Starbucks again on a rainy morning, although I do have my sights on another space in the near future….stay tuned. I’m only really here for the view anymore. Everything else has faded for me here like the last credits of a late night movie. The coffee is not a catch. My chair is gone…and there’s only so many cheese Danish that I can consume before someone will need to break out the paddles. The community feel is gone for the most part.
Take this morning for example. I stopped for gas and ended up just minutes off my intended schedule. That’s all it took for the curious space phenomenon to shift into high gear. It has always been interesting to me that while Starbucks and others like it have built an empire on creating community, when you actually come into a place, unless it’s a prearranged group, people have a specific method of insuring that they aren’t seated next to someone until absolutely necessary. Individual tables tend to be occupied, every other one, not next to each other. Seating with multiple chairs at one table have people at every other seat, even if it appears that they might be together.
Like I said, take this morning or example. Every other seat at every section of seats was occupied. As I, and nearly every follower behind me walked through the doors you could instantly sense the dilemma. Who was going to break the cycle first…and next to whom would they break it? I was the first this morning, and once I did, the pattern was off and every seat began to fill. It was still a reluctant filling, but you could sense that everyone now felt permission. The only one oblivious to this social experiment was a curious toddler of about 18 months who doesn’t yet understand social boundaries. I envy him. I found myself jealous that he could just bop around the room exchanging toddler greetings and staring like someone who suddenly found himself in a land of giants.
It makes me wonder at what age do we develop space issues? Now, to be sure, some adults have never acquired space issues. We all know these people and we tend not to invite them along on outings with us. They also never really developed the inside voice either. I’m not sure though when this felt need to separate by at least one degree came about. I just find it ironic that this morning, in this place at least, I was the one to break the pattern.