Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thoughts on Making Friends at Coffee Shops

 

People across the room, coffee shopI was thinking about all the stuff everyone says these days about the loss of community over the last few decades, and about this article I had just read (tl;dr: even the coasty lefties at Vox agree, the Midwestern model works better for people), in which a millennial expresses gratitude for having found community, as exemplified by her neighborhood coffee shop where “everybody knows her name”, so to speak. I (very belatedly) started watching Cheers, curious to see what insights it might offer. I thought back to my own experiences as a busboy and waiter at a restaurant, where it was deeply important to the regulars to know and be known.

I wondered why I didn’t feel that way about any of the local coffee shops I’ve gone to.

I went to a local coffee shop to get some work done. At some point, as a handful of customers and staff concentrated around the bar, one of them asked, “Who’s this quote from?”

“Huh, I don’t know—hey, who’s this quote from? ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’?”

“Um—not sure.”

“Shakespeare? I think it was Shakespeare.”

“Alexander Pope,” I ventured, but I was seated halfway across the room, and they play the music pretty loud at this coffee shop, and I lost my voice a couple of days ago. “Alexander Pope!”

“You know, I’m pretty sure he’s right. It was Shakespeare.”

Eventually someone looked it up. “Huh—it says Alexander Pope.”

“Alexander Pope? I don’t even know who that is.”

“‘An Essay on Criticism’.”

“Is it possible Shakespeare stole it from Pope?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s also in Shakespeare.”

“I mean, not ‘stole’ it, but used it. Borrowed it.”

I bet there’s a metaphor or a moral somewhere in there.

There are 13 comments.

  1. Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Coolidge
    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Post author

    True story. (No foolin’…) Happened this morning.

    • #1
    • April 1, 2019, at 7:02 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Coolidge
    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Post author

    Possible pithy one-liner (à la Alexander Pope) lessons:

    — We all want to be understood and seen
    But difficult to bridge the gulfs between us

    — You want to make friends (or just conversation),
    Then don’t sit so far from the coffee station…

    — Want meaningful connections? There’s more hope
    If you don’t only care who can quote Pope!

    • #2
    • April 1, 2019, at 7:17 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  3. Quietpi Member

    I take it nobody ever heard you. Somebody in the group Googled it.

    Starbucks, like them or not, certainly fills this function. I occasionally visit several in the area (my office is my car). Each has its regulars – its characters, its cultures. I’m immediately recognized at a couple, and greeted by name – and they know my order – at one. I am not a “regular” at any S’bux – although I do stand out like a sore thumb, sort of like a holstein in a flock of sheep.

    • #3
    • April 1, 2019, at 7:42 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer (View Comment):
    — You want to make friends (or just conversation),
    Then don’t sit so far from the coffee station…

    And Couplet 2 wins by several lengths!

    • #4
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Hank Rhody, Missing, Inaction Contributor

    I find the opportunity of making friends these days rare enough that I don’t think I’d spoil it by knowing Pope.

    • #5
    • April 1, 2019, at 11:08 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    I find the opportunity of making friends these days rare enough that I don’t think I’d spoil it by knowing Pope.

    Yeah, that was more a you in high school sort of thing.

    • #6
    • April 1, 2019, at 11:12 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Bill Nelson Member

    The coffee shop on Frazer had a similar vibe as the bar in Cheers.

     

    • #7
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:32 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Coolidge
    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer Post author

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):

    The coffee shop on Frazer had a similar vibe as the bar in Cheers.

    I suppose if I watch the spin-offs after I finish the original, I’ll have more than a decade of material to work through!

    • #8
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Stina Inactive

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    I find the opportunity of making friends these days rare enough that I don’t think I’d spoil it by knowing Pope.

    Yeah, that was more a you in high school sort of thing.

    When I was in high school, I attempted to throwdown some humor with some Austen.

    I didn’t have many friends…

    Coffee shops never worked for me. Neither did Panera or Barnes & Noble.

    Or church.

    • #9
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Postmodern Hoplite Member

    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer: I thought back to my own experiences as a busboy and waiter at a restaurant, where it was deeply important to the regulars to know and be known.

    First of all – loved the OP. When I got to, “Eventually someone looked it up. ‘Huh—it says Alexander Pope.’ ” I was already chuckling.

    Second, as regards a place “where everybody knows your name,” I’ve been a regular long enough at my local Starbucks to be known and treated with a bit of special warmth and attention. More importantly, my son and I have been regulars at our particular bar and grill, and I’ve come to really appreciate what Hemingway meant when he wrote of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”

    • #10
    • April 2, 2019, at 7:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Basil Fawlty Member

    The conversation reminds me a bit of the regulars at the OJ Bar and Grill from the Dortmunder novels.

    • #11
    • April 2, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • Like
  12. Profile Photo Member

    Unwoke,

    From my perspective, the new chain coffee shops like Starbucks, Panera, Coffee Bean, et al all seek to project a cool hipster attitude and to encourage a hipster millennial clientele which often makes them thriving businesses. Cool hipsters are much more likely to pay unreasonable cool hipster prices just to virtue signal their hipsterness. While this hipster cool tude may be a good business model, it does not encourage warm congeniality.

    You see to maintain your hipster cool tude, one must maintain at all times an Obama like aloofness and disdain for the common folk, who have been shown to exhibit a pronounced particularly uncool tendency to be OMG! Christian or Republican or believe in American Exceptionalism or some such other Right Wing Fringe Rot.

    Engaging such RightWingers in friendly conversation will not be good for your hipster quotient and may result even in the loss of some of your more truly valued hipster friends. Truly an unthinkable outcome.

    So to maintain your hipster cool continue to frequent these cool hipster coffee shops. However, if you seek friendly conversation, you might want to try to those old, run down Coffee shops where the uncool go. These places still exist. And the prices are better!

    For example here even in hipster LA, there is a burb called Burbank. It is home to thousands of hipster employees because Warner Bros, Disney, ABC, Nickelodeon, Universal, NBC, and Dreamworks either all have large operations there or right next door. That said, however, for some strange reason perhaps because it also was once home to Lockheed, Burbank has an abundance of old style coffee shops and restaurants frequented by many of those decidedly uncool but friendly types where striking up a conversation would not be out of the ordinary. I’m sure there are places like that close to where you live, so you might want to try them instead.

    ,

    • #12
    • April 2, 2019, at 8:23 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Instugator Thatcher

    When I was a young 2nd LT it was quoted to me as

    To err is human

    To forgive is not SAC policy

     

    • #13
    • April 2, 2019, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 6 likes