Morning People

Yesterday’s bout of grogginess turned out to be actual tiredness; after taking a long nap in the afternoon, I felt much better and stayed up to about midnight. And lo, the next morning i woke up just a few minutes before the alarm went off! After brushing my teeth, the phone rang and I spent several minutes trying to answer it before I realized I was actually dreaming; it was the alarm blaring in my ear. Oops. Still, I was quite well rested, so I did some exercise, and headed out to the coffee shop.

I had been hoping that regular morning visits to the same coffee shop would change my perspective on the world. Ordinarily, I’m looking for patterns in behavior or concepts, but now that I’m at the same shop in the morning I’m wondering what patterns observed over time will become obvious. Here’s some observations I’ve made over the past few days, grossly generalizing of course:

  • The 7-8AM crowd has a much different demeanor than the 10AM crowd. The impression I had, very generally, was that these people had time to take 15 minutes or more to ease into their day. Some read newspapers. Others just chatted quietly. Yet, this was not a relaxed atmosphere. It felt like I was surrounded by seasoned athletes who were getting ready to run a practice race, and this was their way of limbering up without any drama. I actuallly ran into an old client of a company I used to work at, a fellow who had always impressed me with his vision of customer service and organizational empowerment. He was surprised to see me up so early, and we exchanged pleasantries. It occurred to me that he is the quintessential early riser, poised and in control of his time, ready to lead his company like he does every day.

  • The 8-9AM crowd seems more in a hurry, and tend to come into the store in bursts. They line up in front of the counter, by now fully marshalled by the morning crew leader, and are served their cups of coffee with impressive efficiency. I imagined that some of these people had deliberately chosen not to use the drive-through window, because the act of spending a bit of time in a store and savoring that first sip of expensive coffee was the extent of their ritual. It is a small luxury, to take a few minutes on the way to work and buy some nice coffee before starting another hectic day at work.

  • The 9-10AM crowd is more relaxed, because for them their day has already started; they aren’t stopping-in on the way somewhere else. The coffee shop is an actual destination for people are getting settled in to have a business conversation with their partners, perhaps preparing for a meeting or client visitation. A few others haul out laptops and quickly get absorbed in their work. Still other people are waiting to meet other people, perhaps an informal interview or introduction, and sip their coffee while looking out the window.

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p>On this particularly day, the morning people seemed to be quiet yet alert, compared to the late-night crowd I’m normally part of. I suppose it could be that the day was still young and full of possibility, and this was reflected in the way people seemed to smile. It was like I was visiting some alternate reality, though the experience reminded me also of the couple times I’ve visited Canada; people there seem to be more aware of who’s around them, quite conscious of how their actions could affect you and taking care not to make that an inconvenience.

I also got to see a mysterious pickup truck that had a box built about three feet high above the rear bed, insert with barred openings. It looked like a truck used to transport animals or something. I had seen the very same truck on Monday; apparently, this coffee shop is part of the driver’s morning ritual. There’s a good chance I’ll see it again tomorrow. And so my morning world starts to become a little more real.