Saturday, 5 February 2011

Coffee Shop as a Microcosm

I'm back...and loving it!

In a week or two, I will have been back for three months, working for a company I "landed in" after my first bout of unemployment in Alberta. At that time, it was still a head scratcher to be unemployed in Alberta. Recessions come to every province, though, and that was the beginning of Alberta's. This second time, I had been willfully unemployed for about two days before being convinced that my return would be a good thing.

It's not about the money, although the money helps. For the most part, it's about what this place means to me. It is the common thread of my adult life...

As a hippy, I have been confronted with the question of how I could work for such a large corporation. Mostly, the comments I respond with are attempts at funny quips about ripping it off, knowing I'm taken care of, or abusing the benefits. I'm actually a good employee for them, though, feel cheated about the low wages, and never use my benefits. Then, what is the real reason? The thread. It was a place I discovered in Vancouver, the Canadian version of its birthplace. Vancouver means so much to who I am, bu I can't take the city with me EVERYWHERE. Luckily, I can find this company almost everywhere, and remember INSTANTLY what it was like to be in Vancouver. I remember my cafe back there; my first summer living on my own; writing as I watched people catch their bus; the regulars that I wrote about in my character journal; and all the friends I made along the way...all through a common love for a cup of joe...

Now, I cherish being a witness to some of the ridiculously random events that I see and hear by being that fly on the wall server to the masses. I exist on both sides of the counter, now, and it brings about some of the most interesting knowledge.

There's an example I've been meaning to share since December:

A coworker was working the till, running drinks through as quickly as possible, not paying too much attention to the rest of the world, just doing her job. A young woman approached the till, but was interrupted by an older, but still young man. By their greeting, my coworker believed that the two were strangers...but not for long.
This may not have been the young man's opening line, but it was apparently the one that worked. "Well, we're already here, why don't we share a coffee?" And the young woman acquiesced.
Immediately following this encounter, my coworker found herself within my earshot but not those of the two we began to discuss - as is often the case with the gossip we share. She tried to quickly convey to me what had just happened in front of her, not necessarily understanding the randomness that had transpired. I made their drinks with care, providing them with good coffee to discuss rather than complaints to fill a first date with.
Two hours later, I began to sweep the cafe, and saw the two strangers still talking to one another. She seemed relatively content listening to him tell an enthusiastic story about an area of his life he was proud of. I wonder if they'll return here for a Valentine's Day drink...

So there is the randomness of my privileged people watching that I enjoy. And then there is the analysis of the community that exists here that I love to do. I'll save that for another day. As for now, I'm still collecting data. Maybe after another three months, I'll be ready for my report....

Always the social scientist!

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