Monday, January 30, 2012

Your Share

This Monday morning I'm off to a slow start. My regular Monday writing buddy couldn't join me today. However, being, like the Thirteen Cats, a creature of habit and structure, I hied me off anyway to the coffee house to write.

There's a thing I always find fascinating. It's how different coffee houses have different personalities, different flavors. I, Gentle Reader, am somewhat of a connoisseur of coffee houses, so I know whereof I speak.

For example, my current favorite space is Shameless Grounds, for so many reasons. I visit them about twice a week, drink their coffee, make use of of their WiFi, watch their people, and write.  It's a warm and inviting space, in an old warehouse: quirky and inviting and spacious. It's nestled up a short flight of stairs in the Koken Art Factory. And, despite its billing as a sex positive space (or perhaps because of it),  the changing art on the walls is tasteful, the staff is welcoming, and plain vanilla types like Spousal Unit and myself are more than comfortable.

Shameless has a distinct personality. Creative vibes fairly ooze from the walls, probably because of all the artsy types at work in studios in The Koken. Whatever the reason, when I'm there, the words fairly pour out of my fingertips onto the page. Well, onto the screen.

And perhaps, because it's independently owned, it attracts more independent types. Perhaps.

But that beloved space is a bit of a hike for me, and today the old body was sluggish and slow. So I opted  for a shorter trek, and here I am in another of my favorite haunts, drinking chai, listening to Voltaire's album, "To The Bottom of the Sea," writing, and people watching.

This place, while closer to home, is a corporate space. It's a neighborhood space, too. I see neighbors I recognize from walks and from neighborhood association meetings and grocery shopping. The staff is warm and welcoming and friendly; the space is well laid out, spacious and warm. The coffee is good.

But it's definitely a different crowd.

I want to write something about not taking more than your share. As I'm here in the cafe, in the little corner with the plug ins where people with laptops come to sit, I can't help but noticing, once again, how the corporate people (and it's SOOOO easy to tell the corporate people from the artsy types) hog up way more than their fair share of space.

One pair has set up shop in the middle of three tables, spreading out onto a second table, and blocking access to the corner table. So, instead of two seats, they're essentially hogging up six.

Likewise for the pair next to me. They have two laptops, are using two plugs. But they've moved another table over against theirs, and have spread out. So, even though there are twelve seats, and twelve plugs, there are only five of us over here.

A student type, backpack on one shoulder, peers around the corner, netbook in hand, hunting the elusive electrical plugins. The four corporate types look up, sneer a little, and return to whatever it is they're doing. They've blocked access to the one corner table remaining. The student can get to it, but she'll have to climb over them, ask them to move.

She's twenty-ish. Not brave enough, yet, to insist on fair play. To insist on fair treatment. Too young to risk being rude. Too old to say, with the unabashed clarity of a child,"Hey! That's not fair!"

Of course, they could scootch over, invite her in. (Isn't that what civilized folks should do, Gentle Reader?) But they don't. Perhaps it doesn't occur to them.


Time goes on; the crowd shifts. The couple taking up the center table of three packs up and heads out. An artsy type, tennis shoes, jeans, longish hair, backpack, shows up. I watch to see which table he chooses. I've seen this before. I can guess, but I have scientific training. I watch and observe, collecting another data point.

He takes one of the end tables. The back pack goes under the table, out of the way. (As mine is. tucked up against my legs. The corporate types routinely toss briefcases onto table tops, and, if there's not enough table tops, they grab another, or chairs from another table. God forbid those briefcases go onto the ground, out of the way.)

I know this isn't something I should worry about it, but it annoys the old crusader in me. And of course, these people don't even realize they're acting like asses.

They would be irritated though if, for example, I had climbed over the one couple in the middle table, to get to the corner one, and to the plug. (I've conducted that experiment before, Gentle Reader.)

So I find myself wanting to write a short story with the theme of  "taking more than your share." The reason is that I think a whole lot of our societal issues are a result of just this thing...taking up more than your share.

Am I guilty too? Of course. Not of this particular infraction, perhaps,  but I live a pretty leisurely life. Do I take more than my share? Or do I pull my weight?

Do I add value to the world?

How many people, for example, are plunged into poverty and into the unthinkable violence of war because we plunder their land for oil to feed our national gasoline addiction?

How many people go without basic health care?

How many of our middle school kids join gangs, because "if you gonna eat around here, you gotta be in a gang; they're the only ones with any food,"  while others of us attend $5000 a plate black tie dinners?

Is it so much to ask of our civilization, of our tribe, of our people, that everyone eats, everyone gets health care, everyone has access to a warm dry place to sleep at night?

Is that too idealistic?

Is it too much to ask to have access to the damn wall plug?


stlcatlady is a poet, blogger, and freelance writer of short stories, news articles, and other such oddments, many of which center around her favorite subjects: felines , philosophy, and folklore. You may contact her by sending email to stlcatlady1 at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading!


  1. There must be something in the collective unconsciousness about sharing. I was behind a man in a car with a bumper sticker "Your "fair share" isn't in MY wallet." Oh the conversation we could have had.

  2. Really love it, Dawn!!!!! You hit the nail on the head!

  3. I know, it's weird when that happens, right? The ideas seem to floating around out there, and then one hits you on the head and says, "talk about me!!" Chances are the guy with the bumper sticker was NOT in the 1 percent, so, indeed, the fair share wasn't in his wallet. I guess for me, I keep struggling to simplify, to combat the materialism, to treat everyone with respect, whether I feel they deserve it or not. And that's hard! Cause I pretty much want to whack people when they do something completely insensitive. I guess we just keep doing our best, and picking ourselves up when we fail to do our best, and hope the universe has a sense of humor. Thanks for reading!

  4. Aww, ty ty, and Thank you for reading! It's knowing that people read that keeps me writing. And, erm, that's a good thing, right? :-D

  5. Definitely, YES!!! Still waiting for that Beta copy to read--but not to rush you, you understand! Take the time you need! I'll be here!