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Borders Books And WiFi: 5 Unspoken Rules Of Proper Coffee Shop Etiquettes

Updated on February 6, 2011

Ever see people enjoying themselves at the coffee shop in Borders? You might have seen me there. Maybe not. I'm not exactly a coffee shop rat but I do like to relax in the cafe as I read a good book, magazine, or while I use my netbook. After familiarizing myself with a few dozen visits, I've noticed some unspoken rules. “Coffee Shop Etiquettes” if you will. I know what some of you may be thinking. “Etiquettes in a coffee shop?” Yes. They may not be official rules but after clocking in some hours with my caffeinated beverage, they are definitely apparent if not obvious. What are these rules? When should you follow them? Grab some books, buy a cup of coffee and come with me.

These rules are not set in stone. You don't have to follow them if you don't want to. It may be a good idea to remember them if you frequent the establishment. Making a good impression on the staff is always a good thing. Lets look at these 5 rules.

Borders Cafe
Borders Cafe | Source

Rule 1: Don't Be A Cheapo

The first rule is buy something. Buy a coffee. Buy a snack. If you are going to set up a computer or will be reading a book or magazine for an extended period of time, buy something. Borders and Barnes & Noble are not libraries. They are a business. They're in business to make money. Sometimes, the coffee makers call out your name when they finish coffee. Sometimes, they will even bring it to you like a restaurant. If this is the case, you should tip them for their service. When should you not spend money? If you are just going to sit down for a minute, you don't necessarily need to purchase anything. If you are settling down, especially for hours, it's almost a given that you buy at least a cup of coffee. At least.

Rule 2: Seats

The second rule is seating. How many people are you with? Are you alone or are you with a group? Don't take up a big table if you are alone. Take a single seated chair or a small table. It is proper etiquettes to take the smallest to largest. If there is no single seats, take a double seated table. If there is no double seated tables, then you can take a larger table. If a single seat or a smaller table opens while people are waiting, move to that seat or table. When coffee shops are busy, its very frustration when there are no seats. I've had times when I wanted to sit down and there are no seats. I had to wait for someone to leave in order to sit down. When should you not care? When there are many open seats. If the coffee shop is not busy, sit wherever you like. Except on another person's lap!

Rule 3: SHHHH...

The third rule of coffee shops is talking. If you are with someone, talk quietly. Even though it's not a library, you should still be respectful of others. Some people read by talking to themselves. If you are talking loudly, it can be distracting. Don't be annoying There were times when people around me where talking and laughing loudly. I wanted to choke them! Lower your voice. You can have a conversation and everyone can still enjoy themselves. This rule is just common sense and good manners.

Rule 4: Phones

The fourth rule is similar to the third. Phone calls. If your phone is ringing, answer it or silence it immediately. If you are with someone, excuse yourself. Take the phone call where you can speak as loudly as you want. A good place is just outside the store. In Borders and Barnes & Nobles, most places are cell phone friendly except the coffee shop. If you are alone and you don't want to give up your seat, talk quietly and make it brief. Even if you are not talking loudly, talking on the phone tends to make others uncomfortable. This is true even if you are speaking at the same volume as another person. Why? Talking on the phone makes others uncomfortable because they cannot hear what the other person is saying. In contrast, if you were talking to someone in front of you, everyone around you can hear the conversation putting them at ease. This is also why some establishments ban cell phone use. It's disturbing and rude.

Rule 5: This Is Not Geek Squad

The fifth rule is Wifi. Respect the Wifi connection. Don't connect to their Wifi and download torrents. This eats up bandwidth for others. If you have to download, try downloading smaller files. If you must download large files, limit your bandwidth. There are lots of programs that will control your bandwidth. The Wifi rule also extends to surfing. Don't surf porn. Do that at home. This is a public place. No one needs to see that stuff. If you are watching videos, wear headphones. No one wants to hear whatever you're watching. Another thing about Wifi is tech support. If you are having problems with Wifi, first ask the staff if Wifi is on. Don't bug other people for tech support. This is not Geek Squad. If the staff says Wifi is on, deal with it. If you cannot connect to Wifi, it's your problem. Don't make it someone else's. One time, I saw a man bothering a couple enjoying their coffee because he couldn't connect to Wifi. They were clearly annoyed but the man wouldn't leave them alone. Finally the couple packed up their laptops and left. Don't be a jerk. If you can't connect to Wifi, it's no one responsibility to help you. Wifi is a privilege. It is a complimentary service. You don't pay for it. Therefore, you don't get free support. Don't ruin it for the rest.

Common Sense

These are 5 unwritten rules of coffee shop etiquettes. Some are common sense while others are a bit more specific. I think the last rule speaks loudest. People just want to enjoy themselves, quietly. Try not to do things that will disturb others. If you are spending a good length of time there, spend some money. If you especially frequent the bookstore, you don't want to be know as “the creepy guy that stays for hours without buying anything.” Don't be the lady that sets up an office at the big table when people are waiting for a seat. That's just inconsiderate.

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