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Coffee House Antics

Becky, New York, USA
January 2001

This story occurred a few years ago at a coffee house called Uncommon Grounds in Uptown, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My friend Zoe worked there and I would pop in for as many discounted espressos as my brain could handle. The coffee house was in the lower floor of a two-storey white clapboard house with a wraparound, screened- in porch and was located on Hennepin Avenue, one of the main veins leading from downtown Minneapolis to the hip, Uptown area.

Like I said, the lower floor of the home was used as the coffee house and the upper floor was an abandoned apartment that was used for storage. There was a separate entrance to the upper floor from a staircase that snaked up the back of the house. There also was a door blocked by a velvet ouch opposite the main seating area that reportedly led to the second-floor apartment; these stairs were never used by the owners.

One night I was there hanging out with Zoe and a few kids she worked with when the talk turned to one of my favourite topics, true ghost encounters. Zoe was standing behind the counter which was situated in about the dining room area of the house. There were three glass shelves behind her head that contained various coffee house implements (and countless shelves behind and underneath the counter), among which were about 20 bottles of flavour shots for Italian sodas or whatever. I feel I should also mention that Zoe has a good knack at getting me to believe nearly any story so long as she told it with a straight face. When it was her turn to share a tale, she told us, in all seriousness, that the owners of the coffee house were freaked out because there was a ghost living in the abandoned, upstairs apartment. She said that during the renovation of the downstairs, they had heard footsteps, water running, an unusable toilet flushing, et cetera, when they knew that there was no possible way that a physical human being was up there making those noises.

Zoe continued to tell us that the owners were so freaked out by the unexplainable action upstairs that they had invited a professional to cleanse the house of its demons, but that none of us were really supposed to know, so we should keep it to ourselves.

Given Zoe's history of telling me the most outrageous urban legends and getting me to believe them (the kidney-snatchers story, for example), I refused to believe one iota of her story. So what? I said. Have you seen anything?

Zoe continued her story, and was supported by the other staff members when she told me of a particular lamp that turned itself on and off during the course of each day and evening. The owners had even had an electrician check out the lamp as it was annoying patrons with its occasional strobe light-like effect. Nothing was wrong with the lamp, the plug, or the switch, and there was no explanation for the lamp's strange behaviour.

I still refused to believe. So, I brazenly exclaimed, Well, whatever ghost lives here is completely lame! Who would want to spend their afterlife in a coffee shop, anyway?
What happened next freaked all of us out. Do you remember the 20 bottles of flavoured syrup I mentioned in the beginning of this story? The bottles were neatly stacked on three glass shelves above Zoe's head. Each bottle was at least two-thirds full, so each was heavily anchored by the weight of its contents to its place on the shelf. Immediately following my brash comment, a bottle of almond syrup tipped itself forward in slow-motion from its stationery position. The bottle moved forward as though someone was pushing it by the top of the bottle's neck, though no one in sight was touching it. Finally, the bottle was tipped so far forward that it fell off of the shelf, barely missing the head of one of the kids who was behind the counter with Zoe.

I saw the bottle slowly fall and gasped, we all gasped. Not having any legitimate explanation for why a heavy bottle that was securely placed in the middle of a shelf would SLOWLY tip forward and fall, we all drew the conclusion that there must be a ghost in the coffee house. I finished my cafe latte and got out of there, leaving the others to close up at midnight or one or whenever the place closed. I rarely visited the coffee house after the incident as I was afraid of any ghostly retaliation for my flippant comments.

Becky, New York, USA
00:00 / 01:04
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