Not the Character of a Place but the characters IN the Place

I have a sign inside my front door that reads: “what’s important is not the character of a place… rather the characters in the place.” by Plato. I bought this plaque because I am always apologizing about my home. It’s not big, like most of my friends homes, and it does not have fancy furniture (mostly due to kids, animals), and it is not finished. In fact, there are in-process developments in every room of the house. My husband does a great job working on all the various parts of the home, inside AND out, but nothing ever seems complete. My way of handling it is by putting up signs such as this plaque; and yes, I do realize it is my defense mechanism at work.

But today I realized that my husband and I both live by the words of that plaque as much outside our home as within it. For example, we stopped going to our favorite coffee shop in town almost a year ago. Our reason? The woman who had worked there for a long time became the manager and, for some unknown reason, decided she did not like us any longer. It was a very strange thing. We came almost every Sunday morning for probably the last four or five years and ¬†purchased amazing breakfast sandwiches and hot beverages. We tipped extremely well and we were always in a good mood (how could we not be, it was our day off and we were in our favorite spot, eating our favorite food and reading). But for some reason she began to change her entire demeanor when we arrived. She would take our order in an extremely formal businesslike manner and then greeted the very next customer with sweetness and sincere warmth and good natured joking; just like how she used to treat us. After about a month of this puzzling behavior I questioned her about it: Are you angry with us? Did we do something to offend you? Did we say something that upset you? You seem really annoyed with us, how can we fix this? All attempts by us were handled with the same cool response: Everything is fine, I’m just busy. So, after another month or so of feeling like second class citizens, we sadly decided to stop visiting that shop. We found another perfectly good location to enjoy our Sunday morning walks and breakfast but we did miss the longer distance to the shop (we walk rain or shine) and the better tasting sandwiches of our beloved shop. My husband even talked with the owner a few months later when he saw us locally and he said he was sorry but she was a ‘good’ manager. So we figured that was that.

But last night we stopped by our favorite shop when we saw another familiar coffee barista and didn’t see the ‘witch’ as we not so affectionately had begun to call the miserable manager. Emily* told us that the manager had quit. We were so happy (as was she) and this morning we went back to our old stomping grounds and enjoyed the most delicious breakfast sandwiches and the very warm reception from the new and other seasoned barista’s. We read the Sunday paper, basked in the comfortable chairs, ate more than usual, and joked with the staff. Ahhh, it was just like the old days.

So the moral of the story? “What’s important is not the character of a place…rather the characters in the place.” Plato.


*For privacy sake, Emily is not her real name.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Arline
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 00:39:31

    Hey Raeleen!

    I’m following your blog! Miss you!!!



  2. Armi Rowe
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 02:50:29

    Sounds like you were the unfortunate target of vampire-like energy-sucking misery. Some people like that they get satisfaction out of observing the impact of their negativity on others. Good strategy to confront her directly, find another venue and let the owner know why you left! Maybe she went to find more positively energetic victims!!! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs, Raeleen. Congrats on your blog launch!


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