If there is some label I can definitely call myself (besides "pink with yellow pokadots"), it would be "Coffeeshop Hobo." More specifically (especially now that they are providing free internet), I am quite a Starbucks hobo / addict. It's a ritual now. It's like I need a two-dollar cup of coffee to start the day as fresh, a blank slate (and then 3 refills throughout the day to survive). I do not have much passion for advertising with corporations, but if there was one project I would be proud to do, it would be to travel across the country, coffeeshop hopping from one coffeehouse to the next (predominantly Starbucks) and engage in random conversations with random people, write about them, photograph about them, cartoon about them, film them, etcetera... and perhaps, much like Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie," I could capture the American Experience... embedding the eccentricities of my personal life (not like it's anything special, but I have been contracted to give these top secret aliens an Environmental Impact Report so that they can figure out an optimal human-environmental management plan for a place and a people that can't seem to manage themselves).
Starbucks is probably the most prominent aspect of my life where the corporate ambiance and personal sphere mesh and tightly intertwine.
July 17, 2010 ~ The reason why I'm starting the Coffeeshop Hobo blog entry now is because I just had a random experience with a random person that transformed my day from ordinary to touching and unusual. I walked into a Starbucks in Escondido, and there was an elder man in a wheelchair (I think some level of motor defects, but he was still quite functional) who said hello right-off-the-bat (usually I don't interact with random customers in Starbucks) and made a huge effort to buy me a coffee refill (a whole 50 cents!). I was touched, and then he said I was pretty (uhmmm... awkward moment), and we shook hands. Jimmy (so he told me his name, and visa versa) hopes that I come by a little more often, as he was escorted by his sister off into the barely tolerable heat of July. Talk about paying it forward.
It's strange, though Starbucks at first constructs a corporate mass-produced atmosphere with their chain stores, I still feel like this somehow creates opportunity to engage in random, yet very intimate interactions that would have never otherwise happened. I'm truly thankful for that. And it's strange how sometimes I am deeply craving for a random act of kind intervention, and other times I want to be completely left alone and not deal with people. Today I was more so in the "leave me alone" mode, so I wished I could have better appreciated the Jimmy's kindness more than I have. *Sigh*
The CoffeeShop Hobo (column on meeting random interesting people at the local coffeeshop, based on a North High School student's senior thesis: "I've learned more in one month just talking to random people at a coffeeshop than I have learned in all four years of my high school education!")