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There's a coffee shop I used to like to go to.

It was a great place to sit and do some writing. Enough people that you could be almost invisible if you wanted to, and all manner of books, magazines, and flyers from local causes, bands, and events that you could easily find yourself reading instead of writing.

After I'd been there for a while, though, something changed. A lot of the people I'd started to think of as "regulars" gradually stopped showing up. I guess the place had fallen out of fashion for whatever reason. For sure, some of the people who looked like students or grad students had simply finished that part of their life and moved on, but there wasn't really anybody replacing them. I wondered why for a long time.

The worst part of it was that most of the regulars who kept coming were the kind that you normally didn't have to worry about since, for lack of a better term, they'd been so diluted before. You didn't used to be able to hear Ranting Homeless Dude when he would start ranting and sobbing, because the noise of 50 other people covered it up and you could easily ignore it, and the manager or one of the more empowered baristas would eventually ask him to leave to make way for a paying customer.

It was also way more difficult for Neckbeard Creep to mess with people when there were a lot of regulars around. After seeing him in action a few times, it was obvious he was obnoxious, but harmless, and pretty clear that nobody else liked him either. It was a whole lot different when the place was empty, or mostly empty, and someone stumbled in off the street to sit and drink a cup of coffee and read a paper.

The staff didn't seem to do much about it but stand behind the counter and bitch among themselves. The manager was so busy with spreadsheets and supply chains and adjusting the aging equipment that I guess he probably didn't have time to be messing around with etiquette. Or maybe he figured that as long as Ranting Homeless Dude wasn't stealing too many sugar packets, it was better to not have the place look empty from the street, nevermind what they found when they came in.

In any case, the place slowly strangled itself though a combination of changing demographics, staff apathy, and competitors who weren't afraid of doing the needful. It's a shame, because I've spent an awful lot of time on E2 and would like to see it stick around.

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