Java Journals pt 5- “The Zone Interrupter”

 

Part 5 of a 7 part series documenting my various encounters during coffee shop visits of 2016. Find Part 1, part 2 , part 3, or part 4 here

Okay, I’ll admit it; I have a weird personality contradiction on occasion. On one hand, I’m typically easy-going and enjoy a popcorn style of conversation that heads further down the rabbit trail than towards the main point. On the other hand, when I work on written projects, I enter a black hole zone of fierce focus, and secretly wish it was socially acceptable to stamp a “do not disturb” sign on my forehead; interrupters be warned.

October 2016 6:50 am

On one of the first brisk mornings of the season,  I clutched a steamy holiday spiced drink and felt nearly giddy about the hour of creativity ahead. To combat the demands of my full schedule later in the day, I had intentionally carved out a block of much needed uninterrupted writing time. With a notebook on one side and coffee cup on the other, I opened my laptop and dove in. My concentration didn’t last long, however, as 10 minutes later, someone sauntered up to the table without me noticing him.  “Yo. You cool if I sit here?” He asked. Involuntarily, I gasped. Now, I like to think of my acute startle response as a sign of advanced reflexes which will help me survive a zombie apocalypse, or win the hunger games; but most of the time it’s just embarrassing. “Uh, sure.” I said, slightly flustered, “go ahead.” He wore a lanyard name tag from a local community college and looked like he probably competed in the shot-put event of track and field.

My eyes couldn’t help but scan the numerous vacant tables surrounding us; I was not in the mood for small talk with strangers. He, on the other hand, most definitely was. Acting as casually as though we had planned to study together, he plopped down in the chair directly next to me and turned into a pitching machine of questions. “Are you having a good day?  What are you working on? Are you a doctor? Are you in school? Is that a caramel macchiato?” Random inquiries pelted me like nerf gun bullets and I experienced a taste of my own curiosity medicine—just at the wrong hour. Attempting to focus again, I adjusted my glasses. “Are you like–really smart?” He asked. I shrugged, “Ehh. Not really. I just look smart.” As to where this odd response came from, I don’t know, but I took it as a sign to begin planning my exit. Thankfully the exit strategies turned out to be unnecessary, as seconds later, the barista came to the rescue. She called out his drink, and to my relief, he had ordered “to-go.”

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