Rules For Sharing This Café With Me, A Writer

Jennifer S. Brown
Nov 11, 2019 · 3 min read
Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Whoa there, buddy! Were you just going to pull up that chair and sit down? We need to have a little chat first.

I am a writer. But I don’t need to tell you that since it’s clear from the sticker on my laptop with the meaningful Neil Gaiman quote. I can tell you’re not a writer because you smell like you’ve showered within the past week. You’ve chosen to sit at this table, which — as is obvious by the sea of pajama pants and the single cups of drip coffee slowly being nursed over the course of five hours — is intended for writers. Despite my many pleas to management and that one harassment charge, I am apparently legally required to allow you to sit here. We can make this work as long as you abide by my rules.

Do not encroach. This is my space. I am entitled to this area in which I have spread out my computer, my notebook, my pen collection, my phone, my newspaper, my six books of research, a copy of Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory that I’ve never actually read but keep on hand so people will know I’m a serious writer, and my lucky troll doll. You are entitled to those three inches on the corner, over the leg of the table that makes it impossible for you to pull your chair in all the way.

There is acceptable noise — the soothing patter of fingers on keyboards, the soft hum of the espresso machine, the gentle laughter of the people on the other side of the room — and unacceptable noise, which is everything you are doing. Stop chewing that scone so loudly. If you must eat at this café, then break off a piece of your bakery product, place it in your mouth, and let it soundlessly dissolve until you are capable of swallowing it.

No meetings. The café may have designated this a “community table,” but everyone understands that that means a “community of writers.” You may not sit with your friends. You may not have a phone conversation. You may not say hi to your neighbor who just walked in. Drink your coffee. Then get out.

While it may appear to your simpleton, non-writerly eyes that I’ve checked Facebook three times to hate-read about my friend’s six-figure book deal; posted twice on Twitter about you, the non-writer at my café table; and played a few rounds of Candy Crush, I’m mentally plotting my next novel. Silence is still required.

Your child is adorable. Adorable is distracting. Remove your child from the premises.

No complaining that my power cord stretches over the table, across your lap, and into the only outlet in this part of the room. You needed the light from the lamp that had been plugged into that outlet? The exposed wire from my fraying cord is burning a hole in your jeans? My cord is barricading you into your seat and you’ve needed to use the bathroom for the past three hours? I don’t care. Deal with it.

Do you not understand? This one $2 cup of coffee that will last me the entire day entitles me to absolute silence. I can hear you breathing. Stop it. Now.

I am staring into space because my mind works so quickly and creatively that I must gaze off as I process my thoughts. It only looks as if I’m staring at the ass of the hot barista as he wipes down the next table. You clearly don’t understand the writing process.

Yes, I am speaking with the man across the table but he is another writer. While it may sound like we’re gossiping about the parent who came to the elementary school PTO meeting with his emotional support rat, that parent could very possibly turn into a character who may or may not appear in a future novel, so it’s research, and therefore relevant and permissible. Your conversation about the same man is merely noise.

For chrissakes, for the last time, shut your — Wait, did you just say your brother-in-law’s third cousin is a literary agent? Please. I’ll move my lucky troll doll. Come sit by me. Breathe all you like.

But you, with the perfectly coiffed hair, the ironed shirt, and the PowerPoint presentation on your computer screen? Shut the fuck up.


Medium humor. Large laughs.

Jennifer S. Brown

Written by

I write, drink bourbon, and sometimes pay attention to my kids. Writer of fiction (novel MODERN GIRLS), essays, and satire.



Medium humor. Large laughs.

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