Sometimes when I go for a walk, I like to stop for a coffee. On really cold days, I might stay inside the coffee shop for a while and warm up. It gives me the chance to watch the news on television, read the paper, or simply watch the comings and goings while I thaw out.
Earlier this week, I went for a walk following my classes. It was freezing, and my errands had only started. I decided to get a coffee to warm myself up. Once inside the first coffee shop I found, I noticed a group of older gentlemen gathered around a small table. They were laughing and talking like they were old friends. I am not sure if it was because they were all hard of hearing, but their conversation was heard by everyone in the place.
They were involved in a conversation—conversations really, as more than one topic was being discussed at the same time. But all were of importance to them and they were about many things. Nothing escaped their discussion. The upcoming Olympics and the stories around security concerns, the local politics as we are facing an election in a few days, the amount of snow, or the cute chick they saw walking past the window.
Needless to say, I found their demeanour humorous. Here I was in a local coffee joint to sit quietly—which is something I never do; well, not often, and the sound of their voices along with their discussion made me quietly laugh. It reminded me of sitting with my father as he talked to his old friends when they came to visit. The laughter I heard and the twinkle in their eyes let me know they were enjoying themselves immensely. I was a nice reminder of my dad’s smile.
Now, the reason I chose to write of this today is a result of trying to explain in one of my classes the concept of a ‘local joint’. These guys (I imagine) used to hang around their favorite pub when they were younger. It would be called their ‘hangout’ or ‘local joint’. In this case, the local coffee shop is a place which hosts a variety of people who want to stop in to get a coffee. People come and go; some stay for a while to drink their coffee here.
For these men (who apparently have met here before) now refer to this coffee shop as ‘the coffee joint’. It is their meeting place, where they are comfortable and can spend time here talking while feeling quite at home… a common shared space where you feel welcome.