Corner Bakery Café
Billy Joel had it right: it’s always been a matter of trust.
A strange little coffee shop that is, or was once, a restaurant. This place serves the typical coffees and latte espresso drinks, but it also offers a choice of real food, not just the token pastries. I ordered my sandwich and soup at the counter like I’m at fast food restaurant, but the staff delivers it to your table or booth. This place has booths. They look comfy, red leather-ish, but I’m at a four-person table. There’re just a few other people in here, so I don’t feel guilty taking up the room. I see the employees bussing other tables, a strange mix of customer service.
The guy behind me is the only other business-y person here. I know he’s a “professional” because he’s been on his cell phone since he arrived. I’ve refilled my coffee twice; he hasn’t stood up yet. Doesn’t he have to use the bathroom?
“My wife can tell you better….”
He’s got a small briefcase at his side with a thick black leather day planner of sorts. He wears a blue button-down shirt. A bag of chips with his sandwich, not baby carrots. An iced drink not hot, and a tablet-type laptop he’s working on.
“I’m a relationship guy myself….” I overhear.
I can tell that.
He finally hangs up his phone and walks away, leaving all of his stuff on the chair. He’s not careless; he’s natural.
There’s an unwritten code of trust in coffee shops—don’t touch other peoples’ stuff. It never crosses my mind to do anything like that. I guess he feels the same way. It’s also echo-y empty in here now, safety in no numbers. Regardless of how many people are in a room, I, leave my computer and my bags open while I stand, stretch or go to the restroom. I recently started putting my laptop monitor to sleep when I step away. Not that I’m writing secret recipes of potato chips, but I feel protective of my writing these days.
Being casual with my stuff does not mean stupid. I always carry my purse and cell phone when I walk out of site. My purse holds the important things in my life: car keys, wallet, Office Guys, writing journal and lip balm. After that, everything else is replaceable. Losing my current writing drafts, my photos, and those expensive power supply plugs would suck–especially since I haven’t backed up my work in months–but I don’t need to pack up and carry all my stuff when I walk 10 feet away.
I learned the potential danger of having my purse out of site years ago while grocery shopping in New Jersey. I was digging through a pile of apples when this guy walks up behind me. “You shouldn’t leave your purse unattended in your shopping cart,” he said, startling me. “Anyone could walk off with it.” Like he could have, I thought. I thanked him for that advice and continued shopping with my purse on my shoulder. Because of that, I always carry my driver’s license and credit cards close to me. My laptop and pens are worth money, but they’re really only valuable to me.
Is it because laptops are so cheap these days?
No, there’s just this hands-off vibe, this respect for other patrons. Haven’t found it in any other stores, food places or restaurants. Just coffee shops.
Is it the clientele? Does the cost of drinking expensive coffee give you higher morals? Are people too wrapped up in themselves, like Cell Phone Guy behind me? Maybe we’re all too intense on working that few can’t be bothered with thievery?
Is it the neighborhoods which coffee shops live in that breed safety? Even in a questionable strip mall like this one, where the coffee shop is on an exposed corner next to a European wax salon and a chain Mexican restaurant, I feel secure.
Is it exclusivity? Remember, this coffee costs money. People like Mr. Cell Phone can afford it. Even me, a freelance writer, I splurge for the luxury of space to write.
Is it chain store vs. Shop Local mentality? I would never leave my valuables in some McFastfood joint, for example, but I’m not threatened in coffee shops whether it’s an independent store, a local chain or a big name chain. I have no paranoid delusions, no sense that somebody’s watching me. There’s just something about the atmosphere, the expectation.