Metafilter occasionally sees advice to socially disconnected people to become regular customers
at cafes, bars, and restaurants and make themselves socially available that way.
To avoid living in my apartment, I spend a lot of time at Starbucks, which is the nearest cafe by a long shot and the only one within a reasonable drive from where I live. I know many regulars by face, but that's because they are the ones who use their laptops as boom boxes, or use the armchairs to sleep, or bring their children to sell candy, or proselytize. My Starbucks also hosts a lot of East Asian graduate students who come and hang out in groups of 8-10. I have never, ever had a conversation at Starbucks that didn't make me intensely uncomfortable. I used to go to Baltimore's One World Cafe on Tuesdays for their delicious half-price black bean burrito. I did it for months and months, smiled to the cashiers, and tipped as much as one can reasonably tip on a $6 purchase. Some servers openly loathed me, demanding that I hand over my driver's license until I paid up for the meal. I never did end up meeting anyone else there. Similarly, I also used to pay regular visits at a fantastic diner near there several times each month. I learned to recognize some of the servers, and that was about it.
I rarely drink (because I drive everywhere alone), and all my current local watering holes are loud and rowdy college bars. (Do. Not. Want.)
I've had interesting conversations before at a cafe in nearby Silver Spring, MD, which functioned as a kind of community center. It closed a couple of years ago. I've also enjoyed good conversation in cafes around Annapolis, MD, but my schedule doesn't often allow me to drive 40 miles each way for a cup of coffee.
- Are you a regular somewhere? What kind of place is it? How long have you been going?
- Do you approach others there? What do you say to them?
- Can you estimate how much your regular habit costs you weekly or monthly?
- Have you formed lasting relationships or found social opportunities as a consequence of your time spent there?