Sunday, November 20, 2005
Silence Isn't Always Golden
It was chilly, grey, drizzly Saturday evening in Houston. Homeward bound, I stopped at Starbucks – I am addicted to their Gingerbread Lattes.
Against a gloomy, cloud filled sky it looked warm and welcoming – all amber lights and cozy ambience. Inside it was warm and some light jazz wafted out of the speakers. Thank goodness, they are not playing Christmas Carols. It is not yet Thanksgiving and I am already heartily sick of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. Especially since I live in Houston, a city not noted for White Christmases or white weather of any kind.
The store was crowded: every table was taken. It was also silent – not one voice was engaged in conversation. Every person was intent over his or her laptop, and most had an iPod plugged into their ears. I am sure some were busy with e-mail and IMs were communicating, but not with anyone in the immediate vicinity.
I have always thought of coffee shops as places that fostered communication, exchange of ideas, discussion and discourse. Think Greenwich Village; think the Russian Revolution, England at the time of the Charles I. Coffee houses brewed not only coffee, they brewed new thoughts and visions.
No longer, now they are places where people sit, each encased in their own little world, neither seeing nor speaking to the people only an arms length away.
No wonder the American People are so complacent of the status quo.