I sat curled up in my favorite chair at the coffee shop, reading The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling (I highly recommend this book to everyone, by the way, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert) when a skinny guy with long hair and a backwards snapback walked in and plunked his backpack down on the couch beside me. I watched as he walked around behind the counter and began to make himself a cup of coffee, chatting with the other baristas.
This is my favorite coffee shop – a Christian-owned place so full of life and light that walking in feels like another piece of home. It’s also a great spot to watch people. Sometimes I take my laptop, sometimes I take a sketchbook, sometimes I take a novel; but I end up observing everyone around me the majority of the time.
Soon my mom and baby sister arrived, stopping for a coffee before they headed down the sidewalk to the health food store before circling back to pick me up . Snapback Dude had just settled down on the couch, and I didn’t want to think I was moving from the chair to a table just because of him.
I leaned over as I picked up my latte and said, “We’re not moving because of you, I promise. They’re my family and I was waiting for them, so we’re moving to a table where there’s more room.”
He gave me a big smile and said, “I can sit somewhere else, if you need me to!”
“No, no,” I assured him, touched. “We’re good. Thank you.”
“Okay,” he said, and I moved to a table with my mom and sister. We talked over scones for fifteen minutes or so before they left again, and I returned to the chair and opened my book again. Snapback Dude was listening to music, but after a few minutes he took his earbuds out and asked, “What’s your name?”
“Mirriam,” I said, shaking his offered hand. “What’s yours?”
He said, “Caleb,” and continued, “I just wanted to thank you for being bold.”
I blinked, but I didn’t have to say ‘uhhh, what?’ because he said, “You told me you were leaving and you talked to me and most people wouldn’t have done that.”
“I just – they came and I’d been waiting and I didn’t want you to think you drove us away or anything,” I stammered, taken aback.
Before I could say anything else, the man sitting across the table put down his phone and said, “I’m sorry, but I just have to say thank you two for interacting. It’s great to see that.”
“Exactly, right?” said Caleb, gesturing toward Phone Guy, whom I had privately dubbed James Spader 2.0. “People don’t connect anymore, and that’s what Jesus is all about.”
James Spader 2.0 retreated from the conversation after thanking us again, and I tucked up my legs and spent the next twenty minutes discussing God with a stranger who didn’t seem like such a stranger after all. When my sister came back and said it was time to go, I stood up and hugged Caleb.
“I’ll see you later,” he said, and I hope I nab him on his off-time again because there’s nothing quite like talking about deep, spiritual things with someone you’ve never met before – and yet, someone who feels familiar. And he was, because if we look and reach out and connect, maybe it’s not so hard to find family in Christ.
It was a fascinating morning – the discussion out of nowhere, and another stranger thanking us for talking. The impact we had on someone without really trying.
Unless I’m working a deadline, I don’t think I’ll be taking my laptop there again. I want to be open to more connections like this.