The Four Temperaments Go For Coffee

In considering the four temperaments – choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine – it occurred to me that a person’s temperament can be on full display in a simple interaction such as meeting a friend at a coffee shop. To illustrate the point, here are some brief descriptions of how a person with each dominant temperament might act:

Choleric: The choleric person has suggested the coffee meeting in the first place and proposed multiple dates and times to her guest, having first checked the hours of operation. She has taken care to choose a location that is equidistant between her and her friend’s place. She enters the cafe ten minutes early in order to grab a table that offers an interesting view of the cafe, but that won’t be too noisy. Then she asks the barista for the wifi password, not because she will need it but in case her guest asks and to save the guest from taking the time they have to spend together for such logistical questions. The choleric person orders a macchiato right away and then spends the several minutes that she has before her friend arrives crossing off items in her physical agenda.

Melancholic: The melancholic person wonders why her friend is already two minutes late and begins to worry that there might be two cafes with the same name. Upon receiving a text that her guest is just a few minutes delayed, she looks over the menu knowing that too many choices can render her indecisive. It would be a good idea to decide what to order before her friend arrives so that she doesn’t waste too much time deliberating over a flat white or a dirty chai latte and over a mint chocolate cookie or a ginger one. While she waits, she gets two glasses of water for the table and, since she has arrived twenty minutes early, she has plenty of time to read a full chapter and a half before her friend arrives.

Phlegmatic: The phlegmatic person arrives just a couple minutes late because of having had to park around the block and then having stopped to help an elderly gentleman struggling to carry all of his groceries to his car. When asked what she’d like to drink, she asks her friend to surprise her. She then lets her friend do most of the talking, but makes sure that she doesn’t finish her drink too early before her. Once they’ve both finished, the phlegmatic person offers to reciprocate and treat for the second beverage. While waiting for the drinks, she looks out the window and notices someone wearing the same sweater that she has at home.

Sanguine: The sanguine person is fifteen minutes late because she ran into someone she hadn’t seen since high school four blocks away from the cafe, and they got carried away reminiscing about the lip sync battle in Grade 11 and who had who as teacher advisor. When she arrives to the cafe, she greets her friend with a hug intended to be tight enough to compensate for her lateness. Since the sanguine person forgot her credit card at home, she asks her friend to spot her and promises to send an e-transfer later. She brings her friend hand-crafted jewellery from her latest spontaneous trip to Nicaragua and then chats with the barista to make sure that both of their beverages have some latte art.

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