A friend of mine from the Starbucks coffee gang in Ormond Beach, Fla. sent me a note the other day, just to say hello. (Due to the privacy regulations I can’t mention his name; it’s John Stewart.) He said there wasn’t much to report except that the group is now back inside Starbucks, but gone are the days of 12 people pulling up chairs and sitting around a coffee table for a group conversation. They now sit one or two at a table in a pattern that spreads across the room.
The place is noisy. Hissing, clanging and banging exotic beverage appliances blast a symphony across the room that reverberates beneath a vaulted metal ceiling. It’s near impossible to carry on a group conversation in that atmosphere. He said they nod, as though they actually heard what someone said. Not that it matters much if they miss it. The same missive will come around again in a day or so, such is the conversation of old coots.
John is right in his observation; I circulate through three of these old coot coffee gatherings: one in Florida and two in New York. None of us pay close attention to what is being said. We’ve heard it before, so many times that we know the specifics better that the person telling it. We only listen so we can correct him when he gets mixed up with the facts. We jump in with gusto to point out the error. The usual response is, “Oh yea; you’re right; I didn’t finish first in the 10-K race, it was my cousin. But, I finished, and ahead of some of the runners.”
These “stories” are re-circulated so often that many times they are introduced with a disclaimer, “Stop me if I’ve told you this before.” If you don’t respond quickly you get the re-run. Even then, it rarely stops them. They are then subject to unrelenting interruptions, designed to wear them down. Especially when they go off on a jag about their latest medical adventure.
Now that I’ve come to the end of this article, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve said it all before.
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