Apparently there are two kinds of people who frequent coffee houses. There are those who go there to talk, and those who go there to get away. When I was in the coffee place this morning, four tables (besides my own) were occupied. I saw two examples of each type.
At one table, two teachers were gossiping about students. “Gossiping” is the wrong word, although if their dialogue were written as a radio script, it could have been read that way. It was obvious that these teachers were talking seriously about the way their students interacted. If they had just been talking, and not assessing relationships and resolving conflicts, it would have been gossip. Instead, because teachers really do care, it was good classroom management.
At another table two old men were talking about cars. Actually, it was one old man (and he was old enough that he knew he was old and wouldn’t have minded being described that way) and one younger man. And it was the older one who did all the talking. I heard talk of Fords and fan belts and flivvers, discussed just as seriously as if they were diagnosing and resolving. It all depends on where you’re coming from.
In the corner sat a woman with a stack of colored folders. She would take one at a time, open it, and write furiously on the pages inside. She did this methodically, one by one, going down through the stack and giving equal attention to each one. I began to wonder if this might be a school holiday, because here was another teacher, correcting papers. From the looks of them, term papers.
Opposite me was another woman with pen and paper, looking pensively into the abyss for a few moments and then writing something. Then looking, then writing. It could have been a letter, or a diary, or a novel she was working on. It was kind of a beautiful thing to see, but no more so than any of the other assorted humans in today’s assembly.