Bantering with the dudes behind the counter at Atlantis means I can banter with the hot chicks behind the counter and not seem like a creep. Balance.
It’s not superficial. Carl and I have had some deep conversations. We even hugged once (in a manly way). Ryan’s great for light witty exchanges. He and his girlfriend just had a baby and since I’ve been there, I can pass on fatherly advice. Eric and I took a class together and wander through the same circle of creatures.
I’m not quite at that level with the girls. Most of the ones I got to know have moved on. Katy’s fun. Saw her in O’Hanlon’s the other night and I gave her a hug. She even invited me into the back room once to fix the internet. Sara’s nice, but just doesn’t seem that interested chit chatting. Abby owns the place and she’s just happy I’m a regular. The others I can make laugh, but I don’t even know their names.
I do keep it brief. They’re working and are more or less forced to talk to me if no one’s around. Conversations are like a game of catch. You throw and the other person receives. If they throw the ball back, it’s an invitation to play. Back and forth you go like that until it’s time to get onto something else. I find it’s always better to leave the game early, ensuring they’ll want to play another time.
I realize how lame it seems to be cataloguing my coffee shop relationships in this way. I would worry about anyone who breaks the nature of their relationships down like that. I mean, from there it would not be a great leap to expect this same person to be storing his urine in jars, or cheering for the Stampeders or something. I don’t do either.
As a writer it’s important to pay attention to these things. It’s also important to understanding coffee shop protocol, lest you be shunned from the place. Most people know these things subconsciously. Making a conscious effort to unravel these types of human interactions makes my writing better. It also makes me more of a social retard.
I get wrapped up in these cause/effect loops. Why am I talking to you? What do I want out of the exchange? Am I having fun? Does this make me a creep?
Sometimes it’s just betting not to ask.