Ah, what is a freelancer to do about love, given all the working from home alone in a state of barely dressed disarray he or she tends to do—meaning that said freelancer doesn't see anyone other than, maybe, a food delivery person or his or her own cat, on a regular basis? The New York Post sheds a ray of romantic light onto the particular relationship troubles of that set of independently employed individuals you may know. The answer is coffee. (The key for large portions of us, in fairness, is coffee.)
Dvora Meyers writes in the Post's expose on how freelancers are meeting at coffee shops nowadays, "Welcome to the 'coffice' [Ed: Cough] romance — which is just like an office romance but without cubicles, water coolers and health insurance. It’s the sort of quasi-workplace flirtation and romance that takes place in a freelancer’s office away from the office — at the local cafe."
Hear that, people? People (people like you and me, except, perhaps, without health insurance or standardized workplace cubicles, as Meyers stipulates above) are meeting in local coffeeshops and flirting and sometimes, eventually dating! (Meaning maybe romance?) Old-school, no? Meyers includes anecdotes to prove that this is an actual thing happening now: A freelance writer called Rachel was approached by a young fellow in her local cafe. Suavely, he asked her about the book she was reading. A conversation was struck up; the two ended up going to a bar. Coffee Romance ensued.
But this is not unusual. See, the thing is, coffee shops are often full of a) coffee b) tea c) people who might be freelancers d) all of the above. And those freelancers are not just robots, nope, they need love, too, not to mention companionship, as they "write their blog posts and design their Web sites" on their mini robot computers. Humans are humans, that is to say, social creatures, and simply because not all humans clock into midtown skyscrapers or super-cool Soho loft spaces to be surrounded by their coworker buddies daily doesn't mean they don't feel things deeply. Should anyone begrudge freelancers love, simply because they lack a community of coworkers? Of course not. Thus, coffee shops are doing a great service to us all (along with providing us with caffeine, thank you, God) and all of us, employed traditionally or not, should thank our baristas and probably write a nice letter to our local cafe.
After all, things do seem pretty dreamy down at the old coffice: "For many of these freelance worker bees, these shops aren’t just about caffeine, peace and quiet, and free Wi-Fi. They’re also social climates where these otherwise isolated workers fraternize with others, often becoming each other’s 'co-workers' — bonding over piping hot cups of joe rather than hot gossip around the office water cooler." And sometimes, also, there's Coffee Romance.
Why is Coffee Romance more likely than regular romance, sans coffee, out of the coffice? There are infinite openings for conversation at the coffice. People's defenses are lower because it's not like it's a bar—nay, it's a coffice! There's a whole world of possibility far beyond the pre-screened and drug-tested extremely neurotic (no offense) coworkers at your fancy-schmancy law firm. Anything goes at the coffice: Artists and bloggers and chefs and angry professional cheerleaders with broken home Internet who are angry at first but once you talk to them a bit will warm up, we are certain. Who knows who you'll meet? You can, says one Coffee Romance expert, ask someone who strikes your fancy "if their Wi-Fi is slow." You can comment on someone else's laptop screen art. You can ask to plug into someone else's outlet, and just take it from there. You can say out of the corner of your mouth, "I think I love you," and then, when whomever it is turns around with a horrified expression, pretend to be entranced completely in your work. It's busy times at the coffice, where a little informal gaslighting never hurt anyone. The coffice world is your pumpkin spiced latte, but if someone's drinking one of those, you may want to think twice before borrowing her iPhone charger, mostly because those drinks tend to be a little sticky.
Another great benefit of the Coffee Shop Meet Cute (CSMC), explains Meyers, is that you don't even have to go anywhere else for your date: "a flirtation can go on for hours, stopping and starting as the freelancer takes breaks from his or her day’s work," but then, you also can leave if you want to take it to the next level and maybe even go to dinner. It's a committed freelancer' afternoon. And since people are often regulars, no worries if you're shy, you might be able to work up the nerve the next day, when he or she is still there, at the coffeeshop, because all freelancers ever do is go to the coffeeshop—in a year, maybe you'll speak, and that's cool, it's all cool, unless it's hot, in which case...don't drink it too fast you'll burn your tongue.
One thing seems indisputably true about the Coffee Romance. It may be, indeed, better than a dalliance with someone you must see in the office the next day. After all, when things get awkward, as they do, one can always go to another coffeeshop, especially following a bad date or even a real relationship. One may not, however, simply quit one's job after things with Garry (yes, two rs) in ad sales go awry—or at least, one should not, not in this job market. But if employed people rack their brains, perhaps they'll think of other places people might flirt and meet and date outside of the coffice. Funeral parlors, maybe? The hospital? At the DMV? Outside of that taxidermy place? What, it closed? Dating is so hard.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.