Thursday, May 03, 2007

Smile At People. Talk To People

I love people. I enjoy talking with folks from any background (as long as they are respectful and have an open mind). Different political views, religious beliefs, various ethnic origins and a schmorgesborg of interests are what make the world so fascinating. Your spirit comes alive when you meet another human being with whom you can have a captivating discussion.

Yet so many walk through life in a protective shell. People try to insulate themselves from others. No eye contact. No smile. No hint of joy in their soul. YUCK.

This morning in Starbucks I sat reading a book. From time to time I would watch the urban professionals roll through to get their daily caffeine fix. I am a regular in the coffee shop, thus I often would see a friendly face and get a familiar smile. Many who know me will exchange a few words. Beyond that, few of the patrons make any effort to notice those around them.

"Tall decaf, room for cream". "Grande extra shot non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte". "Venti zebra mocha with extra whip cream". The Starbuck's has it's own language which all the citizens speak fluently. But they only speak with the bartistas. Few will acknowledge that others are in the store. They fall into line and try to be invisibly lost in their own world.

The younger folks have iPods blaring in their ears, just to be sure that they do not have to interact with any other people.

I believe the world was different 100 years ago. My fantasy is that people talked to each other in the coffeehouses of yesterday. They did not live their lives behind invisible fences of the mind, but instead ran free with each other in stimulating conversation. Maybe I am wrong. Perhaps it was always like it is today.

If you ever see me sitting at the Starbucks at 5th and Lamar in Austin, feel free to smile and say hello. I am easy to recognize, as I am the person who is smiling at you.

Have A Great Day.


kbaffoni said...

Thought I'd check out what you've been writing and I really liked this one. I know people talked more to each other years ago. And, I think there still are places where people take the time to talk and be friendly. Wish that was more the rule than the exception where we live.

Scott said...

Well said folks! I have a similar issue with the issue of the "smile" although I'm not sure if there ever was any good old days.

I am intereted in a similar thing and that is Small Talk - check this out on my blog

Great blog folks!

Anonymous said...

I don't think people talked to each other any more in the old days. It's merely a nostalgic memory.

Exchanging smiles and nods, perhaps occasionally striking a conversation - that's all one might expect in a coffeehouse type setting. Have you considered that many who go there are probably either kind of in a hurry on their way somewhere else or looking for some quiet time?

Thom Singer said...


You bring up some good points. Yes, maybe it is merely a nostalgic wish that people used to be friendly.

Additionally, it is true that folks some folks are most likely in a hurry or looking for "quiet time"...but if EVERYONE in our culture in in a rush, what does that say about our society?

Finally, you bring up another example of the tone people use when they can be annonymous. Your last sentence is sort of harsh, and implies maybe I am a fool compared to you and that your opinion is a tad bit superior. Would you have used that tone if you had put your name and email? Most likely not. In this internet world being annonymous allows people to be even colder and more harsh than those in a hurry or looking for "quiet time" in a coffeehouse!

But I digress (I usually do not allow annonymous comments anymore, because of the high and mighty tone in most...but your overall points are good and useful to the discussion. My question is "Is it better or worse for people to just shut out the world in public...or are people missing opportunities to connect with eachother by not being open to meeting and talking with others???" Next time please use a real name or you post could vanish into the digital waste land).


Bryan Menell said...

I wonder how often you are at Starbucks at 5th & Lamar and I'm at Seattle's Best just across the corner. I know Starbucks owns Seattle's Best, but I'm a sucker for free wi-fi.

Good observations.