Just to sit and sip

Today I went to a coffee shop with my laptop to write.

There was just over a dozen customers in the cafe, some writing, studying, reading. Conversing. The usual, well-traversed cafe visitors.

One person stood out as I looked up in between paragraphs.

A man, likely in his 50s (though tough to ascertain on appearance alone). He wore a maroon t-shirt and cargo khaki pants. He sat alone at a table, had already been occupying it when I arrived, still there two hours later. He’d ordered and sipped at two different beverages in the time since I’d arrived.

He had not a book in hand, or a pen, or a phone or notebook. Nothing to read or write. No one sitting across to talk to.

Just stared straight ahead; occasionally sat with eyes closed, perhaps listening or meditating. I did not hear him speak to order his second drink.

There’s simple assumptions that I made: that he can hear, that he speaks English, that he prefers to be alone. That he likes people, that he likes coffee, that he is wealthy and spends all his days here. But these are all broad and based on personal experience and expectations, not on any gathered evidence or conversation.

Out of all of the customers in the cafe, this man stands out to me. Does that say more about me than him? That I found his sitting alone, without a book or a pen, to be interesting? How is that abnormal? Why do I think that is abnormal and not just, y’know, natural?

There are also judgments based on assumptions: that he is lonely, that he likes to be alone. But he’s also around people.

Perhaps he does live alone, but prefers to surround himself with people just to feel a part of things.

Or maybe he just likes the drinks and it doesn’t matter that he’s alone, not reading, not studying, not writing or doing a crossword puzzle.

Perhaps, to feel complete, he just likes to sit among people and feel the air tremor from the populace; for a short time every day recognizing that the society around him, the community, is family.

There’s a thousand reasons he could be sitting alone in a public cafe, and none of them really matter. This is just an observation of a person I found interesting as I was at the cafe today.

Perhaps he looked at me the same way: why does this guy sit with a computer, sipping coffee, instead of just sitting and watching, listening, learning. Why does this guy write out his thoughts instead of thinking about them?

Why does Joe not just sit and sip?


Their three voices rang out in a gross harmony throughout the coffee shop, to the minor annoyance of some, and to the utter shock and disappointment of Leo. He walked straight to their table, disgusted at the shouting sirens, and told them, no, yelled at them, to go back where they came from.

Everyone else was in shock, but nobody interrupted as the sirens screeched all the way out the door and back to their island.

The Random Videos Guy


The other day, I was sitting in a cafe and watched as an older man, had to be at least 50, taped up a sign that was rather lengthy. He applied a large amount of packing tape to the sign so one could read it and the wind wouldn’t blow the sign away. As he did this, a cigarette dangled from his lips. The process took so long I wanted to walk over to him and tap out the ash that hung at the edge of his cigarette. It was annoying.

His hands shook as he taped up the sign, and when he was finished, he picked up his bottle of water from the ground and shuffled off with more signs under his arm. I could barely perceive his hand shaking as he finally removed the cigarette from his mouth.

I read the sign through the window, and in summation his car was broken into, someone had stolen a computer. He was asking for the person to return the computer or at least the video footage that was on it. “NO questions asked, reward for return of computer.” That was all he was asking for.

I saw this man again yesterday morning, in the same cafe, wearing the same white t-shirt and jeans. He was inside only briefly, purchased a coffee and sat for a few minutes. His sign is no longer outside, I wonder if someone returned the computer, but also, I’m very curious to know what the video footage is. Obviously it’s very personal to him, very important. Could be a movie he made, a personal pet project, that he’s spent a lot of money on and is trying to finish.

Could be something incriminating he’s worried the police will find.

A larger part of me roots for the man, and thinks the footage is of some personal family gathering, perhaps the final footage of a recently lost family member that the man had yet to export onto a CD or other means, and he just needs it back. For all of the cynical things the footage could be including, I prefer to think of something positive or more meaningful.

It’s getting tougher to think of things in the world positively, but we have to try, I suppose.

Cheers, have a great day, make some memories with your phones, cameras, computers, etc., but also some personal moments that are just for you and your mind that you won’t need a device to use to reflect on them. If you were to lose all of your material items tomorrow, what would you think back on first, and most fondly?