How to Be the ULTIMATE Coffee Shop Barnacle
If you’re thinking about those rock-like parasites that attach themselves to whales and boats, I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the barnacles that you see at your local coffee shops and borders / barnes & nobles bookstores.
A barnacle is a long term low profitable customer.
The dude in the back that orders a small coffee that sits in the same spot for 8 hours, taking up space, leeching off the internet, and staring awkwardly at anything of interest.
Love it or hate it, but barnacles are here to stay. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, however being a barnacle is the closest thing to that free lunch. I am a barnacle and I’m pretty damn proud of it. It’s frugal if done right and everyone benefits, including the owner of the establishment.
Here are some tips to being the ULTIMATE coffee shop barnacle:
Bring other folks with you that succumb to buying pressures.
As a barnacle, your goal is to minimize spending while you take up precious resources (electricity, space, and bandwidth). You won’t be perceived as a cheapskate or leech by the staff if you arrive with folks that spend frivolously on biscottis, carrot cakes, and Oreo Javakula’s.
Don’t be a noise nazi.
I absolutely hate noise nazi’s. Coffee shops are meant to be like “Central Perk” from the TV show “Friends”. It’s a place where people can get together, catchup, study, read a newspaper, laugh out loud (lawl), and soak in the surroundings of people’s lives in action. It’s the worst when you have someone look up at you with an elitist snarl on their face because you’ve interrupted their train of thought on some complex linear algebraic algorithm. Coffee shops aren’t libraries folks! Invest in some high quality noise-cancelling headphones or low quality ear plugs… problem solved!
Build rapport with the staff.
Chat it up. Get to know the baristas and owners. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be nice enough to upgrade your usual small coffee into a medium for free. Plus, if you get to know them, they won’t classify you as a leech unlike the uber geek in the back playing World of Warcraft leading an Onyxia raid. 50 dkp minus for you!
Look up and smile every now and then.
You probably don’t know it, but everyone emits certain vibes about themselves. It is more so apparent in coffee shop environments when it’s usually cramped up like a can of sardines. For me, I have to keep reminding myself to smile because usually I have this look on my face that I like to think is mysterious and dashing, but often gets mistaken as angry and creepy. Stupid face!
The goal is to make your environment more inviting so other customers can enjoy their stay as much as you are. You never know, someone hot might just want to sit next to you.
Support the establishment.
My local coffee shop has entertainment and exhibitions a couple times a month. Show up and support the local artist or bands. You don’t have to purchase anything or donate. Your face time and presence will be acknowledged and go a long way with the staff.
Don’t bring your entire office with you.
Like I mentioned in the On the Fringe of Frugality article, I once saw a guy plug in a fax machine at local coffee shop. What the eff? Just take the laptop, suitcase, book/newspaper and notepad. Shoot, that list can be minimized even further. You get the idea though.
Treat it like it’s your own home.
That means: Don’t write on the bathroom stalls or table tops. Dispose of your cigarette butts in its proper receptacle. Don’t spill liquid on the floor and NOT tell anyone. Don’t use all the half and half and leave the bottle empty so the next person has to deal with it. And lastly, don’t piss on the toilet seats (although you probably do this at home).
After reading this, you should be well on your way to becoming the ULTIMATE coffee shop barnacle. Do you do the whole coffee shop thing? Share with us your best coffee shop snob / barnacle stories.
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Photo Credit: UNR Photography