Sunday, August 24, 2008


I got kicked out of a coffee shop today.

(Yeah, I seems pretty ridiculous, doesn't it? I mean, seriously, people. Anyone who knows me will find it hard to believe that I would actually get kicked out of somewhere. Brett, now -- well, I'm sure you can see him getting kicked out, but me? I don't think so.)

Elanor and I were downtown with Brett's mom and Rachel, Brett's sister. We had been shopping and decided to get some coffee, as we had about 45 minutes to kill before we had to take Rachel to meet up with some friends.

We were in the middle of downtown, but coffee snobs that we are, we didn't want to patronize any old (yucky) coffee shop, so we got in the car and drove down to Trabant in Pioneer Square.

When we walked in, the place was empty except for the two employees -- one male, one female.

I ordered our drinks -- cappuccinos -- and paid for them. The male barista made Brett's mom and me gorgeous cappuccinos, which we sat down and began to enjoy.

(A side note: It truly was one of the best cappuccinos I've had in a very long time. The coffee tasted wonderful, the milk was nutty, and the foam was really nice and dense.)

We were the only customers in the shop for a few minutes, until about five people came in and sat down at a table up by the door.

The high ceilings were making everything echo -- the espresso grinding, the doser, the music...and every noise that anyone in the shop made.

Elanor was being a typical seven-month-old and was babbling away. At one point she squealed and it echoed in a huge way. I looked up at the barista and said, "Oh, sorry, she's being kind of loud." He smiled and said that it was no problem.

We'd been there about 30 minutes when I had finished my coffee and Elanor started to fuss. She broke into full-on crying, and I stood up to take her outside to wait while Brett's mom and Rachel finished up. I was just telling Rachel what I was going to do and was asking her to grab the diaper bag when we were approached by the female employee, who had been over at the other table of customers in the store.

Elanor had been crying for maybe -- MAYBE -- a minute, tops, at this point.

The female employee then told us that if the baby was going to be loud that we would have to leave. She said she was trying to teach a class and that they "can't hear anything."

She also said that she didn’t “know anything about children” but that she had to ask us to leave if the baby was going to be noisy. Clearly, she knows nothing about children; no one ever seemed to tell her children don’t come equipped with an on/off switch.

In the moment, flustered by being confronted and by Elanor’s crying, I just told the woman that we were already leaving and then walked out of the shop, leaving my family to collect my bag and our other things.

Of course, now I can think of about a million different things I wish I would have said, many of which are not very nice.


It's probably good that I didn't say any of that while I was there since none of it is very nice.

After we left, I called Brett and told him what had happened, and he was shocked. We've been in this shop many times before and Brett is at least somewhat acquainted with several of the employees and even interviewed for a job there around the time he got his current job.

So, instead of marching back in there and telling the woman off like Brett's mom wanted to do, I did what I do best and wrote an angry letter, which I plan to mail on Monday morning, in which I mention that I am going to blog about my negative experience both here and over at Seattle Mom Blogs. (Which, yeah, I'm sure they're oh so scared that I'm going to blog about this, since I'm so important and since I get so much traffic on my blog -- not -- but still, it doesn't hurt to mention that I am going to talk about my negative experience with other people.)

I'm going to ask this over at Seattle Mom Blogs, too, but I'm curious. How many of you have been asked to leave a public place because your child was loud/disruptive/etc? What did you do?


Xin Lei said...

Oh my...that's a horrible experience...remind me to boycott that coffee shop if I'm ever in Seattle! Anybody with a brain knows that if your baby is screaming, you will quickly leave the premises, not only to calm your little one but also because you want to avoid unseemly scowls from the people around you. I can't believe the female employee didn't already observe that you were going to take Elanor outside! Kudos on writing the letter...this place definitely needs to know why they lost you'll as customers!

Noelle said...

Ummm.... horrific! I don't have children of my own, but I have definitely been in many establishments where babies were getting fussy. I don't care if the woman "didn't know anything about children." She would have to have been in a cave most of her life to have never seen a baby cry/fuss!

It would be one thing if you were sitting there carrying on, ignoring your crying child. But you were being a responsible, loving mom - and doing exactly as you should! I'm so sorry you had to go through this experience. It bums me out to hear this story and I really hope it was an isolated inicident at Trabant. Keep us posted on whether you get a response! (Free coffee for life?)

Isabel said...

Holy crap...this is crazy. I love how people think we can just control our kids. If we could, don't you think they would never cry?!

(I totally "shared" this post on google and I plan on Stumpling it also. Just to get your more traffic. Take that!)

I think writing a letter is the best thing to do. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that, yet I can because people are so frigging stupid and irrationally intolerable of children when they act their age. That's complete b.s. and I can understand why you just left because you were in SHOCK at the ridiculous request and explanation! They SHOULD lose your business.

Christine said...

Babies babbling or fussing - I can totally deal with.

Babies who are full on crying or screaming, I do expect the parents to do something about - be that feeding said child, playing with them, or taking them outside. While you knew that you were going to take your baby out, to the barista it just might have looked like you were standing there and continuing your conversation.

Especially in a coffee house where, in my experience, people come to read and study. (And without the expectation that it will be silent, but also thinking that there won't be people screaming either).

kirida said...

That's really infuriating, especially if you're on your way out and the employee has to give you this last jab. I'd be interested in what Trabant has to say.

Also, I had a similar experience, not with an employee, but with a nutjob restaurant patron who didn't tell me to leave, but out of nowhere, told me to keep my child away from her. Your post made me remember that incident and how I wish I had really told her off.

Michael said...

Hi Kathleen,

I'm Michael, co-owner of Trabant, and I believe we've met through Brett. I am very sorry to hear about your experience at Trabant, and hope your previous experiences at our cafe show this to be an unfortunate but isolated incident. Had I known it was you who experienced this, I would have contacted you to personally apologize much earlier, as we certainly understand babies dont have an off-switch. Education and personal connection with customers is central to what we do, so this experience obviously is not in line with what we believe or what we train baristas to do.

My wife and I learned about this incident the next day through Matt, the male barista on shift, who came to us expressing disapproval on how Alexa, the female barista handled things. We immediately met with Alexa. She told us she felt really bad afterwards, and that she called a few people, including her mom, who gave her an earful for her behavior. it has made her really reflect on how she approaches people in general. We have been working with her through some difficult personal issues.

We would love to offer a free coffee tasting for you and other moms, run by Alexa. We realize you probably dont want to see Alexa again, but she is looking forward to the opportunity to personally apologize and make it right, and to learn from it. Furthermore, none of the current staff members have children, and we would love the opportunity to talk with moms to learn how to best serve moms and kids.

Again, I'm very sorry for this experience. Please contact me anytime to further discuss this. You can reach me at michael @

Trevor said...

i'm not going to pretend that i or anyone else has the right to tell any other person what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

but... uhhh...should a pregnant woman *really* be drinking coffee?

i don't imagine that is healthy for gestating larvae.