So here I am. At Starbucks. Yes, I know it’s very early to be out and about. I have no choice. I’m hiding from my cleaning lady. No, I’m not kidding. Listen, if I didn’t high tail it out of my apartment before she showed up, I’d suffer the same fate as her poor husband.
After years of putting up with the daily grind, he finally got to retire. For about five minutes. Before he had a chance to slip into his comfy, old cardigan and try out the recliner, he got conscripted into service. As her assistant. Either I disappear, or she’d hand me a mop and put me to work. Or give me some other chores. Trust me, she’s got a never ending list of ’em.
What would you do, if you were in my shoes? Exactly. Vamoose! So like I said, here I am. At Starbucks.
At this hour of the morning there’s usually the odd business type, who dashes in for a shot of caffeine on the way to the office; and you occasionally find a tourist or two pulling a suitcase behind them. There’s a hotel close by and their guests sometimes stop for a coffee before heading to the airport.
But mostly, the place is packed to capacity with students. Because my neighbourhood Starbucks is walking distance to University of Toronto. And today is no exception.
Already, not a seat to be had. And because I love people watching more than almost anything, I’m all eyes. Very interesting, I must say. How much they all look alike.
The girls all have long hair. Each and every one of them. Dark. And, at the moment, everyone’s is a bit unkempt. Bed head is still in evidence. No one’s got make up on. None, not even lip gloss. Maybe it’s too early. They don’t look fully awake yet, to be honest.
To a girl, they’re all wearing skin tight jeans. Well worn. And various styles of UGGs. Even their tops are virtually the same. Several layers of T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies. And the obligatory scarf wrapped around their necks a few times. Outerwear consists of a lightweight jacket of some kind. None of them look warm enough for winter. And there’s not a hat in sight.
I’m not describing just a couple of girls here. There’s not an empty seat in the place. And the guys are the same.
They all have dark hair, as well. Short. They’re all wearing well-worn jeans, although not skinny, like the girls’. Runners instead of boots. Ts, with sweaters or sweatshirts as well. And jackets that don’t look warm enough. Interestingly, most of the guys have glasses.
All of them look a bit wan. And sleepy. I don’t get the feeling it’s strictly because of the hour. I think it’s because of the load these kids carry. Classes, studying, assignments. I tell you, I look at the piles of books they drag around and can’t help but think, “thank God I’m done with all that.” Lots of them are also holding down a job or two. And let’s face it, they’re partying their asses off, too.
How much sleep do you think they get a night? I’d say, “not much.”
Not one of them is sitting alone. They’re huddled together in groups. Spread out all over the place. From two at a table to six and seven. They’ve all got laptops and open textbooks. And notebooks. And they all seem to be working together. They’re deep in conversation. Gesturing, pointing at each other’s screens, talking, arguing, nodding. All are nursing coffees, and the odd one’s nibbling away at a breakfast sandwich. And it’s the same scene at every table.
But none of this is what has me so fascinated this morning.
Because they all look so much alike, because the tables are all the same size, and it’s just the number of chairs around them that define the total amount of space each group is taking up, the whole scene looks amoeba-like to me. Even more so, because the shapes keep changing as people come and go from each group. As they spread out to make more room for a late arrival, or shuffle closer when someone leaves.
It is very weird. I feel like I’m watching some bizarre animated lab experiment; and the only thing missing is the music. It’s mesmerizing. I just can’t take my eyes of them. I’m fixated.
Get a life, Fransi.