Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Get Your Coffee to Go.

I love my daily coffee breaks. Not just for the temporary caffeine high that helps me get through my day, but also for the half-hour or so I get to catch up with friends and have a good laugh, especially when the school paper season hits and leaves me with little to no free time. Whenever I head down to Starbucks, there are invariably at least five or six tables with over-caffeinated typists plugging away on their laptops. I admit I happen to be one of them, so maybe it’s the caffeine talking, but the truth is coffee shops are really not an ideal work space. If you want to actually get work done, the library is probably your best bet for peace and quiet. But hey, whatever works, right? The problem I have is that the line between the library and the coffee shop is slowly disintegrating.

Just a few weeks ago, I was at Starbucks catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while and, honestly, probably being louder than absolutely necessary. But it was 10 o’clock in the evening on a Friday night, which I deem to be too late for anything to get done anyway. A frazzled-looking girl came up to our table and rudely demanded that we “keep it down” because she was trying to make her deadline and we were disrupting her thought process.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong – but I was under the impression that coffee shops were public spaces. If you really want to get work done, a central meeting place where people tend to socialize with others is most likely not the best place to do it. Such places will inevitably make you run into friends, get distracted by random pop songs playing over the radio or yield to the overwhelming desire to eavesdrop on the juicy gossip going on at the table next to you.

What’s the draw of the coffee shop anyway? Are we so addicted to caffeine that we can’t stand to go five minutes without the sweet smell of dark roast filling our lungs? Is anyone really more productive when sitting where everyone can watch you work? It all seems like an elaborate form of procrastination.

This whole working environment seems a little less than ideal. Of course, one could say the same for the library. No one has qualms about talking about what happened in the party last night or answering phone calls in the middle of the high stacks of books and it’s even worse at the library.

So allow me to clear up the apparent confusion. Libraries are for real studying. Coffee shops are for group meetings or the fake kind of studying when you really feel like you should get something done but just aren’t motivated. Live and let live, as they say. But don’t expect others to accommodate the ridiculous idea that just because you decided to bring your work into my social arena, I should accommodate this notion.

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