January 7

An Introvert’s Open Letter to the Loudmouth at the Coffee Shop

It’s that time again. About once every few days, I fall prey to the assumption that coffee shops are a great place to work.

Note to self: they’re not.

Second note to self: remember that quote about how insanity is basically doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?

So, really, it’s my fault. My fault for being here.

Or perhaps, it isn’t. Perhaps people can be expected to use their “inside” voice when they’re… well… inside.

Even over-caffeinated American entrepreneurs.

Because the bitter truth is this:

dear loudmouth, your conversation really isn’t as interesting as you think it is.

I’m glad your Instagram is doing so well.

That’s…wonderful (even though I personally think that Instagram is the devil’s spawn, but I guess it’s a matter of personal taste).

It’s just that…I really don’t care.

And, speaking of the devil, I’m reminded of how the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre put it in one of his plays:

“Hell is other people.”

Granted, this was referring to the afterlife where people torture each other (is nobody concerned about the infernal mass unemployment that would cause?), not to Mr. Megaphone in the coffee shop but still, I like to think that Sartre would agree with me here.

So, dear loudmouth, I’d appreciate it if you could turn down your volume.

Not much.

Just enough that I’m not forced to listen to every.darn.word.of.yours, even while sitting on opposing ends of the room, wearing earplugs.

You see, coffee shops are a basic necessity for some of us. For instance, as Bryan Cogman put it:

“I tend to work in coffee shops. I need to get out of the house, and, well, I need the coffee.”

Please don’t deprive others of the pleasure of this by projecting your voice as if you were in an auditorium. You’re wearing a headset. Modern communication methods are designed to transmit your voice to someone far away from you without you needing to yell at them (I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it?).

What I’m trying to say is this: the person you’re talking to can hear you just fine if you speak in a normal voice.

And, the people you’re not talking to can ignore you better, too, if you use your inside voice.

(Yes, it may be hard to shocking to hear but there are people who would like to ignore you.)

Granted, some people in coffee shops like to listen to conversations. Cue Christina Baker Kline:

“I often work and write in coffee shops, observing the baristas and eavesdropping on interesting conversations.”

Dear loudmouth, let me highlight two words for you: “eavesdropping” and “interesting.” It’s impossible to eavesdrop on what you’re saying when you’re yelling around, and, well, your conversation is not exactly interesting.

Which is like THE cardinal coffee shop sin.


an exasperated introvert (who probably should steer clear of coffee shops in the future)


You may also like

Find your authentic superpower