Nothing earth-shattering, just a few observations.
The Starbucks I have been frequenting for quite a while was recently renovated. They put in two long wood tables in place of single and double seating small tables. I didn’t like it. It felt like we were being herded into close quarters with strangers. I stopped going there.
A couple of months later I decided to stop in and tried sitting at the long table. It was surprisingly comfortable. They were wide enough so that the person on the opposite side wasn’t in your face. There were outlets underneath to plug in your devices.
They were constructed of a nice warm wood, as were the sturdy chairs.
And, I noticed something else. It was actually nice to be surrounded by folks. Sometimes you want your privacy, and sometimes it’s nice to have a casual conversation with a stranger.
I’m sure the corporation’s plan was to provide more seating with the new design, but were they also considering that we are living in a culture in which our primary relationship is with our smartphones, iPads, and laptops?
Were they intending to bring people together socially in a world where we don’t know each other’s names?
I don’t know, but now I really enjoy the long table. Most of the time there aren’t too many other people sitting at it anyway, but I am no longer trying to sequester myself to a quiet corner of the cafe.
In fact, since I’ve been sitting at the long table I have had a few people I don’t know reach out and ask me if I am a writer, and seem interested in what I am about. They even want to read my blog.
And I find them interesting as well. They have interesting things to say about their own lives, and we share a couple of laughs. These feel like heart connections, and I will take them. If we never see one another again, it feels as if the connection was consequential for all involved.
THE TEEN SCENE
So, this morning I am surrounded by young teen girls from the local middle school. They come in each morning before classes, chat with each other, and some search on their phones for….well, what the hell do I know what for? There’s five decades between us!
From what I hear, that generation is hungry for an affiliation, acceptance, social media attention, and becoming famous online.
It’s the ‘like’ generation. How many likes can they get on their Instagram or Facebook page, maybe? Almost famous?
Speaking of teens, a while back this place was teeming with teens who bombarded the place before and after school each day. And it was hell! I avoided those times of day. But now it’s much calmer. The students here are a bit older, and, they are almost all female.
So it feels more peaceful. Interesting. The female energy feels more calm, even from teens with raging hormones. The boys were generally much more boisterous, intent on attention grabbing, and were much more competitive with each other.
There were times when the barista would tell them to get out if they were not going to be civil.
There were a few instances where they tried to destroy property here. But I noticed the balance of male to female made a difference in the prevailing mood.
The female definitely had a calming effect, even if their conversations were animated. It’s a different dynamic. There is so much more co-operation between friends, helping each other with homework, being more gentle with how they explained things to each other.
It felt more balanced.
I get the sense that if there are an equal number or more girls in the mix of teens, the boys are more apt to adapt to the prevailing energy of calm and co-operation. It’s as if many of the boys actually like that energy but need permission to embrace it.
Of course I’m talking in general terms, there are always exceptions with both genders. And, I’m sure the boys being more animated gives the girls permission to let loose a little more, and not try so hard to always be sweet and nice and accommodating.
Oh, and look at that. A group of girls just left for school, and by golly, they actually cleaned up their spaces and pushed their chairs back in.
That rarely happened with the boys. The poor baristas were routinely left with a mess to clean up.
But, having said all of that, the girls tend to spend much more time in the restroom, and use much more toilet paper.
But their aim is better.
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