Coffeeshop Chronicles: Michigan and coffee palaces

I’m looking forward to seeing my old haunts when I travel back to Michigan next week.

I lived in Michigan for 11 years, my formative married years, as I like to say. Between Ann Arbor, Detroit and Windsor, Canada, I have so many treasured memories.

It’s May, time for the annual Great Lakes MegaMeet. It’s a 10-hour drive to play with paper, see friends and go shopping. Coffeeshops are part of those memories. I hope to have an experience now like this one from years ago:
Plymouth Coffee Bean
Plymouth, MI
Weds, March 2, 2016

An older guy is sitting at a large table. A group of four kids enter; students, I presume, because they each have backpack and books. They crowd around a neighboring table, a small circular one that would be a tight squeeze for even two people. I feel their discomfort: my table is no bigger than that except it’s square. There is no other table available.

The guy glances over. “Do you want to sit here?” he asks.

“Oh, no, we don’t want you to move,” they reply. They’d be shuffling their feet if they weren’t perched on the edges of chairs.

He says, “You’re all huddled around that small table and I’m in my palace over here.”

I smile. That’s the part I liked: “palace.” I’m also glad he’s kind enough to offer his space. I try not to take up more room than I need to when working in public. Some folks are not so considerate.

I’m facing the guy, and I see him do this eye-roll-sizing-them-up thing but not in that animal-in-the-wild confrontational way. “Are you going to pull out and read those books?” he asks, nodding at their backpacks.

“Yes,” one of them says in a timid whisper.

“Here then, I’ll move,” and he shuffles his papers and laptop as he passes over to their table. The foursome smile. “Hey, thanks man,” one of them says.

I love the description “palace.”

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