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Coffee Etiquette

This morning, I went to the Mill to read about Buddhism and to get a good cup of coffee (except that I learned in my readings that the coffee didn't exist--it was simply a product of my attachment to the physical world. Hmmm.) Friday mornings at the Mill (in the main room, at least) are always abuzz with a broad assortment from people, probably most of them desperately desiring to be discovered by NPR's radio program hosted there at 9:00. So, in order to avoid distractions (as well as attempts to draft me into radio stardom), I moved as far away from people as I could possibly get--there were at least 15 tables between me and the closest person.

Yet, somehow, a couple bent on coffee coquetry decided to sit at the closest table possible to me. Did they not see that I was trying to attain enlightenment? Did they not understand that clearly-understandable voices close-up are not as conducive to reading as is the white noise of several conversations far off? Did they think I would be interested in their conversation? I wasn't quite sure what to make of the whole situation.

There seems to be a clearly need for a list of rules of etiquette for a coffee shop. I certainly understand that people come to coffee shops for varied purposes--I myself have come both to read and to socialize. Still, it would make sense to attempt to segregate those two sets of people.

In case you were concerned, I did get my reading done. Here's something for you to ponder from the tradition of Zen Buddhism:

Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When anyone asked the boy what his master preached about, the boy would raise his finger.

Gutei heard about the boy's mischief. He seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and ran away. Gutei called and stopped him. When the boy turned his head to Gutei, Gutei raised up his own finger. In that instant, the boy was enlightened.

--As recorded in Philip Novak's The World's Wisdom

Perhaps I should have raised my finger at the people who chose to sit next to me.


Question is, WHICH finger would you use ...

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