I like to work in coffee shops. I’m not sure if it’s the smell, the atmosphere, or the blow to the self-esteem that comes with sitting around so many people who are most-likely penning the next great american novel or Jennifer Lawrence movie and not actually on Facebook, but I love it.
While I cruise Pinterest when I really should be returning emails, it’s usually the same cast of characters that is scattered around me. And it’s in my vast experience of bopping around shops in several different states and cities that I have determined that everyone falls into one of five categories at a coffee shop. Allow me to educate you.
1. The Student
You can find the student by their slightly disheveled appearance and the look of pure defeat and anguish on their face as they stare into their laptop or book. Most will be chewing on the edge of a pen or pencil, and will sigh aggressively every so often. Their table will usually have multiple beverages on it. Careful not to catch their eye because if you look like you’re an empathetic person, The Student may finally succumb to the stress and burst into tears after seeing your kind, understanding eyes.
2. The Freelancer
This one can be tricky, as the success of a freelancer can usually be determined by one of two basic appearances. First includes trendy clothing, well rested, and optimistic. They are the Freelancer that looks too well put together to be sitting in a Starbucks on at 2pm on a Wednesday, but yet they smile softly as they work on their computer. They usually get refills on drinks too, as if prices don’t matter and money is abundant.
The second type of Freelancer looks similar to the student, but older and slightly sadder around the eyes. Wrinkled clothing and a slight sense of desperation as they squint at their computer are another trademark of the the Freelancer. They either type at a feverish pace, or stare sullenly into a blank document. They usually order the smallest size beverage.
3. The Artist
The ornate leather, or otherwise hand-crafted books they carry are a dead give-away. Either it be with a notebook and pen, or a novel for pleasure, the Artist has a special hunch they assume when concentrating. They will usually congregate at the most comfortable areas of the shop– the couches, if available– because they’ve most likely been there since the shop opened. They usually have tea, or black coffee, and seem like they are way too comfortable with this public space. Artists have been known to even rest their feet on the couches.
If you’re still not sure, a dead give-away is having a hat. Artists usually have hats with them, either already on their head even though it’s 76 degrees outside, or ready to put on before they leave. And even though they have on six different layers of clothing and are drinking hot tea straight from the tea pot, they don’t seem to be sweating at all.
4. The Newbie
You can practically smell the fear coming off the Newbies. They pause at the door, gripping their backpacks with fear in their eyes as they try to look for a spot to set up camp. Newbies rarely make eye contact for worry of someone smelling their fear and sensing their lack of experience. Most are dressed for comfort, and wearing headphones. Once settled, Newbies will take up as little space as possible. You can catch them shooting sneaky glances at everyone around them, trying to look as if they’re not staring.
Newbies also show their weakness by forgetting to turn off their phone volume when taking a picture of their latte foam art. The immediate blushing is a tell-tale sign of the Newbie.
5. The Employee
Much like the Artist, the Employee owns the place. Despite the fact that it’s their day off, they hang out in the corner doing seemingly nothing of importance, yet wear a very serious face as they crochet, sketch, or play Candy Crush on their phone. Most don’t even bother to wear headphones.
Though most coffee shop patrons prefer to speak in hushed tones, the Employee has no issues speaking at full volume to the barista behind the counter, making small talk or jokes. Many have even been seen throwing caution to the wind and walking behind the counter all together.
If you’re unsure if you’re looking at an Artist or an Employee, just take a glance at the Newbie; the Employee is the most intimidating, and will no doubt attract their eye. The Newbie will practically wither in the presence of an Employee.
Which one are you? I’m definitely the Newbie, or, on a good day, the sad Freelancer. And I’m not just saying that because I took a picture at full volume of my beautiful latte this morning and got a dirty look from the guy next to me. Whatever, man. Do it for the Instagram, right?