It seemed like a normal Tuesday afternoon when three college friends gathered to chat and catch up at a local coffee shop, but tension bubbled under the surface as no one stepped up and volunteered to buy the single requisite beverage to stay in the commercial establishment.
“When Celeste texted suggesting we meet here, the question was immediately raised,” says Ellena Eshraghi. “It’s like, yeah, I want a place with indoor seating where we can talk, but I don’t want to pay table rent.”
For those with full-time jobs, table rent is an unofficial term for the cost of a drink or pastry from a business that’s sole purpose is providing drinks and pastries, such that three to five people can huddle around a corner table for two hours talking about television series and their peers.
“At this point, we’re all here, but no one’s made any moves toward the register,” says Kunal Rajesh. “I would bite the bullet, but I literally just had coffee at home, and I’m trying to do a zero-dollar Tuesday.”
The trio slowly draped their coats over seatbacks in a show of “just settling in,” each hoping another would cave or miraculously be in actual need of food or drink.
“Celeste should do it,” says Ellena. “She’s the one who decided on this bougie coffee shop.”
“I’m sorry for being a natural leader!” says Celeste O’Leary-Lee. “But clearly Ellena should pay. She’s secretly rich and claims to be a Democratic Socialist. Let’s see it in action.”
The friends maintained a standoff while dodging glares from the shop’s barista for several minutes before Celeste declared herself the mom of the group and went to purchase a small black coffee.
At press time, everyone agreed they would probably all go in on an artisanal doughnut and are currently all offering to Venmo if someone else pays.