphones, a few of those gold ooles they have at the theater with thick velvet ropes surrounding my table and a sign that says do not disturb. And if that doesn’t work, I’m divorcing coffee.
I’m gonna need a lawyer for that. Excuse me - over there - lawyers wearing firmly pressed business suits sitting at the large table in the corner, do you have the time to hear my story about how coffee betrayed me? Get out your legal pad. This one will take some notes.