Overheard at The Coffee Shop

For three months now I’ve been blogging at different coffee shops almost every day of the week. Most times I’m head down paying attention to my own stuff, but every now and then I get bored and “accidentally” listen to what others are discussing around me ;)

I wouldn’t call it eaves-dropping necessarily because people are so loud!, but I also don’t go out of my way to put on my ear phones all the time either… And perhaps, just perhaps, I may even pretend to be listening to music when in truth I’m following along your weirdo lives and jotting down some notes for a future blog post.

Okay, so I guess that is eaves dropping :)

Anyways, today I thought I’d share some of these findings I’ve so sleuthly recorded over the months to give you an inside scoop on what people are really talking about in the middle of the work day instead of, *ahem*, working. Maybe I’ve caught one of your own conversations?

And for your own sanity, I’ve sorted through all the drivel and only included the money-related gems for your enjoyment… Though I’m now thinking of starting NonsensePeopleTalkAboutAtCoffeeShops.com too – you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people regurgitate to each other! I often times need to take a quick shower afterwards, haha…

Here’s stuff I’ve overheard recently:

“You need to be selling more to the 14 year olds”


“Saying you believe in God vs. having a relationship with him is like paying me to be your friend. I’ll sit here and listen to you but you won’t be getting anything out of it”

Haha… I had to stop from spitting out my coffee on this one :) And even funnier was the fact this conversation happened at the *same* table the line above w/the 14  year olds occurred, only 30 minutes later. Talk about a difference in conversation topic!

“Wet suits cost over $100, and bikinis a lot too, yet cover hardly anything?”

Hah! So true! :)

“I haven’t launched my dream business because of my girlfriend”

Long story short, this guy put his business on pause to marry his girlfriend so he could be more stable, but it’s now been over a year and they’re still not married. Nor engaged, from what I could gather (he got kinda quiet so was hard for me to hear at times ;)). I was trying to make out what type of business he wanted to do,  and by the end I came away thinking it had something to do with the mountains and the outdoors – like maybe giving group tours?

“She’s working at a coffee shop instead of using her degree”

Ouch! This was said by a wealthier looking woman talking about her very own 20-something daughter. She went on to say she’s “so much smarter than that” and needs to be doing something more in her field of art… A half an hour the women of the group went to go play tennis and the men of the group golf. Which was what led me to believe they were wealthy – who does that in the middle of the week?

“You only need to sell 120 of them to get your 20%”

I was trying to figure out *what* it was they were trying to sell, then later in the conversation I heard “book fair” and “cheesecakes.” Seem to go pretty well together, eh? (Though what  happens if you only sell 119 of them? 0%?)

“My rates are $200/hour if we have to go back and forth. But if she accepts right away it’s only $500.”

This one was a sad one – all about divorce :( I literally had to blast the music in my years every now and then just to force myself to stop listening… This guy loved his wife and his kids so much but for whatever reason they were splitting up and his attorney needed to ask him 1,001 questions which just deflated him even more as time went on…  And for $200 an hour I’m sure it stung even more!

Here were other snippets by his attorney to give you an idea of how miserable it all sounded:

“If you guys get sentimental and end up hooking up, it doesn’t start the clock over”
“You don’t want to be paying $25 for the rest of your life to her.”
“The thing saving you is not having kids in daycare. I have clients that use up all their paychecks for child support mainly due to daycare”
“You should probably pay that off now before we present this agreement to her”

And this was the kicker, and when I tuned out completely: “Also, turns out I have cancer but should be gone now…” Ugh, poor guy.

And here’s what people have said to ME while sitting there “minding my own business” ;)

“All you do is write and drink coffee?”

On me being a self-employed blogger, of course… Yup, that’s all I do!

“Do you want to buy my CD?”

No, haha… I probably would have if I was approached differently and learned more about this guy’s back story (it was a self-produced album that looked religiousy?), but he was going table to table trying to hawk it without even a smile on  his face so I was turned off before I could even get interested…

“Can my friend practice her pitch on you for her charity?”

This was by two complete strangers but incredibly fascinating because 1) I’ve ran a charity before and I’m very familiar with how that game goes!, and 2) It was on the same Friday I wrote the post on how no one can ever take things way from you that you’ve accomplished. Which specifically mentioned that same charity of Love Drop – what timing!

I told her she needed to get her *story* across as simply and easily as she could – because that’s what’s going to connect with the person on the other end, not necessarily what the charity is doing. I asked her to re-pitch me including her story in it, and 30 seconds later we both had tears in our eyes! It was amazing!! So hopefully she re-works it into her organization to affect a LOT more people.

And that ends this round of coffee shop confessions! If you liked it, maybe we’ll do it again sometime… There’s never any shortage of juicy convos going around town, I’ll tell you that much.

Happy weekend, peeps… Be careful of what you’re saying out there ;)

PS: On another financially-related note, it’s pretty interesting how drastic the prices for coffee are across the different shops too. I can order roughly the same thing (“large coffee with cream”) and it’ll cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 a cup, then $0.00 to $3.50 for a refill. With the most expensive places being the mom and pop shops, and the cheaper (less-potent) coffees coming from the chain stores. At the end of the day though what you’re really paying for is the atmosphere of it all.  I don’t go out of my way to pay for coffee when I can drink it for free at home, but I do go out to be around people and grab that free wifi. So a small price to pay for an extended work office in my opinion.

[“Coffee Addict” pic by dadevoti]

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  1. Chris @ Flipping a Dollar October 10, 2014 at 6:29 AM

    These are awesome and depressing (the 20 year old daughter and divorce one come to mind). I would love it if you kept these up every few months! I had one where a worker was talking with a customer about how expensive all the new toys and new clothes were for her son. Must be hard trying to pay for all of that.

    I also worked at a Dunkin in high school with some of my best friends of the time and my gf (now wife). This was my favorite job to date! And boy do I have some stories…

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Well don’t keep them inside, brotha – share them! :)

  2. Mrs. Frugalwoods October 10, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    Mr. FW and I were once seated next to a couple on a first date that was going abysmally. We tried realllllllly hard to carry on our own conversation, but we finally had to just pretend to talk while we listened. It was epic.

    I’m sure people think we’re total weirdos when they overhear our conversations. I imagine it sounds like “greyhound… Frugalwoods… percentages… cheap… greyhound… free… found it in the trash… greyhound… hiking… woods… beard… greyhound.” Oh yeah.

    Have you found some coffee shops to be better for, uh, eaves-dropping than others? You could create a chart and/or graph.

    1. Hannah October 10, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      It could have been me! Actually probably not due to location, but I never had a first date in a coffee shop go well, and I had way too many to even count (going to a Christian background school in the South will lead to more coffee dates than any other kind). I would always go to my close friend’s apartment afterwards and have “therapy” and rehash the whole thing. Ahh, I was so awkward! You would have thought word would get around that I was horrible date and nobody should ask me, but alas, it did not.

      Come to think of it, my husband and I have only once been to a coffee shop together, and that was when we found ourselves three miles from home in 0 degree weather in Minneapolis and needed to figure out if we could catch a bus home.

    2. Jay @ ThinkingWealthy October 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      My fiance and I do this all the time. Sometimes it’s fascinating to hear… well, dumb people debate things!

    3. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Haha… that’s a good idea actually Mrs. F’Woods – I’m totally gonna graph it out with some poster board and sharpies. Possibly even while AT the coffee shops while I stare at people while listening :)

  3. Anne @ Money Propeller October 10, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Interesting list. You’ve piqued my interest with the charity bit. What a random and fun experience.

  4. Christa@objectwealth October 10, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    Omg, I love this post! I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one of those people that pretend to listen to music while I am really eavesdrop.

    One of the conversations that I heard not too long ago was “my wife cashed in some of her 401k and bought her mom a Cadillac. I would have been fine with it, but she didn’t even tell me first.”

    My first thought: What was she thinking?!?? My second thought: was he just as crazy if he would have been fine with it

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      YEAH! WTF? Haha… that’s a juicy one right there for sure :)

  5. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life October 10, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I hope this becomes a regular series- love it.

    I find I’m much more productive in coffee shops (even when I take breaks eavesdropping ;) ). But my favorite thing to get at my favorite local shop is a dirty chai latte and it’s $5!! Still not a bad price to pay for a work space I guess.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      Had to google what “dirty” meant in the latte world, and came across this site: http://hackthemenu.com – pretty neat!

  6. Brittany October 10, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    I don’t know what it is about a glimpse into someone else’s life but it always seems entertaining–even when it’s boring! I once went to a coffee shop to work on therapy notes and happened to sit a table away from a break up. Awkward. Why would you bring someone to a public place to dump them?!?!?

    1. Jason@LiveRealNow October 10, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      That’s easy. There’s less chance of a giant dramatic response and you can get up and leave if it goes poorly.

      1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        HAH! I accidentally broke up with my girlfriend of 5+ years over the phone because she had spidey senses and knew it was coming face-to-face so she literally just said “if you’re about to break up with me tell me now and get it over with”

        Man… 30 seconds later that was that and still feels so strange to this day. She was a psychologist so wondering if that’s why it went down as it did?

  7. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich October 10, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    I love the wetsuit vs. bikini observation.

    This reminds me of the time I got my hair cut and totally eavesdropped on my hair stylist talking to the one next to her about how she was going to not go buy junk food at the dollar store so she could save up to buy a nice couch and the other one thought she was crazy. I totally turned them into a blog post.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      YES! These stories need to be spread out there in the world for our enjoyment :)

  8. jestjack October 10, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    I guess this is a bit like “people watching” but in “3D” for a fee. I wonder what the business plan on these coffee shops looks like. Every time I stop in one of these, there are a bunch of folks charging their phones, enjoyng the free Wi-Fi while nursing a small coffee. I’m guessing the name of this game to be profitable would be “table-turn”. Even at $5 for a coffee, ya gotta sell a lot of coffee to cover the overhead…

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      Yeah, some places will kick you out of wifi automatically after a certain amount of time, but for the most part you can stay and do your own thing for quite a while. I try and not overstay my welcome once traffic picks up at these places, but usually I’m going on off peak times (ie during middle of work day) and sometimes it’s only me and 2 other people in the entire place. One of the shops is super entrepreneur focused and actually encourages small biz and hustlers to stick around and chat/collaborate with each other – that’s the best kind of cafe :)

  9. Brian @ Debt Discipline October 10, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Love this post. I’m amazed at the the conversations I hear or over-hear in my office. Just heard 2 guys trading throwing up stories this AM. Happy Friday!

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      Hah! What it’s like to be that young again…

  10. Bridget October 10, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I’m about 1000x more productive in coffee shops than trying to work from home…. but I’m clearly not evesdropping enough

  11. Tim October 10, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Yes, more coffee shop confessions please.
    Thank you.

    Everyone! =D

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Well if EVERYONE wants them, you got it sir!

      1. Sundeep October 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        CoffeeShopConfessions.com for that site that lists topics of conversations you overhear in coffee shops. If you build it, they will come!!

        1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM

          Hah! That would be a fun project to work on – no doubt.

  12. Lauren October 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    That divorce one was sad :( I love people watching and eavesdropping in public places too, so I vote to keep this series going! I need to start working in coffee shops.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Thanks Lauren – glad you liked it :)

  13. Kurt @ Money Counselor October 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Amazing what a guy can learn about our culture just from hanging out in coffee shops. And the sorts of info people share at high volume with strangers is amazing too!

  14. David Hunter October 10, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    More Coffee stories!!!

    Divorce is a crappy one. I know all about it and it ain’t fun… especially when you’re forced to submit.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      It doesn’t sound nice, that’s for sure :(

  15. Dee @ Color Me Frugal October 10, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Aw, I feel so bad for the guy getting divorced. Too bad his attorney couldn’t meet him at the office to talk about all that!! I’ve considered going to a coffeeshop to write to see if I would be more productive. I may need to give it a try!

  16. The Lion's Shares October 10, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    My wife and I have always thought of doing something like this, but for NYC subways. Some of the things you overhear could be a stand up comedy routine.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      OH yeah! Especially weekend nights after people have had a few too many cocktails! :)

  17. Ben Luthi October 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Def keep doing this! It’s always fun to be a voyeur (in the non-creepy way, of course :))

    Really sad about the divorce and the daughter, though. I get a feeling that a lot of parents have it in their mind what their kids should do, and if their kids choose to do something else, they freak.

  18. Rob October 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    I’m now going to double-check to make sure you aren’t in the coffee shops I frequent in NoVA!

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      You never know where I’ll come preying ;)

  19. Even Steven October 10, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    I loathe to hear people at working talking on the phone, let alone the coffee shop stories, so I feel your pain sir. I prefer the small town coffee shop regardless of cost, but my go to coffee shop is the cheapest and offers free refills, so it’s hard to leave.

  20. Lance @ HWI October 10, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    So the other day I was at the coffee shop for “business” and I’m pretty sure the guy next to us on the laptop was listening to our conversation. I’m almost positive he was even with headphones. Anyways …. got to go … have to meet my quota by the end of the week on sales to 14 year-old’s.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      I hope you’re selling them “intro to blogging” manuals!

  21. Diaan Hayes October 10, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    I was at a coffee shop one day while my daughter was at a girl scout meeting. There was a couple sitting next to me. I overheard the guy say to the girl sitting with him “If I ever have kids I will not name one after me.”. He went on to talk about how his dad’s poor credit history was giving him a poor credit history too!! Lesson learned.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Ooooh interesting! Hadn’t considered that one before, but yeah – totally can backfire on you. Same with having a name similar to a terrorist or criminal for that matter. One of my friends is ALWAYS getting pulled over in airports and super searched out because of the name problem – so annoying.

  22. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 10, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Wow, I loved this! When I need to get out of the house I’ve been going to the library to write, but I think I might use up some gift cards if I come across some jems like these!

  23. Kim O. October 10, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Thanks for confirming that I’m not the only one who “overhears” wacky conversations when working in the coffee shop office! :) Just as I was leaving one a couple sat down and started talking about some relationship d-r-a-m-a! If I hadn’t been standing up putting my computer in the bag I would have sat back down for a little. lol

    1. J. Money October 10, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      That would be hard to do without causing some suspicion, haha…

  24. Nicola October 10, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Looking forward to more in this series! The divorce one was sad though :( I’d love to be able to sit in a coffee shop one day and just accidentally hear what people are talking about; they generally talk quite loud!

  25. Dividend Mantra October 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM


    Haha. Good stuff. That conversation with the attorney sounds like a major downer. Poor guy.

    I tend to write outside of the house once a week. I feel guilty about it because it’s cheaper to stay home and write, but I sometimes get distracted here at the house. I’m guessing you’re in the same spot? Glad to know I’m not the only one who might choose to actually leave the house to write. I find I’m a lot more productive if I’m at a table somewhere, just me and the computer.

    I hope you continue to drop some nuggets of weird convo on us in the future. :)

    Have a good weekend, bud.

    Best regards!

    1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Yeah, I focus much better with stuff happening around me actually. And in coffee shops I just put on the ol’ ear phones (when I’m not eaves dropping) and it helps a lot too.

      I’m gonna have to look out for you at the cafes and see if I can overhear any juiciness ;)

  26. Danielle October 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    These are great! I’m a big fan of ‘OH’ tweets myself. ;)

  27. Louise @ Good Financial Choices October 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    That sounds hilarious – I’d love to be a coffee shop blogger, and I have to say I’d earwig on fellow patrons, there must be so many articles there in the making!

    What makes it so appealing is the difference from my current open plan office days….

  28. DivHut October 11, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    If nothing else this post just reminded me to speak more softly while in a coffee shop. Don’t need my dirty laundry aired. Thanks for sharing this fun post.

  29. Heather October 12, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Ha! This is awesome! Coffee shops are a great place to people watch while blogging!

  30. marty October 12, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    I never blog anywhere besides my house and clearly I am missing out. These conversations are golden. I love how when your in public people feel the need to talk to you as if your suddenly friends. With me since I am in a wheelchair random people give me random health tips that I think they get from WebMD. I love people watching its an excellant hobby and doesnt cost much. I think conversation overheard at the doctors office are more juicy

    1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Oh jeez, I can’t imagine… I bet they do things like talk real loud too as if you were deaf as well – that happens to a family member of my own that’s in a chair ;) Sometimes he plays along just to be funny.

  31. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank October 13, 2014 at 4:56 AM

    You have a lot that you’ve heard of during coffee time. Me? I can only remember one or mostly they talk about business or work. This is the most interesting topic I’d like to hear because aside from it is based on experience, they talk about the ups and downs of being professionals. I really learn from them and can’t keep myself from listening. :D

  32. Prudence Debtfree October 13, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    I have had that internal dialogue regarding eavesdropping before : ) Debt Debs (another debt blogger) and I had coffee together a little while ago – we had met online and discovered we lived in the same neighbourhood. We talked all things debt, and our 1 hour meeting extended to over 2 and a half hours. I know that bits of our conversation were being processed by the people around us. But hey, if we were getting people to think about their finances and debts – that’s OK.

    1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      You tricked people into LEARNING when they wanted gossip! Haha… Well played. Next time I’m in y’alls area I’m coming to join you two :)

  33. Kendal @HassleFreeSaver October 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Oh man, I enjoyed the heck out of this post. Well done! The charity pitch was especially touching.

  34. Cat@BudgetBlonde October 13, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    I was at a coffee shop yesterday and some people were literally reciting poetry to each other. This was not a planned poetry reading but rather some display of hipster love. I wanted to listen really I did but I put headphones in lol.

    1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:27 PM


  35. Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 14, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    The 20-year-old girl with the degree is something my dad would say. I think they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young. While I’ve been home in Detroit I’ve been hanging around friends with older kids (than the ones my friends in LA have), and there was non stop talk/bitching about the cost of kids and activities and how some parents are blowing wads of cash on getting their kids to specialize in sports with travel teams, which costs a lot of money!

    1. J. Money October 18, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      Oh yeah, some of that stuff is no joke. I think it’s going to be hard for me personally to say no to anything sports/musical/hobby-related if it enriches their lives and makes them happy. I’ll need to figure out where to draw the line or else I’m in trouble :)

  36. debs October 20, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Ha ha I went to Tim Horton’s with Prudence Debtfree and we were talking about our debt situations and Prudence told me afterwards that the lady behind her said to her husband “Well this is interesting”. I was just blabbing on, oblivious to who was around us. LOL

    1. J. Money October 21, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      You should do a quick google search to see if anyone put it online ;)

  37. Laura@afrugalchick October 21, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    I still have yet to be in a Panera working and NOT hear someone around me doing a sales pitch for a pyramid scheme. Essential Oils, real estate, newspaper subscriptions etc. Panera is the new gathering place for those of us who need to meet clients but don’t have an office! Our local coffee shops have gotten smart and no longer have outlets for me to mooch power off of but the restaurants seem okay with it.

    1. J. Money October 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      Ick!! Aren’t you tempted to jump in and just scream “don’t do it!!! Run for your life!!” Haha… That would be annoying as hell to see all the time, ugh.

  38. Syed October 23, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    These were really enjoyable to read. Would enjoy reading a series of posts about this.