You walk in. It’s dark. The industrial inspired light features are dimmed to the point of absurdity. It’s the ambience you would expect in a night club, but that’s not where you are. You squint your eyes to make out the menu. It’s in a small, tight script that makes it even harder to sleuth out the prices.
“5 dollars for a 12 oz. ?!,” you grumble incredulously to yourself.
The employees eye you as you pull out your wallet. It’s filled to the brim with receipts that crumble onto the counter as you pull out your debit card. You try to awkwardly laugh off your embarrassment. They eye you up and down and go back to talking about something interesting.
As you swipe your card you finally take a look at your barista, their eyeliner is perfectly sharp, hair styled carelessly and carefully, their aesthetic reminds you of something from tumblr or instagram.
You look down at your basic t-shirt and jeans and curse yourself for not picking an outfit that better expresses how cool you are.
After paying for your drink and trying to avoid the plethora of dogs that sit by their owners feet that hope for a scrap of their owners’ flaky croissant to fall on the ground. The dog is shedding. Is it okay with the health department to even have dogs in a coffeeshop. It seems gross, but that dog is a good boi.
You pick up your drink and hesitantly take a sip. It doesn’t taste like your usual overcomplicated drink from Starbucks (you were too nervous to ask the baristas if they could take off the foam and add more pumps of syrup to your drink). It’s bitter and sad and tastes like something you would drink after you’ve given up.
Looking down at the cup with a shrug, you decide to grin and bear it. You’ve already spent 5 dollars and it’s too late know to tell cooler than you barista that maybe the locally sourced Chai tea latte tasted a little too much like leaf water for your taste. But it’s okay…right? You’re a cool, hip young professional.
So you head over to the way to small coffee bar that’s really a reclaimed, vintage wooden dresser and try to add some sweetener to your drink. Except there is none. You see a clear liquid sitting on the counter. Is it water? Is it the clear life essence of the people who were not cool enough to be in this coffeeshop. Oh no, am I the next person who turns into clear life elixir. Who adds water to a drink? Does more water make the leaf water taste better? You take the bottle and put some of the liquid on your finger. It’s simple syrup…nice.
You look around before adding the heaps of sugar water to your drink. From the corner of your eye, you can see cool guy with Benjamin Franklin glasses looking your direction. He looks unimpressed. Is it directed towards you? Either way he doesn’t look happy. You shield your chai from his line of sight, so he can’t judge you for the ridiculous amount of sugar you’re pouring into the cup. It’s already been 30 seconds of squeezing the simple syrup in the cup. You take a sip, hoping that it finally tastes better. It doesn’t. Know it tastes like sickly sweet leaf water.
You give up and head to a table. They’re all full of people typing away at their laptops, you avoid looking at any of them. Instead, you move to the closest table and pull out a chai. As you pull, the legs of the chair stratch against the aesthetially stained wooden floor loud enough to rival the explosion of the Yellowstone supervolcano. You sit down and try to unzip your backpack, but the zipper is stuck. You pull and pull and the zipper makes the loud zippy sound. It’s embarrassing. You silently berate your backpack for making a fool out of you. Doesn’t your backpack love and care about you? But then you remember how it’s a biking backpack and you haven’t ridden a bike in 10 years and maybe the backpack feels betrayed that it never gets to feel the wind in its hair and now you think “Maybe the backpack is right”. You decide to take it up with your backpack once you’re out of the coffeeshop.
You’re almost ready to start working. Chai on table, backpack in the adjacent chair, and now all you need is your planner and computer. You pull out the small pouch you keep in your backpack full to the brim with nice pens. You’re searching for your favorite pen. It’s the Pigma Micron with the .25mm tip in black. It’s the perfect $1.50 pen to write in your $25 planner. You push the calligraphy pens, glitter gel pens, mechanical drafting pencil, two swedish erasers, three different kinds of washi tape, two midliners, e one highlighter, and either different Pigma Micron pens out of the way, but you can’t find THE PEN.
You give up and decide that the Pigma Micron with the .25 mm tip in sepia will have to suffice.
You sit click-clacking away on your computer, but mostly watching Netflix. You’re in the zone. Focused. Driven. Only slightly distracted. Until,
The barista takes the aux cord and starts a playlist. It sounds good at the beginning, it has a beat that you can tap your feet to and then all of the singer starts singing in French and now someone else is mumbling on the track and then outside you see that there’s a street concert and the DJ is blasting Ludachris while making loud neon lights flash and now the coffeeshop is ruined by these two clashing aesthetics.
You throw the $5 drink away.
You find the nearest Starbucks and buy you’re too expensive drink. Here no one can judge you. It’s a bunch of people having business meeting, other college kids working, and people sitting on their phones watching Youtube videos. You indulge in the quiet of a manufactured, maintained environment. It is a sterile aesthetic. You feel safe.