I didn’t mean for it to happen, honestly. My writer friends and I went over to B&N for coffee during our girls’ night out, and we behaved as usual, talking, laughing, enjoying being together. We were in the coffee shop (this is important–pay attention).
I went to get more coffee, and a gentleman in a red vest waiting next to me said, “You look like a nice lady. But you and your friends are laughing and talking so loudly that we can hear you in another part of the store (a few yards away). I don’t think you want all your business being heard. So please keep it down.”
I was stunned, as I always am when people lecture me in public (it happens a lot when you have an autistic child). I went back to the girls, related what was said, and we laughed (especially over the part about not wanting “our business” overheard; we were talking about WRITING). My only regret was that I had been too stunned to answer the man.
But I got my chance. The store closed, we went outside to leave, and I mistook someone else’s car for my friend’s (I am VERY bad at distinguishing cars; I go by color alone, pretty much, which isn’t helpful). Picture it happening in slow mo. I open a car door at the same time Ava Stone says, “No, no, that’s not my car,” at the same time that I hear a dog bark and realize that the car looks different. A man BOUNDS out of the other side of the car. It’s Red Vest Man (of course–who else would it be?) and he’s outraged. How DARE I try to get in his car?!!
As I stuttered my apologies, he began his lecture with, “First I ask you to keep it down and you ignore me . . .” And that’s when I went off. That’s when I said what I wanted to say before, “A coffee shop is NOT a library.”
When he sputtered that it was still courteous to be quiet while people were trying to read, I repeated, “We were in a coffee shop. NOT A LIBRARY.”
Then the girls joined in (I believe someone pointed out that if he wanted to read, he should BUY a freaking book and take it home), and he was outnumbered and he fled back into his car, where, by the way, his poor dog had been sitting for over two hours in 30 degree weather. Talk about discourteous!
But I digress. He didn’t know he’d hit one of my major pet peeves. I don’t mind people working or reading in a coffee shop. I used to do it myself. But I always understood that it was primarily a place where people go to socialize. There are already places designated for quiet reading. They’re called LIBRARIES. There are already places people go to work. They’re called OFFICES. Do NOT make me feel like a worm for socializing in a place designated for socializing!
Especially when the girls have my back.
Well, that’s one of MY pet peeves. Is it yours? Does it bother you that people sit for hours at B&N and read the books and then put them back on the shelf shopworn? That they expect everyone to speak in hushed whispers? Or that people use coffee shops as offices? Have you ever been shushed in public? How did you handle it?
Written by Sabrina Jeffries
Sabrina Jeffries is the NYT bestselling author of a whole bunch of historical romance novels for Pocket Books and Avon Books, as well as a caffeine addict, Third Culture Kid, chocoholic, and jigsaw puzzle aficionado. Before writing as SJ, she wrote 8 historicals as Deborah Martin (now being revised and re-released) and 3 contemporary paranormal romantic suspense novels as Deborah Nicholas. Her 24th SJ book, WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES, will be out in June, and her first revised Deborah Martin re-release, BY LOVE UNVEILED, is out now!
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