Monday, August 10, 2009

Pay no attention to the girl by the window...

The Starbucks near my workplace does not have a drive-through, so I am forced to go inside, which I don’t really mind. The Summerlin area of Las Vegas is more upscale, and I am always intrigued by the people there. I stand in line and survey the group inside or those sitting outside under the huge shade trees with their perfectly groomed dogs. They are always well-dressed, often in business suits reading the morning paper, or sitting in groups wearing expensive jogging suits and rewarding themselves with an after-workout iced coffee.

Lately I’ve been watching two thirtyish men who always sit at an outside table by the window. I first noticed them about three weeks ago on a morning that was already 90 degrees at 7am. The man I’ll call “Bald Guy” was talking and making emphatic gestures with his hands. His sleeveless t-shirt bared tattooed arms and dark glasses sat atop his bald head. The guy across the table from him (I’ll call him “Ball Cap Guy”) was sitting in rapt, eager attention, wearing a backwards ball cap and a black t-shirt. But their un-Summerlin attire wasn’t what caught my attention; they had books on the table between them, and as Bald Guy spoke, Ball Cap Guy furiously wrote notes in the margins of the book in front of him.

They must be taking a class together, I thought, but then I noticed that the books in front of them weren’t identical, so they probably weren’t studying. And it sure looked like Bald Guy was lecturing or teaching something to Ball Cap Guy. Luckily their outdoor table was outside and perfectly positioned by the coffee pick-up window, giving me every reason to stand right next to them by the window. I moved closer and tried to see the text on their open books, hoping they would think I was looking at the stack of New York Times newspapers against the wall.

Maybe they’re doing Bible study, I considered, but Ball Cap Guy’s book didn’t look like a Bible. I tried to look at Bald Guy’s book, but he had moved a sheet of paper over it. Ball Cap Guy’s margins were getting full, and he turned a page and began to write a sentence in large capital letters above the text on the fresh page. This was my chance! I craned my head, trying to get a better view, so I could read the movement of his pen as he wrote. By this time, I didn’t care if they caught me; I was too curious. Bald Guy’s hands punctuated wildly as Ball Cap Guy wrote carefully, “God helps those who help themselves.”

So it was Bible study of some type. Mystery solved. I moved away from the window and picked up my Venti Iced Chai, thinking about what Ball Cap Guy had written. No matter what your religion, it’s a good motto for us to remember. A reminder not to just sit by and wait for things to happen. You have to get out there and make your own luck. Give yourself the opportunity for good things to come to you. They sure as heck won’t come when you’re sitting at home with your butt on the couch.

The next time I saw Bald Guy and Ball Cap Guy, they were sitting outside, far away from the building under the trees. Maybe I need to think about a different platitude, such as Curiousity killed the cat? Or Mind your own business?

1 comment:

  1. Great story! Life's everyday dramas are what make people-watching a favorite activity. When you think about it, you actually were just helping yourself .... which was the teaching of the moment, yes? Yes, I'm thinking so...