Small Wonders: Prime spots for people watching

September 04, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

We've all seen them. They take up space on the sidewalk outside reputable businesses. We try not to look at them, but wonder how they got themselves to this.

We secretly loathe them. They sit there, unkempt, sucking oxygen, unaware that there are hard-working people in this world. Their laziness silently mocks the rest of society for actually being busy, actually working.

And I am now one of them.

I have become a coffeehouse squatter.

I am one of those people you see lounging at the coffeehouse as you rush in getting your java to go; the one that's still there when you return for your mid-morning and afternoon pick-me-ups; the one that appears to be either a trust fund baby or the lucky beneficiary of a sugar daddy. Or momma.


But I usually don't sit outside — nowhere to plug my laptop.

When you pretend to be a writer seriously like I do, when you put that costume on like others do a firefighter's uniform, nurse's scrubs or reality celeb's double-D breasts and six-pack abs, you're devoting yourself to a solitary life. You are solely responsible for your daily output of work; no one assigns it or keeps tabs; nobody in the next cubicle to cover for you; no one to chat with at the water cooler or washing machine or any other place you go to avoid actually working.

Facebook provides some social interaction, which is helpful. But that's kind of like going to McDonald's for a good burger. Sure it has buns and some form of meat, but it's not a real burger. Or very satisfying.

So I get out of the house a couple times each week to be around humans, to engage in conversations that aren't going on inside my head. Like the one I'm having right now.

Any coffeehouse with chairs, people and decent coffee will do. Though that leaves out Starbucks. I'm not a big fan of the mega-chains. I prefer the small, independently-owned shops. My favorite is Simply Coffee in Burbank. Priscilla's in Toluca Lake is good, as is the Black Cow in Montrose.

And in Glendale…well...if you know of one, I'm all ears. In the end, they all have something in common: the tide of people flowing in and out all day.

Gregory, the very French owner at Simply Coffee, brings me my cafe latte in a mug, not a paper cup, without my asking. He knows I'll be joining him for a while and that it makes his customers feel special when he knows their "usual."

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