I am sitting in Starbucks here in Ojai. This has become my unofficial “office” for my students who I see via Zoom. Our internet at our orange grove can be spotty at times, so I am getting to know the Starbucks workers since I show up and stay for several hours at a time. We aren’t on a first-name basis yet, but I am struck by what a happy and hardworking group they are. They appear to genuinely like each other, chatting and laughing when they’re not busy and calling out goodbye as they finish their staggered shifts. It’s nice to see such a nice level of camaraderie, which spans a wide range of ages from teenagers all the way to a few people who look like this is a post-retirement job.
Often there are only a few people with computers sitting alone at tables. They, like me, look as if they need a strong internet connection. They too have a single cup of tea or coffee in front of them, the price required to linger for a while. This late afternoon, however, there are no other people with computers, but rather several tables occupied by two-three people who have clearly gathered to spend time with one another and chat. I hear both English and Spanish, lots of spirited conversation, and occasional bursts of laughter. The workers, in contrast, are quietly restocking and cleaning since almost everyone in here has already purchased their drinks.
I’m glad to have a comfortable and welcoming place to come and work. That is most helpful as we work out the kinks with our internet. I have a favorite corner seat that is separate from other people at the tables. That way I don’t disturb them when I talk quietly to my students through my headphones.
I am done with my students for the day and will soon head back to the grove. In the next day or so, I will return to LA and to our much more reliable internet there. I won’t be seeing my Starbucks “friends” until sometime next week. Maybe at that point, I’ll start asking them their names.
Happy Friday to all. I hope you have a lovely and restful evening. After all, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!
Here’s the view from my vantage point.