Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 1


I arrived at a quarter past nine. My first venture into going to a location to write. I really had no idea what to expect. How busy would it be now that the roads were snow and ice free? I had some idea of how bad the house bound wanted to get out and rejoin the world of face to face conversations, yummy treats and warm drinks. After all that was part of the reason why I was here, but my main objective to be here was to observe and write. I am committed to focusing on my writing this year along with continuing to hone my photography skills. I make general observations wherever I go but I want to take that to a deeper level which means taking the time to just sit and watch.

As I stepped up to the counter to place my order for a cranberry walnut muffin and a Chai latte with skim milk, no whip, I noticed an assistant standing close to the order taker and listening intently. As I soon learned, the assistant was "in training". Haven't we all been there, that feeling of inadequacy, even though in the rest of our life we are fairly confident.

The assistant received her instructions; muffin placed on a paper napkin on top of a clear plate, then put in the microwave and press number 2 (obviously the perfect muffin heating setting.) Once out of the microwave, add the fork, knife and the pat of butter. The assistant delivered it to my table in record time. Her next task was the making of my Chai Latte which she seemed to master in short order and again she delivered very promptly. The new assistant will do well, I have great confidence in her.

As I settled in with my muffin and steaming Chai, I assessed the tables around me.


One held a group of three ladies in their later 60's. They were quite fascinated watching me as I unpacked my bag; journal, pencil, writing book that we are reading in my writing group, and last but not least my DSLR camera with the 50mm lens attached. I had homework to do for my 50mm class and what better place to do some people photography than in a coffee shop.

At the table closest to me sat a college professor and a student. The student, a girl in her senior year, reminded me of my daughter. Mallory has always had great relationships with her teachers and professors. The professor and girl were discussing her plans for life after graduation. Medical school seems to be in her hopeful future.

The last table my eyes settled on was directly across from me. It contained a lone college student. On the table next to him sat his backpack. In front of him was a cup of coffee, his laptop and his phone with ear phones attached. Soon the laptop went away and out came a text book. He went up to refill his coffee cup and as he sat back down away went the textbook and out came a magazine. Seems to have a bit of a short attention span. I briefly glanced to the ordering counter to see how the assistant was doing with a more steady stream of new customers. I glanced back to the table where the college student had been and poof, he was gone. Like I said, short attention span.

As much as I wasn't sure how this whole observation adventure would go, I must confess I enjoyed it and look forward to more coffee shop outings. The big dilemma I have now is, do I return to the same place or do I try a new place to continue to expand my horizons.

I guess you will have to wait and see.

24 comments:

  1. Sarah, thank you so much for taking us along with you for your visit to the coffee shop. How fun! I feel like I am reading a novel. I'm thinking same coffee shop. If you see returning customers they could turn out to be characters in your posts! Looking forward to reading more.

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  2. Coffee shops are my favorite place to write ... usually enough white noise so I don't get distracted, but sometimes enough activity to inspire me. Soon my writing place will be a hospital (again). I'd really like to get back on track!! I'm so glad you have kept your momentum and keep sharing such inspiring posts. Love to you, my friend.

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  3. I enjoyed being in the coffee shop with you. I'm taking the 50mm class, too, and I haven't started with the photography yet. I'm reading a soaking up the lessons. I would love to see what you've done with the class. Maybe tomorrow, I'll break out the camera again for some shotting.

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  4. Observation, listening, watching, waiting, quiet . . . lessons at The Good Earth.

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  5. Oh what a fun place to go to observe and write and possibly grab a shot or two with your 50mm. I haven't been out except to a burger king where I did take a couple of shots. People there probably thought I was a little nuts...pulling out my camera in a burger king.

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  6. Thankyou for sharing your experience I could see through you your outing. I think I must try another coffee shop and aee what happens.

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  7. What a great thing to do. Loved reading about your coffee shop experiences. I'll be taking a notebook next time I go! Looking forward to reading more of your adventures. :)

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  8. This was a fun trip to the coffee shop with you! It's always fun observing people and wondering what they are doing, especially the ones furiously typing away on their computers. What are they so busy typing?!

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  9. Feel like I'm right there with you drinking, eating, observing...

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  10. I agree, it felt just like I was there, too! Wonderful descriptions of everything!

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  11. Good morning. I felt like I was right there with you. This is a great alternative to your back roads adventure when you can get out and about.

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  12. I think you could go back to the same place, clientele change but of course a new venue will spark those grey observation cells, I have enjoyed your sharing your first step into a new way to look at it writing adventure.

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  13. Loved having coffee with you this morning! The college boy made me smile! As far as where to go next...I'd do both, a new place would be interesting, but returning occasionally to this coffee shop would be like a continued story. Looking forward to more coffee shop stories!

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  14. i think you should continue here at this coffee shop--- keeping tabs on the assistant, see if that same group of women frequent the shop on the same morning, if that same student ever comes back. i may have to do this experiment one day, sounds like you had a fun time!

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  15. Oh, it's been such a long time since I did this! I really enjoyed sharing your coffee shop morning with you. I once attended a writers workshop where Natalie Goldberg was the featured speaker and teacher. I wonder what I did with my copy of that book? (Too many moves!) I'll have to search it out - thanks for the reminder.

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  16. A challenging exercise, but you managed to capture the feel of where you were and had some of the same thoughts as I (about the student with ADD.)

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  17. I can just see you sitting there at your table with all your writing materials and your camera. While you observed, I'm sure you were being observed! {Now does that make you feel even more self-conscious? Take it with a grain of salt.} You've shared a fun experience with lovely photos this morning.

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  18. Keep writing, Sarah! You draw delicate portraits of the life around you. Most enjoyable to read.

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  19. Well, you'll have to check on the new girl again! But, I'd see what other places are like, too. I enjoyed your people watching and writing. I see you're reading Writing Down the Bones - one of my favorite writing books. Some good advise there.

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  20. your words paint the picture nicely - keep up the good work; can't wait to see where they take you.

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  21. Your words portrayed the scene beautifully, it was as thought I was sitting with you taking it all in. Perhaps you could revisit this shop again once you have adventured out a little.

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  22. Thank you for taking us with you.

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  23. Sounds a lot like Einsteins where I used to go with my photo buddies. Ahhhhh......

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  24. Here we are, three years in the future..I love your coffee shop chronicles! This kind of relaxation/observation over coffee is a big part of my life as well...I meet up with my best friends, Kim and Michelle weekly to drink coffee and catch up with their lives...We often discuss what makes the world around us tick..All three of us absolutely love beaches..We meet at a coffee shop that is on the Kemah Boardwalk..The ocean is only several dozen feet away from us..

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)