September 24, 2018

Sometimes It’s Fun To Not Go Out Very Much Because Of The Way Things Look When You Do

Okay, I admit it:  I don’t get out very much.  And, I am sure, this must have many deleterious implications for myself as a social being (there may be, possibly, positive implications as well, I just can’t think of any right now).  Anyway, so I found myself in the outdoor court of Starbucks at the Baneasa Mall parked, so to speak, for what I know will be a very good chunk of time while my Significant Other undertakes her bi-monthly Grand Tour of shops and things inside the Mall.

The first thing I did was curse myself for not thinking of bringing a book to accompany me through what I knew would be, at the very least, the next hour (if I were lucky).  The next thing I did was to notice that no one else in the courtyard was talking to anyone else.  For those of you who haven’t been, the Baneasa Starbucks Courtyard is rather large – about 12-15 very large umbrellas cover spaces for about 100 people, with more spaces outside the tent-like canopy.  Although not quite packed, there was a good crowd of people, and they were all not talking to each other.

I thought at first that this might just be a fallow period, an ebb in the conversational flow, like at sports events when the crowd gets quiet for a time after being feisty and before they get feisty again.  But, no, through the 20 minutes of my first cappuccino and croissant there were no “outbreaks” of conversation or other clues that any of these people were even remotely familiar with each other.  And, in fact, in my remaining time at Starbucks it became like a game to me, like those silly games children play in cars on long trips, to see if I could spot the first serious attempt at conversation, or guess at the candidates most likely to lift their eyes from their screens and begin speaking.  I thought I had my first winners when four teenage boys, dressed like urban criminals, took a table near me.  But, no, as soon as they were seated they each took out, and were individually consumed by, their own devices, occasionally articulating something funny happening on their screens by giggling, comradely elbowing a mate, and letting him see on his screen what he thought to be humorous.  My other prime pick also turned out to be a bust.  I spotted him on the far side of the court and he seemed, to me, to be in the same situation as me.  He looked as if he had been deposited on his bench by his mate, and it was his lot to wait until she returned.  He not only had head phones inserted, but was intensely focused on the pad he held in his hands.  As it turned out I was half right.  His mate turned up all right and after depositing her packages on the bench opposite him went for her own coffee.  When she returned he took out his head phones – no, he took out one of his head phones – and said something to her, briefly.  When she, briefly, replied, he put back in the headphone and she took out her device so that they each could either continue or begin their respective, solitary, digital quest.

It went on like that throughout my stay, until just before my wife came for me, it suddenly seemed so comical.  It was like I had landed on some unfamiliar planet, or that I was among aliens who hadn’t learned how to talk or speak to each other and could only communicate through mechanical devices.  And, I started giggling at the outrageous thought of it.  Actually, it must have been more than giggling, since I saw several people look in my direction.  And it occurred to me what I must look like to them, the digital citizens of today.  And it also occurred to me that it was me who was the alien, not them.  But, as I say, I don’t get out much.

Copyright picture: New Yorker magazine

Add on the pressures of essay writing on nature dealing with young people facing the challenges of growing up, and you have a profession which is not for the faint-hearted


  1. pbloom says:

    You’re definitely getting old. Don’t go out much, stuck in time remembering Goethe, Faust and the 60′s, where everyone was stoned or drunk. Hell, we never talked to each other then.. we just groped and fondled and moved partners around. No headsets, no starbucks, nothing but good old 60′s counter rev.

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