Stealing from the coffee shop….REALLY???


~ Sunday I was typing away, working on a number of different papers, when a woman rushed over to my table at the coffee house, “Did you just see THAT?!” she said

Apparently, the one of the women sitting in the group of four middle aged women, who had been sitting next to me for the better part of two hours, left the coffee shop with a “BOOM”. She had walked over to the display case that shelves a bunch of café themed T-shirts and whatnot, grabbed a bunch of T-shirts, stuffed them under her jacket, and walked out of the café.

I was lost in my writing and hadn’t seen a thing, but the other patrons had all seen the theft, and since there are security cameras all over the place, it wasn’t difficult to identify the culprit responsible for the crime.

Most fascinating regarding the crime is the conversation that ensued afterwards. As with so many of my coffee house experiences, I was sitting there all by my lonesome doing my own thing, yet following the crime I now had three people who were congregating at my table which had become the center of conversation for the great coffee house caper of November 2014.

People want to connect. I’ve written ad nausea about the desire within our nature to connect with fellow human beings. Yet so many people simply don’t know how to strike up conversations with strangers; hell, a lot of people don’t even know how to strike up conversations with loved ones. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see a couple on a date, a married couple, or a parent and their child, sitting in silence not really knowing what to say to each other.

Conversation is fast becoming a lost art. Back in the days of The Culture Monk’s youth, my father was a big proponent of teaching his children how to talk. He would sit us in the living room and hold mock conversations; we had to pretend we were strangers meeting each other for the first time. My Uncle Bob used to say, “Practice, practice, practice; it’s not just for football players”.

Conflict can be a positive tool. The theft of the merchandise gave the people at coffee something to talk about. It opened them up to breaking the ice between my lonesome self-sitting there at coffee. I suspect there is a propensity within our nature to be afraid of conflict. After all, conflict isn’t always easy to navigate. But conflict can be a positive tool in learning how to talk in greater depth with each other.

Talking with our children, loved ones, and friends about conflicting situations and ideas can be a great way to begin having deeper conversations; it can help us to move beyond staring at our cell phones and engaging our fellow humans in meaningful conversation.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,


Categories: Culture & Society

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23 replies

  1. No wonder conflict often occurs in order to attract attentions.


  2. Or we could just ditch conflict and talk about the weather.

    So Kenneth, what’s it like over there? It’s been blistering hot in Lagos, Nigeria 😀

  3. Something about that situation broke down the walls between people. Was it excitement, fear, or just the unexpected? Whatever it was, it overpowered the status quo that kept people apart. Now, how do we use that to make connections?

  4. He wanted to get a long little doggy!

  5. While I agree that conversation is an art, and one that people should cultivate, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with sitting in silence. Sometimes, just being in the presence of another person is enough.

    Of course if the silence consists of staring into smartphones or feeling awkward, well that’s not exactly what I was talking about 😛

  6. “great coffee house caper of November 2014” – hahaha. 😉

    I totally agree with what you’re saying. I am sitting in my coffee house haunt now, and I regularly chat with the older men here that read the newspaper on a daily basis. I really enjoy it. I think I have a safe face, so I get chatted up quite regularly! The other day this older woman and I had a lovely chat about what books we liked to read. When she got off, I had a huge smile on my face. I blogged about the importance of talking one time, too, about how it’s the basis of reducing war and national conflict. As Stephen Hawking said:

    “It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need to do, is make sure we keep talking.”

  7. Yes ! Yes to all of those – I think recently j heard a study was done of my city that said we were the healthiest and most isolated urban population…So we just tend to angrily sip our overtly green liquid and dig our head in the phones at the coffee shop, the gym, groceries.. Anything. Its strange even being someone who has learned to start conversations , it seems even plain old compliments are now ruled futile haha. But strange incidents are certainly the best of the best – to see a mouse running across the marble mall floor and find a common comment ? Damn if someone doesn’t at least open up enough for that .

  8. Hey Kenneth, this Uncle Bob really had an impact on you eh. Gotta love Uncle Bob.

  9. It only takes a spark to start the fire.
    Uncle Bob must be a spark challenge for you too 🙂

  10. Your family life sounds interesting.

  11. I really admire your ability to see that situation from alternative perspectives. I wish someone had helped me practice conversations!

  12. I think the same thing! The art of conversation is slowly dying. I worked in a restaurant a couple years ago and one evening we had about 25 people sitting no waiting for their dinner, yet, the restaurant was almost quiet, why? They weren’t really talking. They were on their various electronic devices. It was a sad sight to see.

  13. in this part of the world where i belong, people have large personal spaces and dont like to share their space with a stranger. it has happened to me many times that when i try to strike a conversation with the person sitting next to me in a coffee shop or bus or metro or air plane others give me “that look”, but the person i attempt to have the conversation with seem to be very happy with my company! Y is it always so every where?

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