I'm disappointed in myself. This is a chain restaurant. No other way to say it. It's not interesting or unique. I bet you've been in one like it. You know ... pumpkin and cayenne colored walls, with accents of eggplant and a glass window in front of names like "Cinnamon Crunch" and "souffle." But the last 2 days I've been captive in meetings, and I needed the most convenient cafe today. I went to where the car line at school dumped me off. Panera.
Don't get me wrong. I love my souffle. Surprisingly, this cafe is full of men and meetings and laptops and open binders. I didn't know men liked pumpkin and eggplant so much. There's a man on the leather couch across from me who looks like he's actually been here for days. I don't think he's even touched his mug the whole time I've been here. I bet he bought it on Monday, and now it's Wednesday. I would think he's in a trance, but he burst out laughing briefly and then retreated into his ear bud and laptop world.
The couple beside me is talking about things like "functionality," so I'm not surprised when she brings back a tray with oatmeal on it. When they finishes eating, she offers to clean up the dishes. I wonder if she remembers she's not at home. Maybe she feels like she should clean up, because the man is wearing a shiny robin's egg blue shirt that was ironed in functional store. With so much talk about promotion and contracts and customers, I'm glad they met here where it's pumpkin colored. Their conversation moves to blogging, and I tune in ... she asks, "Have you ever seen a blog?" Seriously? He says he has two, but he hasn't touched either one in a month. Seriously? That's not functional.
A man in a well ironed out-of-date shirt sits down and scans the room with a gaze like a light over a movie theater at night. When a short man walks in, they say things like "David?" and introduce themselves. Instead of souffles, they get coffee and jump right in to talking about job moves and positions. I think the short man needs a job, and it helps to talk about such things in cayenne colored rooms with eggplant accents.
The man in the 80's shirt says "Excellent," and I'm feeling hopeful for the short man. The lady and the man are using "ethical" a lot, and his voice gets more intense as he uses his hands. Maybe that blue shirt is Italian. She's talking about breaking copyright laws and getting legal patents. Maybe he's mafia.
The motionless man on the couch gets up, leaving all of his possessions on his couch. He took his mug. I wonder how often he's filled it since Monday.
Despite the colors and the coffee and the piano music playing overhead, a lone woman sits by the window, reading on her computer. (Only the man in the 80s shirt has real paper out.) The lady looks worried. Whatever she's reading, she's feeling disturbed ... alone. Sometimes it helps to get bad news out in public, with strangers, softened by the chattering of others and a cluttered leather couch that looks like someone else lives here with her.
Why do we do things, private things, hard things ... out in public places like this chain cafe with familiar colors and Cinnamon Crunch bagels? The seed of truth in all of us that knows ...
"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." (Eccl. 4:9-10, NLT)No one wants to fall alone and be in real trouble. The man on the couch came here to be with others, even though he's plugged in. The lady with the bad news is starting to smile slightly. The short unemployed man is relaxing, and I hope he gets the job. And the Italian man in the crisp shirt seems to be listening to the functional woman who knows he shouldn't break copyright laws; he has a tendency not to clean up after himself.
Yes, two people are better off than one, and pumpkin colored cafes are good places to find and meet and be with other people. Maybe that's why the man on the couch wants to live here.We all long for companionship, ultimately to be the companion of God. But by sharing life together, we love each other on His behalf. He doesn't want us to fall alone.