Brand New Non-Fiction #2

Away from the Grind

Daniel Ezelle

In the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting,” college-aged intellectual heartthrob, Will Hunting (played by a young Matt Damon), is asked to get coffee by an attractive brunette Ivy League scholar named Skylar. The exchange continues with Will’s response:

Will:     Great, or maybe we could go somewhere and just eat a bunch of caramels.

Skylar:  What?
Will:     When you think about it, it’s just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.
Skylar: [laughs] Okay, sounds good.

Skylar’s reaction is probably synonymous with the consummate American public. Jack Maxwell of Beverage Digest reported that in 1969 U.S. consumption of coffee was around 40 gallons per capita. Coffee consumption drastically fell to about half of that by 1998—largely due in part to the popularity of soft drinks. A resurgence in the coffee industry of recent has been propelled by the increase of coffee shops entering the marketplace. The National Coffee Association found that an estimated 80% of Americans drink coffee at least occasionally and upwards of 50% drink coffee every day. The Specialty Coffee Association of America presented findings on the motivating factors for coffee consumption, “Women indicated that drinking coffee is a good way to relax. Men indicated that coffee helps them get the job done.”

With consideration to the prior statistics, it would be reasonable for the average Joe to assume that a co-worker, client, fellow student, theologian, or potential hot date would enjoy a conversation over a cup of Joe. The American public acting on that assumption and the apposite reaction from entrepreneurs in the marketplace combine to create a consistency in the lives of Americans—a reflex plan. I must elaborate—a reflex is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous response to a stimulus.  Thus, the presence of something which is commonly accepted (General public drinks coffee) provides a platform for “incognizant” or reflex decision-making in the form of going to get coffee when all decision-making parties ignore supplementary opportunities for the use of their time.

I challenge you to learn from Will Hunting and question the arbitrary action of getting coffee. Query for alternative settings where you may spend your recreational time with colleagues, friends, prospective lovers, scholars, canonists, or an individual you would like to get to know better. Explore the possibilities that your surrounding area offers—whether it be enjoying the great outdoors, experiencing the arts, dancing at a club or in the streets, engaging in something dangerous like hang-gliding or cliff-jumping, volunteering to help the less fortunate, beginning a new hobby like crocheting, setting up a game of croquet, building something out of wood, blowing up something made out of wood (as long as it’s legal), brewing beer, picking up litter or learning how to make your own espresso based beverages.

I am certainly not an antagonist of coffee shops. In fact, I am writing this while perched on a faux leather chair within the encasements of earth-color-dawned walls, speakers playing The Shins, and wood grain surroundings of an archetypal coffee shop. All I’m sayin’ is, “When you’re away from the grind, get away from the grind!”

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