Finding Micro-Community in Unexpected Places

Friday evening. The work week is done. It’s time to unwind. Time to go and get something to eat. Steve and I typically head to Spirits Pub and Grub, a local pub near our house and the perfect point to meet up and begin to unwind.

Thursday evenings. Starbucks at Evans and Maynard. During the school year, you can find me there writing. Or any other time that I have a few minutes but don’t want the hassle of uncrating the pups, only to put them up a few minutes later.

Or, I like to go to the gym, especially after work. Many times, I see the same people over and over, be it those who attend or personal trainers. For example, there’s one guy who seems to be there, no matter what time I want to lift. I’ve nicknamed him Gym Rat.

What do these three places have in common?

I like to call them micro-communities. Like true communities such as church or my workplace, people know me at these micro-communities.

Except in a different way.

For example, Spirits. We’ve been going there for years. The staff hasn’t turned over that much, and while I may not know many of their names, I know what they look like. And they know me. Sometimes, when we arrive, they pour our drinks without even asking.

I’ve found the same at Starbucks. Some of the baristas may prepare my drink even before I ask for it, and they know how I like it.

And those personal trainers at the gym? I’ve started seeing them around local restaurants and, yes, even at my Starbucks.

What do all three of these have in common? Relationships. Sure, they’re not big and deep like those I have within my small group at church, with my coworkers, or with my family. Micro-communities bring together names and faces. Or bits of information gathered one visit at a time, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being put together over weeks, months, even years, form a beautiful picture.

This does something else. It makes me aware that the people who help me, be it at a restaurant or the coffee shop, have lives as well and stories behind them.

In micro-communities, an order may become a conversation. A waiter or barista becomes an acquaintance. Who knows? Maybe one day, they’ll become a friend. And maybe one day in the future, they’ll share their story with me.

Question: Where do you frequent where you have started to have a relationship with someone who works there?

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