Consequently, I'm a regular at the coffee shop. It's not always an easy space to work. It's a popular enough spot with certain crowds that there's no guarantee of finding a table -- and sometimes the noise isn't conducive to reading. I see lots of grad students with their laptops open, flicking between PDFs and Pandora, trying, trying, trying to work.
This shop has three sections of seating: the front of the store (by the counter) has long tables and window seats; the middle of the store is the café floor; and the back section is all bookshop with small tables set in nooks of shelving. Each section has its Regulars. I spend most of my time up front, but once in a while I end up in the café section.
The Regulars all come here under the pretense of doing work, but in reality we're all hoping to be seen by someone (anyone). It's the easiest social scene ever: low-impact, high visibility, community-targeted. Sooner or later you'll have to talk to someone. And really you have no choice but to overhear other people's conversations. But you're a Regular, so it's okay.
It must have been a couple of weeks ago, sitting in the café section, when I heard two women talking about the Regulars. The first had clearly been here before -- maybe she's a Proto-Regular. The second, it seemed, was not quite familiar with the place-culture. Their exchange went like this:
[awkward silence]Classic. And funny because it's true.
First woman: I love the way people dress here.
Second woman: How so?
First woman: Skinny jeans and scarves. Hipsters.
[awkward silence as First woman looks around to determine whether anyone heard her]