8.27.2013

AC Comfort at Barriques

The air conditioning at Barriques felt amazingly good as I came in from the muggy heat of the day around lunchtime on Tuesday August 27. I had biked the short distance from work and was on the verge of breaking a sweat by the time I arrived at the coffee shoppe, dressed as I was in a short sleeved business casual button down work shirt, shorts, and sandals.

I ordered a veggie wrap and a small soy iced mocha from the terse barrista, a stocky blonde guy who was clearly fighting a strong compulsion to be surly. He was one of those people who is ill at ease with social interaction and objects to it passive aggressively with a standoffish demeanor and an overly formal tone of voice for a customer service employee. The whole interaction compelled me with a strong desire to terminate the business interaction as expediently as possible, no doubt the intention of this burly barrista.

I don't normally buy an iced mocha unless I have enough points on my Belly rewards card, honored at Barriques, to procure a free drink (50 total rewards points). However, on a warm humid day like today, it seemed appropriate and desirable.

I took a seat on the faux leather couches next to the now cold fireplace that warms this particular outpost of the Barriques franchise during the colder months of the year, which will be upon us soon enough.

Two men, corporate yuppie types, sat nearby, conversing in voices just loud enough to seem as if they were purposefully trying to draw attention to themselves. They were talking about their moderate success in day trading, then the conversation shifted to gambling, essentially the same thing as far as I was concerned. I focused on eating my veggie wrap and tried to ignore their discussion completely, notwithstanding the invasive volumes of their voices. I did not want to give them any sign that I knew or cared what they were talking about, lest the gratification of having an eavesdropper should motivate them to continue their blather. I had almost as much interest in their topic of conversation as I do about sports, which is to say, less than nil.

I used to feel anxiety when people would talk about sports around me. I did not want to seem ignorant or less of a man because I did not follow sports of any kind. Once I realized that following sports is kind of an insecurity of its own, a need to belong to a group, I got over that. Now when people try to engage me in conversations about sports, I shut them down immediately, telling them I don't follow sports and have no interest in it. This is usually followed by a few moments of awkwardness as the other person realizes the only possible common topic of conversation has been vaporized. People feel a nervous compulsion to talk to strangers they are forced to socialize with against their will. Not content to remain silent, "the sport" is often a topic in common between people who don't know one another. However, I am completely ignorant of most sports and I like to let my fellow strangers know right away that this will not be an acceptable subject area for conversation, and if they have nothing else, then quietude will do just fine. I am quite secure in my disinterest in sports and my ability to carry on no conversation whatsoever.

Joe

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