The Ugly American: How to Kill Your Local Coffee House (and the World in General)

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First, show up there everyday like it’s your job—in fact, why not just call yourself a cyber commuter and call your local coffee house your office and take up a table until closing time with your paper work all spread across it and your cell phone ringing and pinging with calls from your stupid life … coaching clients or whatever the hell. I’m sure the owner of the coffee house doesn’t resent your selfish ass for sucking all the atmosphere out of his life-long dream and the food out of his kids’ mouths and the mortgage out of his bank account or anything. I’m sure he won’t mind having to move his family to a lean-to under a freeway overpass because your insensitive ass is too cheap to rent an office of your own, so instead you choose to impose your boring work environment on his paying public. And no, the croissant you bought with your cappuccino, bringing your tab to a whopping $8, doesn’t come close to paying rent for an entire table all day, you total Tampon. Fuck you.

Second, shush the people at other tables—who, by the way, are engaged in real discourse with real people and having real ideas about how to live purposefully—because you’re trying to conduct a business call in which you try to talk your whiney Web-design client into a flash screen for her guaranteed-to-fail cookbook blog. I’m sure the kind proprietor of your local coffee house has no problem with you treating her customers like they’re underlings in the next cubicle. I mean, God forbid if coffee houses went back to being the lively symposiums where great minds once gathered to affect social change, launch artistic movements and incubate the counterculture that broadened the minds of entire civilizations. Thank God there are people like you who can serve as kryptonite to creativity and social interaction.

Third, by all means, bring your computer and camp out. There is nothing more welcoming to potential customers than a room full of self-involved, Bluetooth-encrusted morons stuck like suckerfish to their personal little sensory-deprivation devises. Don’t worry, I’m sure the price of your three refills and all-day free water will keep the coffee-house proprietor flush in second-hand bathrobes, which she can use to pad the bed of the abandoned truck she’ll have to live in thanks to the fact that most people would rather stab themselves in the eye with a spike than spend precious time away from their office at a place that, hey!, has been taken over by you and turned into another office. While you’re at it, why not gather your “team” and conduct business meetings there, too? I’m sure the coffee house owner won’t mind if you move all the tables together and cover the bulletin board with a big bar chart to map the progress of your cardboard-box company’s SEO campaign. By now your local coffee house is a carcass, anyway, with all the atmosphere of an airplane toilet. It’s time for you to move onto the next one and suck all the fun out of it as well, and so on, until the entire world is just a giant waxball of wasted potential. Thanks to you. Congratulations.

Photo: Roadsidepictures, CC-BY

Hollis Gillespie is Paste Travel’s The Ugly American columnist. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which is on bookstore shelves now. Follow her on Twitter.

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