Feb 14 2010
Who: Agent Charles
Where: Downtown Fredericksburg
More Specifically: Hyperion Espresso and the Toy Shop
Weather: A chilly, windy 30F
When: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 2pm
While contemplating this project, I decided that in keeping with the spirit of “observing” shoppers, aka spying on them, I thought that it would only make sense if on the walk there I wore these spy glasses that I so joyously received for Christmas. Just thought I’d set the scene there.
I started at Hyperion, admittedly because I was cold, but also because what better place to observe people where it’s normal to sit around? Hyperion Espresso is one of the two major coffee establishments in downtown Fredericksburg, the other is The Griffin. The Griffin, however, sells books to complement the caffeine. Hyperion is the typical American coffee shop. The only major flaw I see with Hyperion is the way that the store is set up. The store has a major floor section, then on their second floor is more seating. To go with this second section the establishment also has a second counter. However, I have never seen this counter used, and I suspect that it hasn’t seen use in quite a while. My guess is that the counter wasn’t as profitable as the owners foresaw, and now it would cost too much money to take it down. So, there is stands. It also takes up an enormous amount of space, thus prompting the employees to occasionally announce that any long-lasting patrons should consider giving up their seats to new-comers. This happened once yesterday, but most of the traffic in the store was families, and lots of babies. My favorite kid was a young girl with a man (presumably her father) who just came in to use the bathroom. While she used the bathroom he stood outside the door “to stand guard” and while he went she sat in a chair and “the nice man [at the next table] would make sure nothing happened to her.” I thought about this for a minute and I considered how I remember as a kid being taught that if anything bad ever happened to me on the street that I should find a nice looking lady to tell her what happened. Kids are taught to trust women and this is enforced by women occupying most of their caregiving (stay at home moms, female teachers, teenage girls as babysitters). But, this man, instead of suggesting that the woman sitting across from me (who indeed looked feminine) would watch her, it was instead the normal looking man. Upon thinking of this later, the father might have suggested a man since he himself was a man.
My guess for the large amount of children in Hyperion was because the snow was finally melting and the kids and adults were experiencing extreme cabin fever. I could tell that many of the adults wanted desperately to stay and sit a while, but resolved to the fact that the presence of their children would probably inhibit their chances of doing so.
I enjoyed watching the parents order for their kids because I kept seeing the same conversation on a loop:
Caregiver: What would you like?
Kid: I don’t know.
Caregiver: How about hot chocolate?
Kid: Yes please!
Every guardian gave the kid the option of what they wanted, but then always suggested the winner – hot chocolate. Why not simply suggest this in the first place?
Hyperion is not an especially kid-friendly place, as evidenced by the hard seating, limited spacing, and high counter. As a result, families did not stay long. When kids started crying or getting upset, the parents would give an apologetic smile to the studying students as if to say You’ll understand someday, and they’d leave to stop further embarrassment.
But, don’t worry parents, I don’t mind. I’d be cranky if I was a five-year-old in a coffee shop, too.
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