Part 1 of a 7 part series documenting my accounts of various coffee shop encounters during 2016.
Introduction: Why Java Journals?
I spent much of this last summer in and out of coffee shops across Sacramento county. Caught in the awkward limbo of post- graduation and pre-employment, I woke up every day with two objectives weighing on my mind: A) pass the physical therapy licensing exams and B) find a job. I would check my email first thing in the morning in hopes of finding a job offer reply, a score report, or a new opportunity on craigslist. While I sought to stay positive, sometimes I felt like that desperate lover character in the romantic tragedy movies who keeps checking their mailbox in the rain every day, but coming back empty handed.
With flash cards on my floor, and whiteboard markers rolling around my kitchen table, the home station study scene eventually grew a bit depressing. Thus I decided to treat studying and job searching like a regular job, and use local coffee shops as my “office.” That way—by defining a locational boundary—my mind would be able to distinguish between work and home. Coffee shops are a rather unusual place. We don’t always think of them as peculiar, but few other small spaces serve as a hub for business engagements, dates, artistry collaboration, heartfelt mentorship, study groups, and meet-ups for moms—all at once. Just like any other office culture, coffee shops contain a host of unique personalities. After a while, I never knew what to expect.
Encounter # 1, April 2016 “I’m not the blind date.”
When I walked into Starbucks that morning around 10 am, my eyes instinctively scanned the scene for the mentor I had come to meet. Instead, they met the gaze of a young man waiting in line. “Well, hello there.” He said in a rather welcoming tone. “How, are you?” He shot me a beaming smile—almost as though he had had been waiting for me—and I wondered if maybe this guy worked at Trader Joe’s. Not because I had ever seen him there before, but because he appeared to be a friendly bachelor male wearing a patterned collared shirt. “Oh, I’m doing pretty well,” I replied distractedly as I stared up into the menu board.
“So many options. Right? Do you have a go-to drink?” He asked. My go to? I wondered. For a stranger, this guy seemed oddly determined to keep the conversation going. “Hmm, I’ll probably go with an iced americano today,” I said. He nodded in earnest agreement. “Espresso. Classic. Me too.” An awkward pause hung in the air before his tone turned serious. “Well…our adventure begins.” He declared. Now I was confused. The adventure of what? Our coincidental shared caffeinated beverage preference? My wondering didn’t last long, however, as seconds later I received the answer. A young woman donned in a rather earthy assortment of clothing walked in waving eagerly in our direction. In a brief, but obvious, triangle of eye contact, the three of us looked at each other. He looked at her across the room, and then back at me, as though a club had hit him in the head. “Wait—you’re not Megan?” he asked. “Um, no…” I said, as everything finally started to make sense. “I’m Chrissa, but you guys enjoy the adventure!” And with that, I ordered my americano and found my mentor.
Stay tuned for part 2!
Note: Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes, but the stories remain the same.