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Excusing myself from the daily (coffee) grind

Column by Anthonette Klinkerman

I committed the absolutely most sacrilegious thing one could possibly do in a coffee place the other day. I’ve done this most heinous thing twice now. I sat and did … nothing. Yes, you read that correctly; I did nothing but sip my coffee in a coffee place. Well, I guess that is doing something there: drinking my decaf. I was also breathing. And listening to music and people watching, so I can’t claim I did nothing.

However, I did not make any attempt whatsoever to bury myself in my techno-toy or a magazine, or any other thing that people do in coffee places in a frantic attempt to look busy. I just sat. That apparently made people near me very nervous. Someone in a coffee place not doing anything? Blasphemy!

So we’re clear, looking busy and being busy are two totally different things, and mastering the first art is best done at work.

Some people around me were literally two-fisting their technogadetry- a phone in one hand, the other hand poised over their laptop. There has to be a support group somewhere for this kind of addiction. I can see it now, a sparsely furnished room, people seated in a circle. One man stands and introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Ned.” “Hi, Ned.” “I am … a technoholic.”

Everyone stands and applauds. Some women cry, a man gently approaches to give Ned “knucks.”

I digress. There was one couple engaged in real face-to-face conversation, and laughing genuinely. It was as though a light was shining on their table while all around the competition to look the busiest continued.

We wear our busyness like a badge here in America. For what? Everyone already knows that most of the apps we “use” are time-wasters. I get a little frightened at how thrilled people are to find coffee house locator apps. Perhaps human connections are too scary these days? If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you, maybe?

We lose a little more humanness each day. The irony is that we vacation in places where busyness is not a competitive sport, then return to our homeland declaring how refreshed we are.

Now I’m no math whiz, but it’s becoming painfully clear that we need to unplug, disconnect, and refocus. Those roses we’re supposed to smell along the way only bloom for so long, and I assure you they don’t smell like a coffee house.



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