In cities across America, coffee shops have become a mecca for professionals to gather in one place and share experiences, intel, advice and networking opportunities. Most of those guys and gals sitting at the corner table, intently working on their computer while nursing a cup of coffee for three+ hours… are educated people just trying to do their work or drum up some lucrative business in an economic market that has been challenging at best. The real estate development folks refer to these coffee shops as “third places,” an extension to one’s living room.
It’s true, a coffee shop is not just a coffee shop anymore. Many an interesting character can be seen frequenting these “offices” … a lot of wisdom, gathered in one room.
Coffee Shop Jive
“It took him only fifteen minutes to walk to the coffee shop. It was hot and humid, but he was used to it. The Panama hat that he wore shielded him from the sun, which was a good thing. He opened the door and was greeted by a blast of frosty air. “The staff always keeps the air conditioning on way too high,” he muttered to himself. His favorite seat by the window was thankfully empty, so he strode over and placed his computer bag down.
Looking around, he noticed all the regulars. There were students, architects, retailers, some mellow reggae musicians, a poet and a few homeless veterans who had a lot of interesting stories to tell. Everyone usually stayed there for at least three or four hours, nursing their one cup of coffee and nibbling on a pastry. Money was still very tight for most people. The coffee shop was over-priced, but the customers enjoyed the music. The ambiance was nice.
He remarked to himself that he hadn’t seen some of his old buddies and colleagues for a long, long time. 2013 sure looked and felt a hell of a lot different from 2006. A lifetime ago. Back then, they were all starting to feel the pinch of a tanking economy. One by one, his friends dropped out of the consulting scene. A few went bankrupt. Some divorced. Others had left the state and even the country. A few had died. There were several guys who seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. He decided to check his LinkedIn, to see if they had made any status updates.
He fired up his computer and, after an annoying few minutes, was able to sign on to his LinkedIn. “The Wi-Fi is really slow in this coffee shop,” he mumbled. He clicked on some of his connections and what he read made him throw his head back and laugh out loud. One of his engineering friends wrote, under “Current Job:” … “Something Entirely Different.”
As he scrolled down, he noticed that most of them were doing something entirely different. And he was no exception. That’s the nature of the beast. When the economy tanks and stays tanked for such a long time, you either sink or swim. You hope for the best, but plan for the worst. It’s called Plan B. The interesting thing is that sometimes “Plan B” turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
He started moving his leg to the music. It was an old reggae song by Frighty & Colonel Mite. The title, Life (Is What You Make It).”
(PS: Seriously, this was truly the actual song that was playing!)
Excerpt/vignette “Coffee Shop Jive” (pp. 104-105) from Casualties of the (Recession) Depression. Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.
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Image (at very top) via visagemobile.com.