Coffee Shop Overhears

Ocassionally, I work outside the house. Typically, this is at a local coworking space, which is very quiet and kind of corporate, and I work there with my coworker. But this week, we decided to mix it up and work at a coffee shop.

Like most places in Albuquerque, this coffee shop is adjacent to a garage. I’ve lived here for nearly two years now, and I have yet to learn my way around because I don’t leave the house much, but no matter where I go, I usually find that it ends up being next to a garage with no customers and a bunch of dudes sitting out in front of it. There are approximately 2000 of these garages in the greater ABQ area; ours is predominately a garage-based economy.

The coffee shop itself was owned and staffed by a bunch of old hippies, mostly veterans, and the clientele was also about 90% staff. There were plenty of tables and outlets and the wifi held out great, and I had a really amazing cappuccino and half of a terrible breakfast burrito.

But what really made the experience was the overheard conversation between the various staff members. For most of the day, two old dudes sat around and loudly expounded on matters of government surveillance and national security. It was pretty impossible to follow but it all started with a discussion of a movie about a sniper that is apparently out right now.

After a long, spirited debate about whether or not this man was a hero, they moved onto the purpose of art.

“I mean, you see all these people lined up to see this film,” said old hippie number one. “And they look miserable! They don’t look happy! I mean, I go to see a movie to be entertained, you know? Or, or inspired. Not to…not to make myself miserable.”

“Mmm,” agreed old hippie number two.

“I don’t go to…to…, and who’s seeing this film? Who’s seeing it?”

“Not me.”

“Not you and me! We’re not seeing it. You know, it’s these people…and they don’t look happy. That’s not a good time for them, seeing that.”

When next I tuned back in, they were discussing ISIS.

“And what if they decide to come across the border, you know, here in New Mexico?” said hippie number two.


“Well, they could just–”

“—Have you seen that border? Have you been down there recently?”

“Well, I’m just saying–”

“They can’t get across that border. That’s the last place on earth they could ever get — nobody can even — that border, let me tell you about–”

“–I’m just saying, I think Albuquerque is prime target, for, you know, for ISIS.”


“Well. It’s a major metropolitan area near a border.”

“What? What the hell would ISIS possibly want to do in Albuquerque? What’s here?”

“…Los Alamos?”

When next I tuned in, they were deep into analysis of the lyrics of a certain Taylor Swift song.

“I have to say,” said hippie two. “I have a crush on her. I’ve never had a crush on a female…like, a female vocalist before, but.”

“Now, what are you talking about?” said hippie one, very indignantly. “What about Chrissie Hynde?”

“Oh, yeah,” said hippie two.

They contemplated that in mutual silence for some time.

“Anyway,” said hippie two. “It’ll be a sad day when that Taylor Swift gets married.”

“Yeah, that’s what’ll put her out of reach for you.”

“Mmmm,” agreed hippie two, pensively. “And I’m happily married,” he added.

Around this time, a lady with a combined air of management and long-term drug abuse came in and started bustling around and giving various burrito-based directives. She also queued up a documentary on hip-hop to play very loudly on an overhead projector.

“You ladies bothered by the language in this?” she asked us. “It’s about hip hop.”

“No, not at all,” we lied politely, as a pair of undoubtedly very talented fellows screamed at each other that they were nobody’s bitch and could fuck any bitch they put a mind to.

Having made sure the burrito situation was well in hand, this woman joined the two hippies and was soon deep into a discussion of her family dynamic.

“Because,” she said, sounding just a bit choked up. “My mother is the only one who ever validated me, you know? She’s the only one. And my sister, now my sister has been practicing witchery since she was 8 years old. And I don’t think that’s right, and I have objected to it, and the only one who took my objections seriously was my mother! My mother. Now, my sister, and then recently, she began to practice witchcraft in my bedroom! She did it in my bedroom! When she knows how I feel about it! And everyone else was, had no idea how deep she had gotten into it, but I’d told them. And the only one who validated me was my mother.”

This conversation eventually moved onto other things, but after a while, the lady felt moved to call her mother and tell her that she so appreciated her support.

“You were the only one, ma,” she explained. “The only one who validated me. Oh, that’s what they say, but she’s been practicing witchery since she was eight. Yes, she has, ma. Yes.”

Around this time, we sadly had to pack up and leave, but I’m not sure when I last had a more interesting work day. I think I might work at coffee shops more often.


  1. like this very much reminds me of places i have travelled to in nz minus the petrol stations they have all been closed down.


  2. Jen H. says:

    I love your posts.

    My favorite coffeeshop overhear was in my local Starbucks about a year ago; a young hipster sayeth to another young hipster (earnestly), “I feel like chai tastes like global awareness.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elizabeth says:

      Wow. WOW. That needs to go on a bumper sticker.


  3. FAITH says:

    Hello Accismus !
    First time I ‘m visiting your site !
    I thought first , that it was your story ,
    then i thought it was a story , a fiction you created ,
    and then when I saw your conclusion ,
    I realise that it was a real story ,
    it’s amazing , the discussion between the 2 hippies , the other woman who joins them ,
    and big thanks for sharing this incredible experience with us !

    see you soon , Faith°°°


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