By Chris Fleming
My apartment is full of toys, or what I like to call “Man-Gadgets.” Whether it be an X-Box, i-Pod, TV, laptop or nose-hair trimmers, I am easily distracted in the confines of my own home. These dastardly distractions hinder my writing process, forcing me to find a workspace outside of the domicile.
Last summer, I decided the local Heine Brother’s was the perfect habitat to write my articles. Twice a week, I commandeer a wooden table with a 16 oz. “Coffee of the Day” and churn out literary notions while listening to the latest Barista music mix.
Through repeat visits, I’ve become familiar with the many facets of cafe culture. For example, the massive amount of “first dates” that litter the shop on Fridays, the gobs of teenagers who loiter but never purchase a beverage, and the stressed-out college students on the tenth cup of Joe, studying for midterms.
Other than the fact that the coffee is delicious, the culture is definitely part of the attraction, and a primary reason for cafe popularity. Likewise, I feel that I have contributed to the culture, being “that writer who observes others in the coffee shop.” I have also cultivated my own cafe phenomenon: the conditional friendship.
I consistently share space with many other customers, but for one customer in particular I have fostered a “coffee conditional” friendship. She is a college student, constantly studying and gorging on stimulants, which I highly respect. During intermittent work breaks, we have formed a friendship that exists only inside Heine Brothers’, and I am slightly pleased with this condition. During our intervals, we share ideas, stories, jokes and philosophies.
Another great part about this conditional friendship is that the condition allows us to focus on the true essence of friendship: great social interaction.
Human beings spend a lot of time trying to keep friendships intact, sometimes at the detriment of fulfillment – attending useless parties, hanging out with useless people, spending money uselessly ... all for the sake of appeasing our friends.
What if you put conditions on some friendships? With conditions set, no longer will the focus reside on appeasement, and no disappointment will be rendered due to high expectations. For example, if you are not really into Pampered Chef parties, calmly explain to your new friend, “We can go see movies together, but don’t expect me to come to Pampered Chef parties – not saying that you will have one, but it is just a condition I cannot budge on.” Your friend accepts this and doesn’t invite you to the parties, you feel no pressure to attend them, and everything is right in the world.
You probably figure this notion silly, but honestly, all relationships are conditional – we often only discover the conditions when our expectations are not met. Knowing the true essence of a relationship dissolves these expectations – or better yet, not placing high expectations on human beings at all would suffice (message!)
My coffee compadre and I always have a fun and relaxing time at the local Heine Brothers’. I attribute this to the established conditions set in place, allowing us to enjoy each other’s company ... and not think beyond the door of the cafe.