It’s always such a thrill to meet someone who gives you a run for your money. Someone whose mere presence, and chance meeting makes you question yourself and where you’re at in live. I like to call it the ‘is-this-seat-taken?’ phenomenon.
As a freelance writer I have met many, many people at cafes by asking them or having them ask me “Is this seat taken?” This is what happens as a writer when you spend minutes and hours and days on end sitting with your laptop propped on your lap in the coziest seat you can find in the venue. The cozy seats are the ones people who are staying a while gravitate to most. And so now, not only do I sit on the sit with the target on its back because it’s comfy, but also for the opportunities it leads to.
And then you get to talking one way or another. Sometimes it’s awkward. Sometimes you move seats because you want not to talk to this stranger. And yet at other, very-rare times, you come across someone who piques your interest. Who you want to have a relationship with outside of the cafe setting. Outside of the superficial what-are-you-working on talk. I’ve had this and have made a great friend in the process who I’ve gotten together with a handful of times when we first met. She even introduced me to her mom who was in Toronto for a weekend from NYC. I’ve had this and have made someone who made my stomach aflutter, who made me reevaluate my dating status at the time with another.
How wild it is that just being at the same place at the same time as another could be a destiny of sorts. Can change the way we move forward in life. Can make us question where we’re at, where we’re going. Conversing. Energy. Chemistry. The idea of. Getting books based on their suggestions. Writing articles using words they used in your conversation so they can get the reference and smile. #incarnate
That’s the thing with chance encounters; they’re really not so chance after all. Think about it, when we go somewhere in which we frequent, we are bound to meet like-minded people. People who gravitate to that same space and spot for likely similar reasons that you do. The rock’n’roll, soul-inducing music. That cozy, wooden circular table at the back with the two leather, roll-around seats, with just the right amount of space to lay your Nike-clad sneaker on the interior brick wall. The flirtatious, fun, playful, hipster baristas. The refillable tea and lack of judgment from the baristas and fellow patrons to refill said tea ad nauseum over your 3+ hour stay. We’re all fucking writers, artists, creatives types. WE GET IT. Hell, can you get us some more hot water while you’re at it, bud.
One of my favourite memories was when at my-to neighbourhood writing hole, I met a bearded, tattooed gent, who was sitting in (what I’ve always thought as) my seat. I sat at the one directly next to it. Banter began, as it does. But then he overheard a phone call that went very, very well. Celebratory well. And so when that happened after 3 or so hours working side by side, with snippets of convo between sips and writing, we both decided to take our chance meeting to the next step and go next door for a drink. Drink turned into plural, which turned into going to a restaurant, and a very obvious first date. Just like that. Easy. Spontaneous. A chance encounter gone very, very right.
So you know what, go for it. Ask that certain someone who has caught your eye if that seat is taken. Be open to meeting new people in a place where you feel most comfortable, most yourself. Go for it. You have nothing to lose and oh-so-much to gain. That is until you start dating a fellow regular at your spot, things go south and you have to have the I-have-custody-over-this-place talk and hope for the best.