Every coffee shop has to have a gimmick
, some way that makes it stand apart in the midst of franchises and chains. All the tables at Quigley's were for two people only, being so small, and had table placards like the kind you might see on the desk of someone important, little brass signs held in wooden stands. You know, like the kind that bank tellers use to tell you that their window is closed, that kind of thing. Only at Quigley's these little signs had a few options, where you could flip them around and have a choice on what it would say, what those passing by your table would read
On one side, the sign said We're just friends. Just like that, period and all, engraved on brass sheets. Flip it over and it would say Don't talk to _____, where you can insert him or her, depending on who you were advertising for. I thought this was a pretty nifty idea.
Coffee shops are usually in the crossroads of some educational or social class junction, where people of a certain caliber, race, economic bracket, or interests will convene and do one of a few things: study, read, write, talk, and/or think. This is not to say that people go to coffee shops in expectation of meeting new people, but being one of the last places deemed safe to do so in our PC world, a little visual aid couldn't hurt.
The people at Quigley's might have thought up the placard idea as a joke, but since they've been around since the store opened years ago, regulars come to depend on them to clue them in on exactly where the pairs sitting together stand, either as a couple or individually. The Don't' talk to _____ sign was just ambiguous enough to let whatever person wanted to be left alone be allowed to have that right without feeling the need to be polite. We are such economic creatures with our time, are we not, and so we come to coffee shops with at least one goal in mind, so it came as no surprised that the patrons at Quigley's came to appreciate the establishment in its ability to convey what the populace finds it difficult to say. And in so few words, no doubt. Fascinating.