Macbook Guy

The Middle-Aged Man at my Local Starbucks

There is shockingly only one Starbucks in my hometown. It has been the go-to spot for everything since I can remember. Tagging along with my mom for chats with her friends before I was even old enough to drink coffee. . .studying over Frappuccinos in high school. . .group meetings with classmates in grad school. . .my first meeting with our seed investor. It is one of the few places in the area where you can go for a decent cup of coffee and some good conversation.

I was in there this morning meeting my mom for a cappuccino. As the only Starbucks in our area, it’s usually fairly crowded. My mom called me to find out where I was:

“Where are you sitting?”

“At the first table to the right of the guy with the Macbook.”

Two seconds later, she joined me.

It just dawned on me during this brief phone call that we have all used this “Macbook guy” in the khaki cargo shorts to direct one another around the café for our meetings and outings for years. He is just as much of a staple of our hometown as the Starbucks. He is always there, sitting in the same brown leather chair to the left of the entrance with his Macbook in his lap. He has been sitting in that chair as long as I can remember, and everyone knows him, but not by name. No one has ever spoken to him. I don’t even know his name. Who is this Macbook guy, and why is he at the same Starbucks every day, from open to close, sitting in the same exact spot?

I started thinking about this, reflecting on why I had never chatted with him. He seems friendly enough; we smile at each other every day. I am not a particularly shy person. What is it that has stopped us from ever uttering a word to one another? I do not really have a good answer to this question. I’d like to be able to point to one thing and say “That’s why.” Something like, he looks creepy, or he’s a lot older than me, or I’m always in a hurry. But there isn’t one.

It is a shame when you think about it. Let’s say I resolved to overcome whatever is stopping me and made an effort to talk to Macbook guy tomorrow morning as I’m grabbing my coffee. He is probably a really interesting and friendly person. I’d make a new friend, and I’d always have someone to talk to when I’m there alone. Think of all those years of riveting conversation that I’ve probably missed out on. Why?

I believe it comes down to a few simple reasons:

  1. It’s not easy talking to someone outside of your age range
  2. You may not be in a situation that allows or encourages social interaction, such as at the bar or other night-life settings
  3. Without knowing much about the person or their interests, you don’t have an immediate conversation starter to get the ball rolling

What if you knew a little about the person ahead of time? What if everyone that wanted an impromptu conversation advertised their top main interests on their persons? Wouldn’t it be easier to find common ground and jump right past the awkward stage of divining what you have in common?

This is what we at 4Thought Studios are going to do with our Epochly app. To foster communication and engage conversations, and through this, create relationships that make the world that much less lonely. However, Epochly is a work in progress, for now. So, I have resolved to chat with Macbook guy next time I’m out for coffee. Wish me luck.

Further Reading:

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