Unnecessary Thing #1: Independent Coffee Shop Owners

Unnecessary Things is a column written by Meriwether Clarke, a poet with the eye of a dictator.

As a frequent loiterer in independent coffee shops across the globe (okay, just Chicago and Santa Barbara, and soon NYC, BUT WHATEVER), I have come to expect that certain standards will be upheld during my experience. Call me a snob, call me a connoisseur, call me whatever you want (as long as it’s not Tyler, I HATE THAT NAME). The point is, I spend a lot of time in these dens of pretentious caffeine consumption, so I have needs. I have EXPECTATIONS. Below is a kindly-worded letter of persuasion asking the ICSOs (independent coffee shop owners) of the world to pay a little more attention to their quietly-seething poetess customers.

March 15, 2012

Dear ICSOs,

I’ll get straight down to business. I WANT to be your best friend. I WANT free drinks, I WANT to lounge for hours at a time without judgment in your trendy thrift store furniture, I WANT to be the person you ask to sample the first batch of those maple pecan scones you plan to sell for fall. I WANT all this, so I’m not the one sabotaging everything. YOU ARE.

That’s right. I am the one constantly putting myself out there. Patronizing your crowded shop day after day, seeking out a free table with a persistence rarely seen outside of a jungle cat’s hunt for prey. I’m the one shelling out my precious cash for your cups of foamy, caffeine-filled delight. I’m the one cheerfully saying hello, complimenting your delicious squash soup, ordering more than one drink when I stay for multiple hours. And what do you repay me with? Besides the drink I just bought? Creepy employees, snobby baristas, lack of outlets, judgmental furniture. That’s right, I called your furniture judgmental. AND IT IS. JUST LIKE YOU.

Yeah, I’m calling you out on your attitude problem. I’m announcing to the world, that YOU–the ICSO I am forced to interact with because of an addiction I have no control over–are not a very nice person. You look down on me–a lonesome, rage-filled poet–because I don’t know everything about coffee bean crop rotation. Because I have no idea what the phrase “pull a shot” means. Because I understand physics more than the complicated process of foaming milk. Well, sorry. Sorry that I dedicated my 200,000 dollar education (not that I paid for it: SCHOLARSHIPS IN THE HOUSE) to something besides java (which led to a great job in corporate retail). Yeah, I called it java. ARE YOU MAD YET?

And you know what, male ICSOs? Sorry that I’m not a bro regular that you can have “witty” repartee with. Sorry that my gender makes you feel like a creep if you’re ever nice to me. Yeah, I see the way you interact with men that come in every day. YOU ARE WAY NICER TO THEM. I’m not going to think you’re in love with me if you say hi without scowling. I’m not going to assume that you’re, I don’t know, proposing to me when you politely ask if I want a refill or compliment my earrings. I WOULD NEVER DO THAT. GOD, WHO DO YOU THINK I AM?

Okay, sorry, things are getting a little out of hand. I just want you to know that I’ve changed in the past few months. I’ll never misread your actions again. In exchange, can you please just be a little nicer to me? Can you please not make me feel like a creep for coming in all the time? I just moved into my mom’s house and can’t be there 24 hours a day. It’s not my fault that I don’t have a job or any friends and need somewhere to write. So can we just be cool? I really don’t want to have to start going to Starbucks. I don’t want to go somewhere with employees who are PAID to be nice to me. I just want you to be nice to me on your own. Can you do that?

Yours in love…for coffee,




You are truly great.

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