Last week I wrote a post about doing much of my research at Starbucks, but I didn’t really go into why I like to do my work there. That was partly because that post was long enough as it was, but it was also because I hadn’t really thought about it.
I like sitting in Starbucks is because a six year old little girl will come in with a pink scooter complete with pink umbrella dangling off one handle and a bright pink basket, featuring at least three Disney princesses and holding a baby doll dressed in pink with a pink pacifier hanging around its neck. And a bright pink bell. Can’t forget the bell.
I really like Starbucks because a young couple come in and the girl convinces the guy to buy her one of those cake pops, because she’s always wanted to try one. He thinks she’s weird, and loves her for it. Instead of buying just one, they buy two with the brightest sprinkles and toast each other before biting into the gooey mess and letting it crumble all over the table.
I really like sitting in Starbucks because an older man orders his Earl Grey tea and slowly makes his way over to a table. He sips it as if it were liquid gold while trying to complete that day’s crossword puzzle.
I like sitting in Strabucks because the man behind the counter looks at a young boy holding two sandwiches and says, “Would you like me to heat those for you, sir?” The boy draws himself up, feeling important because the man behind the counter called him sir. He looks for his father, who is getting napkins, then decides he can do this on his own and says, “Yes, please.” He hands the man his sandwiches as his father returns, confirming their desire to warm them up.
You might try to summarise this as ‘people watching’, but I would have to disagree with your premise. There’s isn’t one reason that encompasses ‘people watching’; each person is their own reason. Each person affects me in a different way, even if we never say a word.
By coming here and seeing these people (and interacting with some of them), I am in the midst of society, constantly reminded of its complexity and its simplicity, its similarities and its differences. And I’m reminded of why I love working in a branch of anthropology, studying humanity.
And when I’m watching humanity played out here in a Starbucks in whatever corner of the world I may find myself, there’s bound to be something that makes me smile.