My $34 Latte: A Failed Attempt at Free Alone Time

January 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm 33 comments

I set out on a coffee shop excursion this afternoon around 2pm. I decided on a nearby Dunn Bros. for 3 reasons:

1. Free coupon for any size drink.
2. Good atmosphere.
3. Free parking.

Concerning #1: I stepped up to the counter and ordered my large chai tea latte (not a coffee drinker, friends) and headed upstairs to experience reason #2.

Concerning #2: I did my best to focus in a room of strangers, most of whom were talking loudly about their drunken escapades (and who were too old to be having so many drunken escapades, if you ask me). The people watcher in me is totally overstimulated in a coffee shop—can’t turn my gawk off.

I looked at my watch—wow, that 90 minutes went fast! Did I accomplish anything? Got my coat, packed up my laptop, walked to the door only to see…

the dreaded parking authority driving away from my car!!

Concerning #3: there is a free parking lot at this particular coffee shop, but of course when I arrived all the spaces were taken, but I thought, “No problem, I actually brought a handful of quarters.” I was prepared for a successful afternoon.

I was literally two minutes late. I mean, it’s not their fault. I was late.

But this experience only confirms to me why I just stay home, folks. Here are my reasons for staying home:

1. I’ve already paid for all the drinks at my house and am no longer thinking about it, so they are, therefore, free.
2. The atmosphere is just as distracting as anywhere else, except I’m distracted by kids and tasks that I need to do, instead of other peoples’ post-inebriated conversations.
3. Free parking.



Entry filed under: Life, Spoutings.

Peace Like a River Winners! Countdown to Spring, Minnesota-style

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stacey swanson  |  January 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm


  • 2. Liz Holst  |  January 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Oh Molly!! I am sorry! That used to be one of my biggest frustrations at that particular Dunn Bros. Loved the coffee shop: HATED the parking situation.

    Hope the chai was at least a tasty drink! 🙂

  • 3. schindelfam6  |  January 20, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    That is hillarious!

  • 4. citystreams  |  January 20, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Oh no! You can get free stories about inebriated escapades for free too – look no further than the internets.

  • 5. schindelfam6  |  January 20, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    oops…i can spell.

  • 6. Kelly  |  January 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Oh, that’s too bad, but your summary of the situation is hilarious.

    I am the same way when I’m out alone…I can’t stop people-watching!!

  • 7. Sean  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    In that case, since the parking is paid, go back in for a second round.

    Frustrating though to say the least.

  • 8. Allie  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Then there is the walk of shame. Walking up to your car and discreetly taking the ticket and sliding it out of public spectacle, hoping that no one noticed your parking blunder. At least that’s what I would have done.

  • 9. Angie  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:07 pm


    My hubby has a space in a lot at his office building that no one else can use. One day he looked out his window and thought, “Hey, they’re towing my car out of my space.” So he ran down to the lot, caught the tow truck driver and asked what was up. He had parked in the wrong space… the one NEXT to his space. So he had to run to the ATM machine and get $50 to pay the tow truck driver.

    I tell him he should bike to work. 🙂

  • 10. Melissa Parnell  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    oh, that completely stinks! i’m such a people watcher too. except I don’t think I am that good at discretely listening to them.

  • 11. Otto Mann  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This is the reason I’m a homebody.

    Well, ONE of the reasons.

    Sorry you had a tough day. :-\

  • 12. Jessie  |  January 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Often I’ll think how seriously CRAZY it is for me to buy $3 hot cocoa, or $4 lattes, when I have mounds of delicious tea, coffee, cider and the works at home and gladly offer them up when we have visitors around! I understand what you mean about having all you need at home, and it — in a way — feeling “free.” Thanks for the encouragement, actually.

  • 13. Rachel  |  January 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Two minutes?! I guess the “parking authority” doesn’t know the meaning of a grace period. Sheesh.

  • 14. Chris  |  January 21, 2009 at 12:32 am

    My wife and her friend took a day trip to Berkeley a while back so they could visit a really cool fabric shop.

    There are no meters, but there are signs (hard to see) telling you to walk over to some machine and pay for a parking permit. They missed the sign, and came out to a $30 ticket.

    Got in the car and drove over to have lunch at some place she had heard of and always wanted to try. Parked again, still not understanding the hidden meter policy and thinking they had just parked in the wrong place the last time.

    They came out from lunch to another $30 ticket.

    We won’t be going to Berkeley again soon. Or ever, I hope.

  • 15. Chris  |  January 21, 2009 at 5:21 am

    I’ve been there. One day we had a lot of appointments. I dropped Cherith off at the hair salon and then, disappointed that I had to give up my wonderful parking space that I didn’t have to parallel park to get into, I ran Malachi down to church for his internship. When I got back to the hair salon, I was delighted to find another space that I could just pull into.

    Alas, in my haste to get inside and finish some paperwork while I waited for Cherith, I had parked too far away from the curb–
    2 feet and 2 inches! I can’t imagine, but they do get out the tape measure and check in this little boro, so it must be true.

    Whenever we drive down Bridge Street, the others in the car help me relive that day…

  • 16. Andrea  |  January 21, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Thanks for the good laugh Molly!

  • 17. Gina  |  January 21, 2009 at 8:17 am

    well said, molly. and a bit amusing, too. i think i’ve had similar expereinces!

  • 18. rachel  |  January 21, 2009 at 8:19 am

    haah! Well, if I was you I’d try somewhere more chain-commercial like Panera, there are many options there, the parking is always free, and you can get a quiet corner. But to be truthful, I’d really only truly enjoy it if I was with a friend.

  • 19. stacey swanson  |  January 21, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Love you hair in the new pic……….I am so mad I cut mine. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    Abraham is going to need a ponytail holder soon

  • 20. Crystal  |  January 21, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I have to laugh, too, only because this totally sounds like something that would happen to me.

    And I love this: “can’t turn my gawk off”

    It totally describes me.

  • 21. Christiana  |  January 21, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for enlightening me! I never understood why everyone finds coffee shops so relaxing and I don’t. It’s because I’m also a people watcher. Now I know.

  • 22. Stephen  |  January 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    What a bummer. Like me going in to a bookstore to use a $25 gift card and coming out with $50 of books more than the GC was for, so the “free gift” I was using ends up costing me $50. (I am a book junkie.)

  • 23. Demian Farnworth  |  January 21, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Excellent takeaways. Those are three reasons I’m the homebody. My wife will work away from the house…among people…so she can work alone.

    Which I find interesting: you went to a coffee house to be alone?

  • 24. carissa  |  January 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    aww, bummer. don’t be afraid to try again, though! i can’t wait until it’s warm enough to walk places again. it’s so liberating not to have to park.

  • 25. Karen  |  January 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Don’t you wonder if all of those details were a “set-up” from the Lord? 🙂
    I have wondered, when things like that have happened to me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your “adventure”!

  • 26. Nikki  |  January 21, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I can totally identify with you! I went out one morning last week — against my better judgment — because I felt like I just HAD to get out of the house. And what do I do? Forget to slow down in a school zone on the way home because the kiddos in the back of the car were asking me a question, and i was paying more attention to them than to the road. One $200 ticket later… Ugh! 🙂

  • 27. danielle  |  January 22, 2009 at 9:23 am

    i’m going to encourage you to keep getting out…go out…do things…be with people, even if only to gawk.

  • 28. Kassie Phillips  |  January 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

    At least you got a good blog post out of the deal… 🙂

  • 29. Shannon  |  January 22, 2009 at 11:42 am

    oh, stink! Two minutes?! What about grace and mercy, people?

  • 30. jennapants  |  January 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    i go out to gawk. i love it. i go to somalian starbucks just to hear the cacophony of deep african voices.


    i love the new profile picture! (way to go, danielle!!!!)

  • 31. Matt Hall  |  January 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I am the worst people watcher.

    It was actually a regular assignment when I was taking theatre classes. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ease drop on people and turn their conversation into a scene.

    Unfortunately it has turned into a habit and I have to work to listen to my friends at dinner and not look over their shoulder.

  • 32. Kelly @ Love Well  |  January 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Preach the WORD, sister. That is EXACTLY what happens to me. I always think, “Why did I just spend money for this?”

  • 33. Shannon  |  January 28, 2009 at 12:44 am

    That’s just aweful! I can’t concentrate in coffee shops too well either.

    (P.S. I’ve been lurking for a while and finally commenting. My husband is a pastor in Houston, TX)


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