DUNCAN: Life as a coffee shop hopper can lead to listening in on all kinds of conversations


| Photo courtesy of Megan Duncan

I hear some interesting things throughout the day as I migrate to various Hannibal coffee shops to work.

I don’t always order coffee.

Sometimes I get food. Other times, I get dessert. One time I got nothing because I paid for a coffee — but really just to get the booth space — then forgot to go up and get it. 

But no matter what, I always seem to get a few extra pounds (which are adding up) and some interesting eavesdropping.

I don’t try to listen in, but I’m usually just sitting there typing and voices tend to carry.

It turns out I am a lot more nosey than I ever realized because sometimes I scoot a little closer to the conversation. Other times, I stick my earbuds in to escape it.

I have listened in on several job interviews — one where I would bet she got that phone call a few days later, and another where I’m not so sure the girl even wanted the job.  

I have heard heartfelt confessions by friends who whisper-yell private information about their lives. I have heard some really good marital and parenting advice and some really bad.

I’ve sat in on important committee meetings about unknown events and heard a couple of church members get into a very distinguished argument over who was going to be responsible for the casserole list. 

I have also listened to women bashing the friend who didn’t make it that day. I’ve also heard other women lifting that friend up in prayer. Such a stark contrast.

I’ve also listened to a lot of political discussions — some I have agreed with and some I haven’t. Either way, I am interested in hearing a perspective I haven’t listened to before. It’s funny to learn about the driving forces behind people’s opinions opposite of your own, especially when you are basically just a fly on a wall — or a coffee shop hopper in a booth. 

No one is yelling or cap-locking. I’ve learned things I just don’t think I would have known about otherwise. I’ve learned a challenge to my opinion can be a good thing. 

Once I sat behind someone who ended up in the foster care system due to her mother’s drinking problem. She was an adult now, and just hearing her story made me get teary-eyed behind my laptop. People who have been through so much out there, and to hear them unfiltered is really kind of a gift.

It just gives me such a great understanding that people are going through things we could never even guess.

My favorite conversation by far is listening in on Bible studies when they gather somewhere nearby. 

I might be typing away at a story about some kind of City Council issue when I get a good lesson on the truth of Jesus or a message about always seeking God’s kingdom first. 

No matter what I am doing, I’m redirected to remember why I am doing what I am. Then it’s about rereading those words in front of me to make sure they are always truth-telling and God-glorifying. 

It has to be God first.

Drama and crime is a part of life that has to be reported on. It’s the least favorite part of my job by far. 

As long as I seek truth, I know where my heart is.

Isn’t it amazing that a simple conversation in a coffee shop can remind me of that?

It just makes me remember my own words, and that someone might be listening.  

What are they gleaning from my conversations? 

Are they lifted up and reminded that God can be honored in every situation, no matter how hard the topic might be?

I hope so.

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