Lifestyle: Perching etiquette

A guide to the rules you’ll need for a long cafè stay

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Katie Rice Jones (right) perched at Marin Coffee Roasters, San Anselmo. Drawing by Michael Feldman.

by Katie Rice Jones

As a writer, I am always on the lookout for the perfect place to “perch.” You know—a place where you can spend hours writing without the pressure of outstaying your welcome. One would think that my home office would make for the ideal spot, but frankly, I find it too darn distracting. That’s where the pitter-patter of little feet and the mounds of dirty laundry call to me like a fix to a junkie. So to get a decent day of writing in, I must leave the domicile in search of a coffee house with an amiable staff, good tables, comfortable chairs, strong coffee, ample outlets and reliable wireless.
In 2012, when I started writing my now-published book, Fashion Dues & Duen’ts; a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump, finding a cafè in Marin County that met that long list of requirements was a tall order. However, over the years since, there has been a sea change in cafè managers’ attitudes about perchers.

BEST PLACES IN MARIN FOR WRITERS TO PERCH:

  • The Coffee Roastery, San Anselmo
  • Marin Coffee Roasters, San Anselmo
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Northgate Mall, San Rafael
  • Taylor Maid Farms (inside Copperfield’s Books), San Rafael
  • Book Passage, Corte Madera

Places like Peet’s and Starbucks once charged for—or limited the amount of—time that you could stay and use their wireless connection. However, policies changed after cafès started tabulating what perchers spent in their establishments. Now many cafès, chain and local, roll out the red carpet for perchers, call us by name, remember how we take our coffee, provide us with unlimited wireless and let us to stay all day. However, there is a slight catch: You must obey the universal coffee house rules.

COFFEE HOUSE RULES:

  • Don’t bring in a coffee drink from another coffee house. Like, ever.
  • Don’t bring in your own food.
  • Don’t take a “four-top” table if there’s plenty of bar space or a “two-top” available.
  • Don’t frequent the same coffee house too often. Put your cafès on perch rotation.
  • Don’t talk loudly on your ringy.
  • Don’t have an obnoxious ringtone. Put your phone on vibrate.
  • Don’t ask other perchers or staff to watch your stuff when you walk away to use the facilities.
  • Don’t watch videos or listen to music without a headset.
  • Don’t order stinky food in a crowded cafe.
  • Don’t leave your laptop or ringy unattended. Trust me, they will get pinched.
  • Don’t view nefarious content when among cafè patrons.
  • Don’t hog the outlet.
  • Don’t leave your table a mess. Clean up after yourself.

And most importantly …

  • Don’t use the cafè’s wireless connection or table without buying something. Your usage fee is a cup of coffee and/or a bit of food. Cafès are in the business of doing business, after all.
    There’s no doubt that cafès have their own sets of distractions, but since you likely have no emotional connection to their noise, you can simply drown it out. If you can’t, try the Mill Valley Public Library.

Katie Rice Jones is the Pacific Sun’s lifestyle editor-at-large, a Marin-based style expert and author of the maternity fashion book ‘Fashion Dues & Duen’ts; a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump’ (Know Act Be Books, 2014). Available now at Amazon.com. Learn more at FashionDues.com.

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