I have always been intrigued with other people’s conversations. I should consider having my name changed to “nosy body.” I like listening to people because I am fascinated with the way people communicate with one another. Body language, voice inflections, their ability to listen or quickly cut someone off, et cetera. My favorite spot to be a nosy listener is in coffee shops. This is mostly due to the fact that I’m almost always at the coffee shop by myself and when that happens, listening ensues. I like to think that listening leads to learning and learning leads to sharing.
Last week I was at a local coffee shop that I frequent whenever I’m in Boston, The Thinking Cup. If you’re familiar with this place, then you would know that they do not provide wifi. They say it’s because they want folks to socialize rather than being glued to their laptop or cellphone. I think that they just want a quick revolving door of clients and eliminate the possibility of having someone buy one cup of coffee and hog the table in the corner for several hours. It’s all a business ploy! On another note, every time I go to their shop, I am forced to sit and enjoy my #dailycortado because if I don’t take a picture then my latte art, quickly, it won’t be as cool and my espresso won’t taste as strong. So I sit, and after taking several photos, I am committed to sitting at the table for the duration of the coffee being warm. In between editing the photo, my ears are taking in the white noise that I call “conversations.”
There was a couple beside me that were enjoying their pastries alongside of their lattes that had equally as lovely latte-art as mine. They don’t take a picture though. I am immensly envious of their nonchalant behavior in this world of instagrammers. The guy sits back and relaxes against his seat while the girl leans forward on the table, over her dessert. If her necklace was longer, it would’ve laid over her French macaroons. She doesn’t whisper but she softly says, “what kind did you get again?” She eyes his single, lonely macaroon on his plate. He lifts the coffee with his right hand as his left is scrolling through something on his iphone.
“I think hazelnut or something? I’m not sure. I don’t think the girl heard what I said.”
“It looks like it’s hazelnut.”
“How can you tell?” He asked without looking up from his phone.
“The crushed nuts all over it.”
“It could be other nuts”
“like deez nuts?” He looks up from his phone and smirks at her response. She leans back, smiles at herself, and goes through her phone.
The guy to my right looks like Justin Bieber. He was wearing a shirt with a lot of holes in them. I don’t know whether they were placed there on purpose, or maybe he was homeless, or perhaps he just got mauled by a belieber in the street of Boston. But his style of clothing was indeed interesting. More specifically because he looked ratty without having the smell of a dumpster diver. In fact, he actually smelled like a decent cologne that you can probably buy at a mall kiosk for $29.99.
What is distinctly unique about this man is that he greeted every single person that walked into the place. A simple head nod, a smile, an actual “hey, how’s it going?” Not to my surprise, he barely got a reaction out of people. They were absorbed in this fast paced environment and didn’t even notice that this dude with a ratty shirt was greeting them. I must commend him on his resiliency because of his continuous effort in acknowledging the humans that are entering this fancy coffee joint. I don’t know if I could’ve done it.
As I jotted down all those little bits of stranger behaviors coming from “coffee goers,” I noticed the two children that are sitting diagonal from me. They look to be about my son’s age, four and the other one looks around six. They’re sipping their drinks through a straight straw and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those two rugrats because bendy straws are the bee’s knees! Their, I assumed, mother was on her phone. Her back was turned towards me so I can see that she was scrolling through facebook at the time. The two kids were talking to one another but I was sitting too far away to actually hear what it is that they’re saying. I noticed one of them rolling their eyes and the other one continues talking while using her exaggerated arm movements to express the excitement. They call out to their mother and she continues scrolling. They tug at her hand and she holds up the universal sign for “one minute.” Finally, she looks up and folds her arms and indicates “what is it? What do you want?” Both of the kids just laugh because I think the moment has passed. Whatever they had to tell her is gone. It’s over.
The coffee shop adventures bring me to the awful realization that we constantly make ourselves busy in another world, all the time. The technology world. We’re multitaskers (some better than others) and I don’t think anyone is truly an expert on it. We’re always sacrificing our ability of being fully present. As a millennial mother, I know that I’m guilty of allowing myself to do that. I quickly judge other people’s behaviors because when it gets put in front of you, you realize just how absurd it all is. How superficial that world can make you! In one of my classes, we are talking about how technology is seductive. It draws you into this realm of being constantly connected that we’re forgoing our ability to be connect to what’s going on in the present.
I gathered all this in the 7 minutes that I was at the coffee shop. Man, cortados makes you think.