Not far down the road from where I live, nestled in a small shopping center in Wildomar, is one of my favorite places to spend an hour, and where on most mornings, you’ll find me. Bean, my little neighborhood coffee shop, welcomes me with open arms, gathering me in, folding me into its warm embrace. It has an eclectic feel, much less commercialized than Starbucks. They offer all the fruity, foamy, icy drinks one would expect, but my cup of tea is the coffee, freshly roasted, ground and brewed, served up black, with no room for cream.
The coffee is excellent, but the atmosphere is the main draw for me. I enjoy the social aspect, even though I don’t socialize. I like the friendly buzz of conversation, the people, some talking among themselves, others sitting alone with a laptop or notebook, fingers flying across the keys, most likely students from one of the local colleges doing an assignment or preparing for an upcoming test.
Across the room, two mothers quietly converse, enjoying a brief moment of calm from what might be a normal, hectic day. Two young children play at their feet, occupied with one toy or another, bothering no one. At a nearby table, a would-be employer is conducting a job interview, in a much more relaxed setting than one is accustomed to seeing. To me, that speaks volumes about the company he represents.
Occasionally, as though by common consent, the chatter dies momentarily, and the quiet sound of music can be heard, Michael Bublé, singing a Frank Sinatra song. It’s busy this morning, seating is at a premium, and a sharp eye and quick reflexes are a must if you wish to grab a just vacated seat, still warm from the previous occupant. As the buzz increases to a normal level, I look about the room, and knowing no one, still feel a sense of connection.
The little coffee shop feels like a bit of home. When I order my daily brew, few words are required. They know my preferences, what I like, and they serve it up with a smile. Standing at the counter, watching them work, I can tell that they enjoy what they do, the interaction with patrons, friends, being part of the connection.
Through the bustle, the relaxing background noise, the comings and goings, I can sit back, breathe in the aroma of my coffee, jot notes and observations into my tablet, on the chance that I might be able to use them in a story. Then I have to laugh at myself when I come to the realization that this is the story, and while some faces are different, some the same, the story will change as the cast of characters change. I like being part of the story, and as I look around at the people focused on their keyboards, I wonder if they too feel like a part of the story, or even by chance, are recording their own version of events.
My little coffee shop will be there tomorrow, as will I, as will most of us, taking a timeout from our busy lives to look around and see the things that matter.