She saunters in at 7:47 AM like clockwork orange and navy and yellow, argyle bag in tow with dark pants and dark shoes, ritualistically heading to her spot near the window. I have no idea who she is, or what she does, other than what she does at Starbucks in Englewood, every morning, without fail, which is to compulsively study some sort of text in a biblical way.
The Gentlewoman Scholar attracts not only my attention, but that of anyone who sits near her, or rather she to them. For she must compulsively sit in the same spot, even if the entire store is empty save for one person unwittingly sitting right next to her unofficially designated table. Her fingers tap methodically on the same page of text, as if she were speed reading braille.
One could say that many of us who frequent the Englewood Starbucks weekday mornings are a bit OCD, though perhaps not as doggedly as the gentlewoman scholar. More characteristic of the ritualistic crowd in Englewood is the Almost Dead Poets Society, which meets every Tuesday morning at precisely whatever time they arrive.
At about 7:30 AM, the Society ringleader begins hoarding tables and chairs so that the informal gathering will have sufficient seating. It’s quite an artsy bunch, tending to discuss their latest exhibitions. The volume, the presence, the construction, the juxtaposition of their images — a rather obsequious gathering in contrast to the solitary Gentlewoman Scholar.
All this now occurs as a backdrop to the balloons tied around the railing, framing where the Gentlewoman Scholar squeezes through the jutting chairs of the Almost Dead Poets gathering. The balloons celebrate neither scholarship nor the arts, but the newest arrival to the Starbucks family.
The Clover® brewing system, if you haven’t heard, uses innovative Vacuum-Press™ technology to create your cup in front of you. At the suggestion of Beth and Dan, my knowledgeable baristas, I selected the bold Costa Rica for my initial try, and watched as the stainless steel filter lowered itself into the brew chamber.
Hot water flowed in at a precise temperature to brew my coffee for an ideal length of time. The store manager, James, is proud with good reason that Englewood is one of the relative handful of stores in the country selected to roll out this latest caffeinology.
It remains a challenge to juggle all this. The Gentlewoman Scholar and the Almost Dead Poets signal the steady stream of customers, while Beth is the morning quarterback directing the ample line from behind the counter. Dan is the social director at the register, and James is the brains behind the scenes.
The Gentlewoman Scholar makes eye contact with no one while The Almost Dead Poets Society comes to life. Social events cut across all lines, and at all hours, reflecting the diversity of the store’s staff and clientele. The morning crew in Englewood brings order to weekday mornings, and I’ll bet their district manager sleeps well at night on their account.