by MW Cook

I was driving to work this morning and my thoughts drifted toward coffee shops. I remember that great coffee shop we used to go to while I was in KLBC. Sometime troops of ten or more would piles into cars and get down to that wonderful place. And we’d spend hours talking and laughing and building friendships that, to this day, I consider some of the strongest I’ve ever had. That coffee shop wooed me into falling in love with coffee shops.

These days, though, I feel like coffee shop culture is changing a little. Or maybe it had started changing back then, but since Peterborough was a bit of a different kind of town, I didn’t notice. Or maybe I didn’t notice because I’m a dummy. Whatever.

Tim Horton’s is the first example. Each one is a little different, but there is one thing that is the same in each and every one. That unwelcoming sign posted on the wall that says they love your patronage, but only for thirty minutes. As much as I love Timmy’s, this sign has always been a bit of an insult to me. It seems to defy the culture that coffee shops were made to cater to. That culture that delights in sitting around and talking and loving. With that sign on the wall, I feel like I’m in a coffee assembly-line.

But then there’s Starbucks. Everyone either loves or hates them. There hadn’t been many of them when I first went to Pakistan, and now they’re all over the place. Being an aspiring writer, and hearing that all real writers need to write in public so people can see them write, I’ve sat there a few times with my computer. The Good: You can sit there all day long and no one will ever bother you or give you a funny look. You belong there. The Odd: Coffee Chop Culture is still defied there. I’m actually sitting in a Starbucks right now. You know who else is with me? Three other people with laptops, hoping we will watch each other write. A man sitting along with a gourmet cookie. A woman with an infant. That’s it.
I’ve destroyed coffee shop culture.

Coffee Shops used to be places to build relationships. Now it’s a place for fake writers to fake write. I feel cold.

Next time I need to get out of the house to write, I’m going to do it in the library. Coffee Shops are meant for people, not projects.

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