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When too much is too much


We’ve all done it. Bought a coffee for $1.50 and sat for endless hours in a coffee shop nursing it. This seems to be a growing trend. With the rise of independent workers there has come a similar increase in the use of the coffee house as an office – otherwise affectionately referred to as the “coffice”.

This is an attractive option for the freelancer who can choose a new coffice as often as they like, and at far less expense than what would be paid to rent office space.

But this begs the question of how much is too much? That is, time spent at the coffice relative to the money spent. After all, the business owner is there to make a profit, made possible by 1. turning over clients, and/or 2. having those who stay there consume.

So why bring this up here you ask? Well, I think this is a great example of a time when we should be mindful of others’ needs beyond our own. Asking coffee shop owners to charge for WIFI is not the answer, nor is asking people to limit their stay.  Free WIFI is plentiful and people resent feeling like they are being rushed out.

But if we are thinking beyond ourselves, there are two options in my view: pay your way, or leave. Who decides what is equitable consumption is you. If you feel that you’ve overstayed your visit, or haven’t purchased enough to justify the hours you have logged using WIFI and warming the seat, chances are you probably have.  Especially if all tables/seats are full.

At the end of the day, the answer to what is equitable will always be subjective. But the hope is that by discussing the issue, people will be more mindful of how their lazy days may be impacting others, be it the coffee shop owner or the next guy who wants to take a load off.

Be compassionate. Put yourself in the shoes of the owner trying to pay the rent. Or consider how you feel when you walk into a coffee shop and there is nowhere for you to sit. If we each spent a little less time thinking about ourselves, and a little more of that time empathizing with others, well, it would be really great.

And if “cheap” is the primary selection criteria, the library would fit the bill quite nicely.

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