Every weekday afternoon or so, I go to Starbucks, otherwise called my office away from home. Every weekday afternoon or so, I experience interesting encounters, mostly unintended, with a rather large variety of characters. And, every so often, I publish a best of. Here is the latest batch.
Last Wednesday, late afternoon, I was sitting not where I normally sit - at a large table that sits 6, if they’re not American-sized - but at a sort of bench facing a wall. A kid, around 5 or 6, jumps on the seat next to mine (note: I can’t really tell children’s age. He may very well have been 4 or 8 as far as I’m concerned). A couple of minutes later, his mother sat on the other side of his chair, facing the kid. Hence I got to hear - in great detail - the entirety of their conversation. Which I immensely appreciated.
Mother: I feel like there has been a decrease in our communication.
Mother: Our interaction level is nearing a low.
Kid: What are you talking about?
Mother: Well, why won’t you talk to me?
Kid: About what?
Kid: I don’t know…
Kid: Well, why won’t you talk to me?
Mother: About what?
Kid 1 - Mother 0.
Last Friday afternoon, I was capping it off for the week - time to go drink milk - when a guy sat right next to me on that big table of ours (this time I got a seat). When I say “sat”, I mean “rushed”. He hurriedly got his laptop out and started typing away somewhat furiously for a Friday afternoon past 5pm. I was not the only one on the table: a young woman was sitting at the other end, also observing the man with a certain degree of curiosity. Then his phone rang:
Man: Yeah yeah, I’m doing it!
Man: Alright, I got it!
Man: For fuck’s sake, give me five minutes, OK?!
He almost slammed the phone on the table and started typing even faster. To the point I felt for his poor laptop (good thing it was not a MacBook: I would have found it even sadder). He started pulling stacks of paper off his backpack, cramming them on the table around him, frantically going through them, then getting back to his laptop… This went on for a while.
Every hour, the Starbucks wifi shuts down and you have to login again. I know that, most customers know that, he apparently did not know that. When his hour was up, all we heard was: “Fuuuuuuuck!”. This woke me up, obviously. I looked at him, he noticed my interest:
Man: Excuse me, are you using the Starbucks wifi?
I wanted to keep watching the show.
Stupid in any language
Yesterday afternoon, as I sat down at the big table, there were two young Asian girls next to me. They looked all cool and tattooed and bubbly, they had their laptops open - and their phones in hand - and it looked like they were working on some kind of assignment for their international business degree (I project a little). I sat down quietly and minded my own business.
Turns out they wouldn’t stop talking to each other, though. Which is OK in itself - and obviously allowed at Starbucks: you can always stay in your living room (with the cat meowing instead) - but can get a little annoying after a while. Like, they literally didn’t have time to write anything given the amount of their talking (I checked). I eventually put my earplugs in, cranked up the volume on Daft Punk’s Veridis Quo (my go-to song to kill off background noise) and off we went.
A little while later, I took out the earplugs to go the toilets (there are limits to what you can bring in there). Not quite surprisingly, they were still chatting away. I decided I would pay attention for a second, to see if I could understand any of it (I mean, I speak Russian, it may help). The result was - I didn’t understand a word, but I was able to pick up some of the intonations. And they sounded like any teen-style low-education snapchat-obsessed girls in the world. Right then and there, I assumed what they said was stupid.
Turns out they were biochemistry majors. Note: everything except this last sentence is true.