• Debbie Slaughter

The Awkwardness of a Coffee Shop



So, I’m sitting in a coffee shop alone, because… you know… it’s the thing to do these days.


It’s awkward. I’m awkward. Alone is awkward.


I’ll never get used to being alone at a table, in public, but today….here I am.


An early appointment got me up and out and I thought having a quick lunch in this quaint little place would be a chance to get some writing done. I hear a change of scenery is good for writing and it sure beats looking at laundry and dogs who want my attention.


I want to order a sandwich and coffee, because it always looks so cool (and hip) when I see people on TV drinking coffee with their sandwich, but the Raspberry Lemonade catches my eye and I go for that instead.


I find a table - the farthest from other people (which isn’t very far because this place is crowded today) and sit with my plate of food and glass of lemonade and I pull out a notebook to keep me company. I’ve also brought a magazine for inspiration, so I lay that on the table too. I’m picturing the scenes of all the Hallmark movies, where someone is working in a coffee shop or diner and just how perfect they make it seem.


I desperately want to take a picture of my plate of food (you know - for documentation and sharing), but there’s a man across the way and I fear he’s already caught on to the strange fact that I’m eating my chicken salad sandwich with a fork, and I don’t want to make this situation any more awkward (did I mention how uncomfortable this is?).


Oh! He’s getting up, so I quickly snap a picture of my plate and my lemonade for later; making sure to get just the right angle and framing.


I jot down a few notes as I’m holding my notebook under the table because I want to document my time here, but as invisibly as I can, of course.


I start looking around the room and notice there are others sitting alone, but not like I’m alone. They all look comfortable with their aloneness. They look “cool and hip” alone and I just look and feel the “awkward” kind of alone.


I see two older ladies sitting across from me and they are adorable. I can hear little bits and pieces about couches and such and imagine they probably meet here for lunch once a week….right after their hair appointments.


Down the way, there are two younger ladies meeting - one has a hefty notebook and one looks like she’s the victim of a sales pitch. Poor thing.


CNN is on the TV in the corner, which I find boring and think they should have HGTV on for the current crowd. You know, all the comforts of home.


The thought of HGTV reminds me of all the things I should and could be working on at home, but am neglecting while I’m sitting in this coffee shop looking at people.


I make a few more notes in my notebook that’s still under the table and laugh at my time here.

I’ve only lasted half and hour or so in this awkward place, but it was enough to remind me that it’s good to get out, if only to see how other people eat their chicken salad.


I finish my food, pack up my stuff and practically run to my car. I want to pat myself on the back for lasting 30 minutes and at the same time, hide from the world in case anyone in there recognized me.


Such is the life of an uncool introvert who would rather have blood drawn than ever sit at another table alone.


But you never know. The need for a change of pace might hit me and cause me to seek out another half hour of awkwardness in exchange for a good story.


For now, I’ll just keep stepping over the piles of laundry, let the dogs out one more time and walk back to my little space in my little office, where I can eat my chicken salad with a fork and no one thinks I’m strange.


It sure beats the awkwardness of a coffee shop.

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