Usually Saturdays the daughter force and I go to a Starbucks for our afternoon together and then out for dinner. Sundays is my day so I do a few chores in the morning like laundry and then consider relocating for a few hours with my stalwart Chromebook to another Starbucks.
There are two different Starbucks. One with her which is less busy and then this one where it may be more. Today its not and I have the big comfy chair in the corner with my hardly touched Frappuccino to consider. It has whipping cream on top and its a large and I get to watch the comings and goings. I can sit and watch the people and remember the time in this very Starbucks where I knew all the baristas. They would see me and say,
Mike you want your evening drink?
Then I would settle down and watch the sun waning away and the evening lights would come up and the chess players would arrive and take over this big table. Perhaps 5 games going at a time. And there i would sit and listen and watch. Home life was not so good. A divorce beckoned and a dog that I never wanted demanded attention. But the Starbucks was an escape for a time and place of my choosing. The chess pieces of life would position themselves and move forward and I’d wonder then when life would change around and I would find another chapter.
That time came but the baristas were still not there and the store was remodeled but still the big comfy chairs in the corner persisted. I could still watch the people and surreptitiously note their arrivals.
At the big table sit college students I believe studiously studying on their expensive Mac laptops. There’s an older couple studying a paper or tablet and the two groups avoid each other with chairs inbetween. The big table has power. Electrical power outlets let people charge up and amp up and remain for hours still. Gone are the chess boards and players but remaining are those that move the chess pieces of their lives around on invisible boards.
I wonder what the dark haired woman studies as she takes the notes and opens the books and avoids eye contact. Others often cast their gaze around the place perhaps looking out from the big table like those on a flight staring out a window. Longing to stay but knowing it will all end and outside the door and away from the big table are sets of requirements and needs and promises unfulfilled that demand attention.
The big table demands attention and multiple groups can sit and stare at the fantastical internet devices that Starbucks allows with its faster Google WiFi.
Booths and Tables and along the Wall
Along the opposite wall from me are these little tables and booths so to speak where each table has a power connector and people can sit in somewhat different settings. Everything is not shared like at the big table. People study and every so often look up as though to say,
I’m lucky you all. I have a table and I can do what I want, where I want. I’m not really studying like those at the big table. I’m doing my own thing and I like it.
Those people perhaps need more privacy but still want the sense of power that a 110 AC outlet gives them . The tables are big enough for a laptop and a drink. Maybe a salad.
The Smaller Tables Here and There
Then there are the smaller 2 and 4 seater tables. You sit up in the air on these tables and are perched above everyone else. There’s perhaps a sense of privilege but everyone realizes that the big table truly rules and people often sit at the smaller tablets waiting. Waiting for the drinks to come. None are occupied now.
End Game at the Comfy Stuffed Chairs
Its the end game at the big chairs. We’re full now with me and others. The stuffed chairs do not require a previous reservation but you sit there knowing you are at the edge and can spy on all others. Its a heady brew of privilege and responsibility and you have to drink slowly to stay longer. I won’t be leaving soon from here. The chairs rule and my old butt likes the comfort. I can easily watch the ebb and flow of customers and hear the buzz of conversations. People have things. Things to do. This is just a start or a stop for them. There is life outside this Starbucks that awaits.
I don’t have a set of next things so I sit and wait patiently for a new set of people to enter with silently spoken demands of a drink.
Consider it all when you go to a Starbucks. What is it really you see. Its like a small slice of that culture where so many different people gather and leisurely partake or rush through a drink. Starbucks does not mind if you sit longer and share that WiFi. They are good souls and will not time you out. But the there is a limit. Others have places to go and people waiting. I have none of those things.
I have you that read the blog and perhaps wonder why such things would be written. Its because of the comfy chairs dammit.
They forced me.