Friday, December 09, 2005

An UES coffee-shop rant - about some visitors, not the coffee

I love hanging out at the coffee shop and lounge DTUT - on Second Avenue near 85th - whenever I'm on the Upper East Side and have some time and some reading material. It's got a cozy backroom and good drinks (of the caffeinated and alcoholic variety) as well as delicious, though rich, snacks like s'mores-filled Rice Krispie treats and Snicker brownies. It's a popular place to hang out and spend a good hour or two. Therein lies its charm as well as its potential for problems.

As I was sitting down this evening with a mocha and the aforementioned brownie, I noticed one of the guys-from-behind-the-counter (known as baristas in other parts) kicking a group of kids out of the backroom. I later sat down on the couch that they vacated. I read the Times in peace for a while, and when a couple needed some space to put their fondue setup, I moved the coffee table over to accommodate them.

Eventually, a pack of about six or seven kids arrives - mostly guys with a couple of girls, youngish, probably high school - but the kind of kids who live in Manhattan and are thus prone to assume they are infinitely cooler and hipper than kids elsewhere. (I know a lot of us here suffer from this tendency once in a while - please forgive us.) Anyway, one guy sits down on the couch, and then another guy does - practically on top of me. Now I hadn't been taking up too much room, but this kid acted as if I didn't even exist. As if the couch had been empty 45 minutes ago, and he had no reason to believe that anyone had occupied it since. Thus: invisible me.

As if it weren't bad enough that he was sitting closer to me than most rush-hour 6-train riders do to each other, onto my bag he plops his own bag, which proceeds to slide onto my lap. I don't know whether this scruffy, uber-hip kid was on something or what, but he must've taken a good two or three seconds to realize what had happened - that he'd basically sat on top of me. I probably could've yelled at him, but I resisted and attempted to let the situation reveal itself to him.

He starts apologizing half-heartedly and I look back at my paper for a moment, before gathering my things to go. I tell the group, "I was done anyway, I'm going to go." Then Couch Boy says something like, "I feel like we're kicking you out." In my mind, I think, "That's exactly what you're doing." But I stay quiet for a moment, and then finally take my chance to say, in as cordial a manner as possible, "A little hint: Next time, ask before sitting down like that."

I'm sometimes accused of being inconsiderate (although not in that particular way), so I guess it's good for me to experience such crappy behavior now and then to make me realize how awful it is to be on the receiving end of things. But gosh, are manners dead?

Still, I like the coffee shop enough that I don't plan on boycotting or anything. I'll just keep a keener eye out for roving packs of kids who think it's their living room - and theirs alone.

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