It’s like I’m the bizarro universe Maria Von Trapp of social niceties. Of course, being the bizarro universe, my song would be about a few of my least favorite things.
Take this morning and my coffee excursion with The Silver Fox. Actually, yesterday’s as well.
Our coffee game has changed quite a bit over the last six months. We had been going to Nossa Familia and then the gym, kinda on the fly. Then BlackRock opened its sassy new Pearl location just down the block, serving what it calls coffee. An offering that pales in comparison to the quality – and general palatability – at Nossa, but it was cheaper and had seating, so The Fox loved it. I would get my Nossa and join him at BlackRock before the gym.
Then our combined injuries as well as the wear and tear of life in general kind of sidelined both of our gym-going activities, so we just had coffee and unconsciously found routes to and from that avoided passing the gym.
Alas, BlackRock sold out or something that signaled an impending and imminent change that drove The Fox to declare he would once again be joining me at Nossa.
I suggested we try the new cafe a block away. We did a walk by, only to discover that they were going to be serving Nossa.
We had a new place.
Conveniently located right next door to our favorite watering hole – Big Legrowlski. It was the third business to open in this space in two years, with two additional ventures collapsing before even getting open.
The corner spot may be cursed.
Or just poorly timed.
The hotel behind my condo is almost finished and slated to be open by the end of summer. There’s also a new apartment building nearing completion within line of sight of both the new coffee house – f&b is its name – and Big Legrowlski.
That’s about 300 potential daily customers, even the original coffee shop could have made it then if only they could have held out another year. I think the Oregon Table restaurant would have been doomed, regardless…there must have been some fairly shallow pockets involved since it imploded after a month amid complaints that employees weren’t being paid or given their tips.
But now we have f&b.
I like the occasional breakfast burrito or sandwich I have had. The coffee is cheaper than the same at Nossa, and nearby. That makes both The Fox and I happy…even if what they call cold brew coffee is just wrong.
They are brewing super extracted coffee over ice. That’s not cold brew, but Americans are dumb and would only get confused if the cafe tried to actually explain the difference between cold brew and iced coffee to customers who just want the <ahem> hot new coffee craze and wouldn’t even stop in for a passé iced coffee.
The irony is that iced coffee often tastes more like the shit these coffee neophytes have grown accustomed to at their local Charbucks.
But, all that being said, f&b is a nice, conveniently located place for The Fox and I to hang out on my off mornings and catch up with each other and the goings-on in the world.
Here’s the deal, though…this corner space is probably just too much square footage for a coffee house to sustain.
It’s definitely too many seats for one barista to handle. While the single operator set up works fairly well with the typical transient traffic of a local coffee shop, on the occasion that a few travelers stop in for breakfast in addition to the normal grab and go coffee crowd the single barista set up gets overwhelmed pretty quick-like.
They recover pretty well, though. Cookie will help catch up by running the food orders out as he completes them.
What probably won’t work for them – and why I’m beginning to feel run out, once again – is the sheer number of tables that they’ve tried to put into the place.
There’s about four eight-foot tables on the two exterior perimeter walls, for the occasional larger group. If two even happen to show up simultaneously, they can still put some distance between themselves so they aren’t sitting on top of one another.
Of course, the de rigueur bare cement floors are going to create a noise environment like you’re dining on the floor of the NYSE, but we all seem to be accepting that noise pollution.
Because cement floors are cool.
But the issue I realized today was the field of two-top tables that is set up on the central main seating area.
I think there’s 12.
Three rows of four tables each. Or four rows of three tables, depending on where you’re standing, I suppose.
Yesterday and today The Fox and I sat at the sidewalk tables because a group of six to eight young college kids from the apartments upstairs were in “our spot” and it’s just too noisy for us to chat with that many other people talking.
Especially the way kids talk.
Both days we moved inside after they went back up to their rooms.
I was never that young.
I’m willing to table hop to manage my own tolerance of the at-large public’s general lack of self-awareness, I figure that’s my responsibility: managing my own happiness.
But I think two moves is plenty.
This morning, a group of five business people walked in after we’d moved back inside. They ordered and then straggled into the field of two-tops as they were served their drinks.
Whatever – I thought – you’ll all fit at one of the perimeter tables.
As three of them started pulling tables together, I saw them debating whether they needed two or three together. They settled on three and the five of them sat down.
The Fox and I looked at each other like our time was up.
Personally, I was mentally grinding my molars. Pissed that of all the tables to choose from to form their eight-top island, they’d pulled the tables in the center row together.
I wasn’t sure if we were getting a big “Fuck everyone else” from the group or if they were just that stupid. What I did know was that their group grew by a couple more as I hit the sidewalk and I thought that they actually needed another table.
Ya like the way I just assumed they could only be rude or stupid?
It’s true and not.
America survived the Me Generation by winking at the problem of selfishness in the 80s.
Then the Me Generation had kids.
Parenting was still largely about them.
Kids were accessories.
Raised to extend the parent’s – or parents’, heck…some 80smarriages worked – ego bubble versus being taught how to interact with the world. Reared by reward instead of being educated in how to earn your way and behave in society.
“I didn’t accomplish all of my life goals, but I had a kid that will be better than anyone else’s kid!”
If you look around, you can see examples of this. You can hear parents talking about what they provided for their kids and then also used to punish them without context. It was all cause and effect without the training in critical thinking that would provide their offspring with the foundation for successfully existing independent of that subverted reward system.
Maybe I’m jaded, but is that angry dad in the bleachers angry because his kid is being cheated or because if his kid loses them he is – by extension – a loser, too.
Like I said, maybe I’m jaded…but these are the behaviors that I question. Sadly, the only people who can actually answer – or solve – the behaviors I tend to question are those Me Generation refugees who never learned the art of introspection because the Me Generation was, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, “deeply superficial” with little regard for what was going on underneath its very veneer.
Well, those kids are in their 20s now and clueless as to how to navigate their lives. You can see some of them drifting now that they aren’t serving as the missing sense of pride and accomplishment in their parents’ lives. Without that purpose, they’ve got to figure out what the point is in their existence. And they have to figure it out without the ability to think critically that I mentioned earlier.
I see it in applicants and employees, not just on my team. I also see it in my life as a consumer…there’s a couple of bartenders at Big Legrowlski that will turn me around at the door because they have shitty interpersonal skills. I enjoy tipping well, but it’s a gratuity. These bartenders I’m referring to behave as if the tip is their entitlement for mumbling, “What can I get you” in a fashion that sounds more like a begrudging “What do you want?” as if I’m a bother.
So, that’s what is going through my brain as I leave f&b this morning.
It’s got so much in its plus column: a barista that’s fairly engaging and pleasant; good product; good prices – well, on coffee…$3.25 for a toasted and buttered bagel is still ridiculous; and, it’s conveniently located.
And it’s only negative – too much square footage – while the cause of the previous coffee shop’s failure, seems survivable for f&b simply because of timing…but will continue to haunt them because their customers see a big space and think, “MINE!” instead of being trained to be considerate of anyone else who may want to patronize the establishment.
With that type of lack of awareness, should I be surprised that Donald Trump was elected on a platform of America First?
No. No, I should not.
But I am watching to see how well our country and millennial generation learns their missing childhood lessons.
Being considerate of others.
Earning what you get.
Appreciating what you have.
That last one is my personal lesson lately, but that’s another blog.