Soul Mates at Starbucks

The Perfect Partnership – Dr. Phil is in!

I’m working at home, feeling stuck, even worse, feeling lonely. What to do?

In today’s urban world, where do you go for companionship when you get infected with the loneliness bug?  You might go to the City Park on a pleasant day…if you happen to have one nearby, or there’s the indoor option, the ubiquitous urban coffee shop, Starbucks.

Yes, that new social hub for the Nuevo Lonely, those thousands of us who have chosen the freedom path of working at home, having our own lives, at the expense of the 10 am coffee crowd gathering at the office.

Was it worth it?

I go to Starbuck’s for my social fix.  I go to the stores where you can actually sit down and observe all the other “Free” souls typing on their laptops or “reading” three inch thick books, just like me.  Maybe it’s life by association, some kind of vicarious pleasure knowing that there are other lonely souls craving connection.

What is fascinating is watching how we interact with each other in this environment.

We don’t.

We do everything we can to look busy, avoid eye contact, and protect our personal space. Only in America.  My experience in other cultures has been very different, but then I was the only gringo in some of those situations so I guess that made me a curiosity.  Sometimes different is helpful.

Of course, you could move to a small town, where everybody knows everybody, where Marge at the checkout counter might ask, “why are you buying so much stool softener? Didn’t your mom pass away two years ago?”

“yes, she did Marge. I’m using it to discourage the squirrels from storing nuts in my basement.”

If this is not enough intimacy for you, rest assured Starbucks will come to your town eventually. At last report, the Starbucks Ship has even landed in such places as Omak, Washington and Susanville, California…

Okay, so let’s assume Starbucks is everywhere and you find yourself seated amongst numerous other lonely life escapees. Knowing that every one of you is overwhelmed with the fear of rejection and thus hesitant to even say “Hello!” to anyone but the barrista, how might we change this picture to truly help all the neurotics sitting alone at Starbucks?

Don’t you think it would be a great business partnership for Starbucks to join up with Dr. Phil?  He could hire a whole team of Dr. Phil clones, psychologist who would have a designated table at Starbucks Stores; walk-ins welcome, obviously.  You would just sit down and spill your coffee and your troubles. Your Dr. Phil Look-a-like would listen, and listen, and of course all of us would listen too. That’s most of the fun, at Starbuck’s anyway, pretending not to hear everyone else’s not-so-secret conversations.

At the end of the session, your Dr. Phil guy would deliver a glib one liner, like ”Keep going, your doing great!”

Of course, it doesn’t really matter what Dr. Phil says, the real therapy is that someone actually listened to you. This makes me think that the guy sitting next to me who has been talking to himself nonstop for the last hour is actually doing his own version of loneliness therapy. He gets the benefit of knowing everyone around him is listening to his babble along with the comfort that no one will dare respond. Clever, these seeming lunatics, aren’t they?

I feel so much better now.  Nothing like a trip to Starbucks to release all those inner tensions and life my spirits

Now, if I could just kick this coffee addiction.

How do you get through the loneliness blues?

Yours to count on.



Tio Stib

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