Wednesday, July 15

The Wormhole Called Starbucks

Ya know, it's not every day that you discover a portal to a parallel universe.

In Starbucks, no less. I had to fight off four guys in black suits and military IDs just to let you know, but that's how devoted I am to you, the readers of this blog. You're welcome.

Here it is.

I know, it looks harmless. Just a simple chair. But here's a tip. Don't sit there. Unless you're really up for some kind of adventure. I mean, I can't testify, I didn't try it. I'm not sittin' there. But I am a witness, so I wouldn't advise it. Just sayin'.

So here's what happened. There I was, all set up to work for a couple of hours at one of my many local Starbucks. No, I don't drink Starbucks coffee. But I have largely succumbed to the fact that they are everywhere, and they have free wifi and comfortable chairs, so I found something I like there (though I still haven't found a single food, including desserts--to which I am generally favorably inclined--that I find appealing) and sometimes I camp out there to work. They don't throw you out, and I can carry a card so if I can't, er, find any money, I'm all set for awhile and that's enough for me.

Today I went to the Starbucks with the notoriously stupid parking lot. It's the only one like it. I don't get it, but it was nearby. It was a beautiful day today--it's about time, so I thought about sitting outside, but the only seating outside was taken, and I had a lot of loose papers to deal with, so inside it was.

I was lucky to snag one of the Comfy Chairs (despite being unwilling to confess to heresy by three counts: thought, word, deed or action), and I settled in for a bit of work. And here's where it gets interesting.

In the two hours that I spent in the aforementioned Comfy Chair, a series of six people (including two Starbucks employees) came and sat in the other, adjacent, Comfy Chair. Apparently, this other chair (not mine, thank god) is a portal to the netherworld. Because three of the six people who sat in it (in a row, mind you) proceeded to talk extensively to themselves. Or more likely, to some invisible beings, because they were not mumbling, they were taking turns, laughing, definitely carrying on a conversation.

Now, as you and I know, our assessment of people talking to themselves has been altered significantly by the proliferation of those tiny little phone headsets that people can wear almost invisibly. Don't' tell me you know don't know what I mean. You remember how it used to be. You'd be walking down the sidewalk, and you'd see someone approaching, talking away, and you would think okay, that person is hearing voices, and you'd have whatever response you had to encountering people who hear voices--hopefully, compassion, and frankly, sometimes evasion or discomfort. Well, that's out the window now, because now everyone and their brother talks out loud to themselves. It seems like a good thing, actually--puts people with associated disabilities in a more normative position. But there's no doubt about it, we're getting used to it. I'm willing to wager that once or twice, you have looked to see if they have a little wire running down their shoulder. Come on, admit it. I sure have.

So when this happened once, then twice, then three times in a row, especially with the degree of animation and turn-taking present in the conversations, I presumed that they were simply on the phone. And then it turned out that none of them were.

I've been trying to figure this out (not that there's anything wrong with it, it just defies statistics, and I'm interested in those kinda things). Maybe there is a group home or a treatment program that is located very nearby that Starbucks, and maybe their clientele prefer the comfy chairs. I know I do. Maybe that's it. Maybe there was some kinda energy over in my part of the store. It's been known to happen before. For now, in the absence of information, I'm just going with the most likely explanation: a wormhole.

And besides, they were playing Hawaiian music. It was coming out of a speaker right above my head. I ask you, who does that in Boston? When I went to ask the ever-helpful manager what it was, he said "Oh, the playlist is in the back somewhere, but I can't find it" (was he looking?). I asked "Well, is this the playlist playing in all Starbucks stores (thinking I could just look it up online)?" His reply? "If they have the same player as we do, then yeah, but I don't know.". Very helpful. Now, is that the aloha spirit?

I tell ya, there's something weird going on here.

No comments: