A Thought on Norms

So yesterday I was at my favorite cafe doing my thing: learning German, reading my book, and just people watching like the person.

I had to sit at the bar, which is a three-seat section near the barista station where all the drinks are distributed.  The cafe was somewhat crowded and I was forced to choose this area since all the areas were either barely filled by other people.

So I sat at the end of this row of three watching the baristas make and hand-out drinks.  I placed my bag on the chair next to me as I sat myself.  These were bar-stools: they were high enough that placing my bag on the floor would be cumbersome to get off the ground.  I thought to myself that this would not be an issue since if the cafe had become so full I would just place my bag on the floor to sit in the remaining two stools.

I watched for people in need of both chairs: a woman who sat while she waited for her drink at the end stool.  Another person hovered around the stool later but never sat.

Then a couple floated to the area with some food bought from the cafe and appeared to wait for their drink.  The woman of this couple sat in the stool at the end while a man hovered around while looking at his phone.  I tried to make eye contact with them, but I was confused whether they were going to stay or leave.  The woman was walking here and there, and the man just seemed like he didn’t know what she was going to do next.  The man’s body language was communicating to me that he was disaffected by the environment.

I ignored them momentarily.

After a minute or so, I looked up again to find that they were still there and the woman now sat in the chair.  The man not facing me or the woman not paying attention to my attempts at eye contact showed now that they were staying.  I looked at them again to see if I could get any communication on their intentions, but could not in the end.  Seeing that the effort was not worth anymore at this point than just placing my bag on the floor, I removed my bag from the stool and lowered it lightly to the floor to the corner next to me.

I went back to my task at hand.

Surprisingly, in the next moment I heard and saw the stool moving away from my side as I had kept it close since my bag had previously been keeping it.  The man pulled the chair and sat facing away from me toward his female companion.  His shoulders were a wide expanse like the Wall of Jericho while his head hunched down to his phone.  I heard murmurs from beyond the wall, but nothing toward me.  I was not at all within their thoughts.

I did not receive any gesture of acknowledgement of my actions.  Not that I wanted it, but regular politeness would have afforded me something.  I am not upset by this, but it got me wondering about these things of politeness and in other ways, moral obligation.  This is supposed to be upsetting to a degree, but in a way I feel that this all but common and useless to ponder.  Yet to some extent I feel that this could be how the real world and how to improve it.

How can we communicate when we cannot communicate?  It is a timeless conundrum, and I felt I did the best I could to create some trust.

I see it from this man and woman’s side of the equation where it was a public establishment and because there was an opportunity I should not be wasting them the opportunity to be seated.  On the other hand, from my point of view, I had allowed them opportunity with effort: I could have ignored them and just assumed they were intending on staying.

I felt like I knew that man (and woman) somehow in their thinking that perhaps there is a sense of entitlement.  There is some of them in me when I think about it, and despite whether I am right or wrong I would like to improve the world.

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Girls chase Boys chase Girls

Because Waterfront Wednesday is an event I look forward to, I timed the rain end to my departure from my apartment correctly.  It was storming with thunder, lightning and gusts of wind that it seemed to be a bad idea to leave the safety of my home, but I already decided that life is too short.

The awkwardness of the meeting at the flagpole under the walk-bridge was not as bad as I had thought it to be.  There was David and another and another guy.  Another guy and another guy were too shy to say ‘hi’ or make eye contact with me.

Lance showed up out of nowhere in particular, or Jasper, Indiana.  He was a lanky forty-one year old that could barely look me in the eye, but his eyes were blue and had a lot of nervous energy.  Lance talked with pauses that showed how he gathered his thoughts as if trying excessively to pick good words from his mind.  His disjointed speech was rather tiresome as you can almost expect the next words to come out of his mouth.  There was some naivety mixed with partial self-confidence about Lance, like a book smart child trying to explain her idealism about the real world.  He felt like a mix of Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstedder from the “Big Bang Theory”.

After meeting Lance and David, it felt that I had gone into the “alpha-male” trance: every time I feel bored with other males around I feel the need to take the reigns and be decisive and become the leader.

The third act was in mid-set.  Coco and Ming left.  A bunch of other guys were left, but I didn’t feel the need to talk to them and it felt mutual.  Ivan finished eating all the food.  Kim disappeared without much of a trace.

Lance wanted to walk down to the river and take a look around.  Ivan and I thought it might be nice to check it out.  The short walk through a sea of people was a journey though it felt like the sea parted a bit.  Many kids and other adults were at the water’s edge hanging out and some were drinking.

We were talking a bit and looking around.  I noticed out of the corner of my eye a person approaching a breach of our personal space.  It was dark so I could not distinguish much about her other than she was thin, wearing a blouse of dark color, and perhaps brunette or blonde.  This girl had a cup in her hand.  Her movement indicated inebriation. She made some greeting and began small-talk.  When she seemed nervous, so I called her out on it and asked, “Are you talking to us on a dare?”  Immediately she began targeting Lance, and by targeting, I mean that something was not right at all by this situation in that she was asking him to do something.  She picked off Lance to where Ivan or I could not hear what she was saying to him.

The gist of it was that she wanted Lance to talk to an older lady who was probably closer in age to him than Ivan or me.  The reason was not clear, and I am not so sure about the justification for her request.  Lance was all too quick to do this for this girl and immediately struck up a conversation with the older lady.  I heard them talking as it was rather inaudible as the music continued nearby.  But the conversation ended rather abruptly and quickly.  Ivan and I turned around and found this lady storming off like she had been offended by either someone’s words or an odor.

I didn’t see much of the older lady Lance approached, but my instincts implied to me that she was in her forty’s, single and never-married, and had extremely low self-confidence.

The girl that approached Lance scurried off back to her friends.  I found it rather unnerving so the alpha-male, or more likely, the avenger in me sent out the “What the Hell?!” body posture of throwing up my arms beaming in their direction.  Four girls about 20 – 30 years old lumbered over and made awkward impressions.  They were pretty as far as I could tell, but rather immature.  These four were drinking and they were a bit weird in their presentation to us.  I could not get straight answers when I asked them questions.  I couldn’t fathom their motives so I began to phase away the conversation.

Lance however seemed intrigued by these four even though the flags were all red.  Somehow, Lance decided to ask the girl who had approached us initially for her phone number, but I couldn’t believe that it was going to be a legitimate number or whether these girls were virtuous enough to give a response.

I pulled out and began being facetious with one of the girls I was able to talk to.  All instincts were point toward that someone, Lance, was going to be heartbroken.  These girls appeared to be having fun at someone’s else expense.