Survivor: The Coffee Shop


So far on our travels from New Jersey to the West Coast, we’ve managed pretty well for ourselves. 

We’ve been lucky enough to find some great, free (extra great) travel stops in quiet enough locations that were also clean and safe.  

We had all of the things you would want from a place where you’re half naked in your car with nothing but a makeshift sheet turned curtain separating you from the potential creepers of the night. 


When Our Road Trip Hit a Road Block

However, once we hit Oregon, that easy and comfortable option came to a screeching halt.  The drive into Oregon was incredible and we didn’t even get to see a thing. 

Washington state was full of great places, but for us, our last stop, Olympia left much to be desired. 

Around midnight, instead of spending another night there, we decided to drive the two hours to head to Portland.

Until recently, my only impressions of Oregon came from my elementary school memories in the computer lab where we would spend hours enveloped in the good ol’ adventures of the Oregon Trail. 

Neither Boris nor I have ever visited and we weren’t even on the Portlandia bandwagon. However, for some reason it was calling to both of us.


Oregon at Last

After a few exposures, we quickly came to the understanding that it was just a place to be weird.  And, that’s definitely up our alley. 

So, needless to say, we were excited to get there and see first hand what it was that we had been missing. 

The first stop on our Portland journey was at a truck stop about twenty minutes from the city.  The reviews looked great but the place looked even better.  It had a resort type feel with all the amenities you could ask for. 

It looked almost too good to be true. 

We parked and were about ready to do our nightly prep routine – where we transfer all of our belongings from the back of the car (our bed) to the front seats – which we’ve managed to work down to a science.  Instead, we decided to check things out first. 


Definitely Too Good to be True

As we walked inside, I noticed a security officer checking the parked cars with flashlights.  At that point, we realized that it in fact was too good to be true. 

It turned out that Portland’s truck stops are only for trucks…go figure!  Most of the states we had passed through seemed to have an abundance of them to choose from, but not Oregon. 

So, off we went with no other plans or ideas.  As we arrived in the city, we decided to find a 24-hour coffee shop.  Which, luckily for us, Portland actually had! 

Why not get some work done while we figure out what to do?  So, we found a spot that looked perfect: open all night, great Wi-Fi, comfy couches, and organic food.  We couldn’t ask for more… except for maybe a nap.


Hoping to Finally Catch a Few ZzZ’s

We had planned to scope out the situation and maybe we would be slick enough to catch a few Z’s before anyone noticed. 

But, no such luck. 

Fortunately, we were able to learn from someone else’s attempt before we had the opportunity to be publicly humiliated. 

Another guy came not too long after us and sat right behind me.  So uncomfortably close that I actually switched seats.  

Although, in retrospect, he must’ve just been looking for a person to hide behind and I was the reason for his discovery. 

Oops. 

Anyways, he spent the entire time alternating between dozing off and getting yelled at by the manager. 

Boris and I came to the conclusion that he probably got into a fight with his girlfriend or boyfriend and came to the coffee shop for refuge.  And here is this manager standing between this poor young man and his sleep.


How Long is Too Long to Spend at a Coffee Shop?

As the hours of the early morning approached, we found ourselves looking around and noticing a group of 6 or 7 familiar faces.  We seemed to have bonded over what we felt to be an uncomfortably long time to spend at a coffee shop. 

But, hey, maybe this was normal here? 

Either way, we loved it.  We felt comfortable and a part of a community. 

We would gaze around the room and fall upon a sympathetic glance as we looked at each other through half-squinted red eyes. 

“Let’s see who outlasts the group”, we thought, as we started to feel like we were starting some fun purpose to keep us going through the night.  At this point, we had been awake for almost 24 hours – with no sleep and no place to go. 

And, then, there were four.

When you’re running on no sleep, 3 cups of espresso, and have been staring at your laptop for 8 hours, it starts to feel like an accomplishment to outlast the fellow patrons.  It felt like a coffee shop version of Survivor. 


Who Will Make It to the End? 

Three men were dispersed around the room looking intently into their computer screens.  And, then, there was sleeping beauty, still dozing off, still getting yelled at by the manager. 

The sun finally crept in through the windows as the next round of employees came in for their early shifts. 

“Maybe I could work here,” I thought.  “I’ve sure been here long enough.  But, they probably wouldn’t hire a girl who spends all night at a coffee shop, right?  Or…maybe that’s exactly the type of girl that they would hire!”

It’s crazy the type of thought patterns your mind creates when you’re sleep deprived and hyped up on caffeine.  As my thoughts wandered off to unknown territories, I noticed that we were the last ones standing. 

Everyone had left, even our sleep-deprived comrade. 

WE MADE IT! Mission accomplished.

The coffee shop was now filling up with early rising newcomers and it was our cue to leave.  So, off we went to continue our search for sleep.


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