I. am. old.


So I live down the street from an all-girls Catholic school. Back 20 years ago, this surely would have excited me.

In 2010, it annoys the hell out of me.

There are two spots within walking distance of my house where I like to write. One is Starbucks, the other is Cosi. Starbucks is ideal, because I have a gift card with a gazillion bucks on it, the manager is a friend and the big window up front lets in a ton of light. They also boast the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I love this time of year. Cosi—not as good, but solid. Nice staff, one excellent table by the front (if you get here early, it’s yours. I’m here early. It’s mine). The music absolutely, positively sucks (Yanni-esque jazz bullshit), but, hey, nothing’s perfect.

Anyhow, school started last week, which means my two joints are now overrun by the annoying, loud, messy, inconsiderate girls of St. Francis Academy. They scream about Justin Bieber (He. Must. Die.), increase their already raging hormonal boost with XXL coffee drinks, leave their shit everywhere. I’d be annoyed were I simply kicking back. But with a book due, well, I ain’t happy.

I actually took the ultimate Grandpa Pearlman step a few days ago, firing off an e-mail to the headmaster about her minions. This is what I wrote:

Ms. Davis:

My name is Jeff Pearlman. I’m a local resident who writes books for a living. The majority of my time is spent in the Cosi on Smythe Road and the Starbucks nearest to your campus.

Another school year has started, and already your students are driving people crazy in these establishments. I can deal with the loudness—teenagers are loud. I was. But what always jars me is the lack of decency and empathy. The vast majority of employees in these establishments make minimum wage … and all they wind up doing is cleaning up the garbage left behind by your students. It’s a guaranteed fall ritual, right there with the leaves following. The St. Francis girls show up, are incredibly loud, order sodas and coffee and such—then leave a complete and total mess for the employees (and customers) to clean.

Anyhow, I know you have a nice school. But, if you have a welcome-to-a-new-year assembly, it might be a worthy point to bring up. The community would be greatly appreciative, I assure you.


Jeff Pearlman

OK, I’ll admit—pathetic. And old. And lame. But they’re killing me … just killing me.

PS: She responded with an enormous FUCK YOU. Her reply: “Thank you for notifying me.”

10 thoughts on “I. am. old.”

  1. Non-snarky suggestion, which you may have covered in a previous post: ever considered working at a library? It’s quiet and there generally won’t be any people there doing things that piss you off. AND, you will getting some return off your tax dollars.

    Also, I don’t see why the girls’ behavior in Starbucks is any business of the headmaster. Of the girls’ parents and the proprietor of the Starbucks, yes. But the headmaster, no.

  2. You: preacher Me: choir. You had the right tone in your e-mail and can’t think of any other way to handle it. Confronting the girls in person would probably not be a good idea.

  3. ever consider a home office? I guess there are some romantic notions about writing at a coffee shop, but I can’t imagine a less conducive environment for writing.

    And a Starbucks down the street from a school is de facto a teenager hangout. You have no right to complain.

  4. You did the right thing. I’m 45 and had to go grandfather on a pack of middle schoolers walking down my sidewalk, next to my house dropping f-bombs very in screaming tones. My house is where grade schooler and middle schoolers live and many kids are around. They were shocked that I called them out, they got about two blocks away, and started their f-bombs again, making SURE I heard them from a distance. They’ve been by over and over since then, and they’ve acted like the same dumb, awkward tweens that they are, but so, far, they got the message. Bully for you.

  5. @James- I totally agree. I’m saying this for maybe the 100th time, but Cosi and Starbucks are not your office space. You can rent office space, work from home, go to the library. Yes, these children should clean up after themselves. Not the headmaster’s job.
    I’m old, too. I have gone head to head with little brats on the playground (pre-teen boys who walk there unchaperoned) who climb to the highest point of the playground equipment to then pelt the little kids with handfuls of rocks (it is a gravel surface). Nice. So, Nark on, Jeff. But, get your own office space.

  6. @JamesK: I went to an all boy catholic HS. If my headmaster had gotten a note like that from the customer of a nearby establishment, my headmaster would be *there*, the next morning, writing out suspension slips. Disgrace your school, in or out of it, get punished. Period.

    As for all the ones grousing to Jeff about getting a real office…if he were complaining about the noise, you’d have a point. But he was specific to say he was NOT complaining about the noise.

  7. @FrankD — yes, he did complain about the noise. He claims not to be bothered by the noise, but he is. His letter to the headmaster of St. Francis says “The St. Francis girls show up, are incredibly loud,…” And, if you follow Jeff’s blog, you know that he routinely bitches about the patrons of Cosi and Starbucks for talking on their cell phones while he is trying to work. Yes, that is rude behavior. I can’t decide which I find more annoying — people who talk on cell phones in stores and restaurants or people who set up their “virtual offices” in coffee shops.

  8. Many coffee shops are beginning to drop their WIFI access because of the patrons that camp out there.
    Ruins it for those than just stop for a cup of Java and a check of the email.
    Jeff, find another place to work.

    Discipline today is gone. Both parents work and many expect the baby sitter and the school to raise their children.
    It is overwhelming the schools. Budgets are cut and many find they must pick their battles. Yours isn’t high on the list.

    If the coffee shop has an issue they can establish the guidelines.
    Ever seen one of those “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” signs?
    They choose to let them in.

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