On sipping coffee with strangers
On what seemed a pleasant midsummer's afternoon I sipped a grande dark roast with room at a neighborhood Starbucks–the one nearest Office Depot, since that would be my next stop. I was working on piecing together a writing sample for a job interview. Dressed casually with my hair in a half-bun (more like a skater girl would tie and less-so the kind you'd find on a dancer), I enjoyed whatever caffeine surge my beverage had to offer, and also the subtle one I received with every inhale at this quaint, professional establishment. Although in my own little world, I was far from alone while seated at a large table with strangers carefully staggered to allow some elbow room.
After lunchtime the crowd had settled a bit, but I barely noticed. Out of the corner of my eye I watched a middle-aged gentleman approach slowly from the sofas near the corner window. As he inched closer, I thought, Nah, he's not coming to sit here. And then he sat down.
"That couch was so uncomfortable, I felt like I was sinking!" the man spoke as he wrapped a messenger bag around the empty chair across from me.
I knew he was talking to me since by now I was the only one left seated at my table for ten. He proceeded to pull out a bright orange book. I smiled in an attempt to acknowledge his comment without adding to it.
I'm in the clear. He brought a book.
Back to my writing sample. I continued writing, and typing. Writing and typing.
"I see you're quite busy" he observed aloud.
"You guessed it," I replied. "I'm preparing for an interview tomorrow."
He turned quiet again as my keyboard clicked.
patient and kind.
woman or bonobo?
both can teach us much
(if we get to know them).
"If you're looking for a good book to read—" he chimed in again, angling his hardbound copy of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F* toward me slightly.
"I already read that one," I admitted.
Surprised, and unsure how to counter, the gentlemen simply asked what I thought of it. I let him know my thoughts in the most concise way possible (i.e. "I enjoyed it.") and immediately resumed my typing and writing ritual.
"I'm Harry," he introduced, with an extended arm. "I just had to get away from the office for a while."
"Hello, Harry," I said politely and went back to my task.
After a few more uninvited exchanges Harry finally prepared to leave, only he parted with a real kicker: "I think we should go out for a drink."
Dude, we just met! We're at Starbucks and you don't even know my name! There's a guy sitting a few feet away from me, do you really want me to hand out a rejection in front of him right now?
"We're having a drink right now," I laughed while trying to appear somewhat coy. Seemingly relentless, he started pulling out a cell phone.
Quick! What fake number can you come up with to the spot? It can't begin with 555, that's too obvious. Think fast! A local area code, for sure, then just make up the rest.
...But I'm an Aries! I don't always think well on my feet when under pressure!...
I must have grown a few ram's horns after my short yet significant internal freak-out, since I was able to muster up the following (and what I thought to be a kick-ass statement): "Sorry, Harry, I'm not interested in going out for a drink, but if ever I see you at Starbucks again, I'll be sure to say hi."
Wow! That was great! Soft, yet direct. You go girl!
But I only felt proud for a minute, because Harry wasn't finished.
"So you have a boyfriend?" he asked.
Warning: Rejection approaching.
(The guy asked for it.)
"Actually, I'm just not interested."
Stefan Kuhnigk, from Hamburg, Germany is a copywriter by day, but a coffee stain artist by morning. Like most of us, Stefan spilled a cup of coffee once. Unlike most of us, he saw a monster hiding in the depths of his stain which he decided needed to be drawn. Today Stefan has a collection of over 500 coffeemonsters. Pictured above is "Monster 403."
You can read more of his story and view more monsters on his website: https://thecoffeemonsters.com/.
(You can also purchase the Coffeemonsters book!)