Overheard at a Coffee Shop


I have fallen prey to the teary conversation in a coffee shop. More than once.

More than even a few times.

They’re not always teary, either. Sometimes they’re heated. Sometimes they include too-passionate declarations and mountain-top experiences. They always include a good friend who’s either helping me work through something, asking me to help him or her work through something, or possibly extremely angry at me (only for the moment, of course).

But all the time I was analyzing a current situation or trying to figure out WHAT THE HECK I SHOULD DO, I assumed I was being covert.

No one could hear me, right?

I’m quiet.

And contained.


Last week, as I was innocently grading Latin quizzes, I overheard the following:

“Oh my gosh, hi! How are you? I haven’t seen in you in forever! How’ve you been?!”

[I didn’t look up, but imagine an eager twenty-something embracing a sitting-down twenty-something.]

“Well,” the other young woman said, “I’m currently identifying and working through some childhood trauma.”


And despite the sadness of the facts that sentence declared, I had all I could do to keep from smiling. What a response to a well-meaning question…!

The two proceeded to discuss said trauma and identification and working-through, and I tried to focus on my grading. Then I moved to writing, hoping that creativity would keep me from listening.

I am (in this case) a wonderful multi-tasker.

That wasn’t all.

The same day – during the grading of the same quizzes – I heard an in-depth account of underage drinking that resulted in barfing all over the back of a minivan.

[“I hope no one can hear us,” the boy said, looking around nervously. I kept my head down.]

It was an eventful experience.

What did I come away with?

Shut up about my traumas in coffee shops.

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