"See the suffering in every person first, in front of all of their behavior that seems to be offensive to others. Suffering is the source of almost all behavior. Be compassionate."
-M. Anderson (My Mentor)
A group of three women are seated by the door. I notice one is an outsider by the way her friends are crossing their legs and facing their torsos away from her. My focus draws for two seconds on the outsider. She makes eye contact with me and moves her eyes downward before turning back to the table. Her purse is tucked under her leg. History with untrustworthy men, possibly abusive relationships based on her lip tension while her friends speak about relationships. The puddle around the base of her drink is enormous…she hasn’t taken a sip in quite some time…
"The exhaust I'm putting on this thing had to be shipped from Italy. I want you to test drive it," my friend continues.
About five seconds have passed. We walk by a man on his cell phone, covering an ear to block out the modern lounge music. The hand holding the phone is darker than the other one. Golfer. He gets frequent haircuts and has excellent posture. Good golfer.
"You wouldn't believe the sales guy at the dealership here on 5th; he's amazing."
I spot the bartender, still thirty feet away. He leans in to hear people better and tilts his head as he listens to a man drinking. Empathetic, honest. Socially intelligent. A couple is seated to our right as we continue walking in the direction of the bar. The man is rubbing his fingers together with an amazing amount of pressure as we pass by…nervous. A streaked water mark is visible on the table from where he slid his glass to the side to get it out of the way of conversation. He wants to communicate. He likes her. He's nervous. As he looks away at us passing, she licks her lips. Hygienic gesture…wants to impress him. Likes him. First date? Looking back at the man, he's breathing into his abdomen, not his chest. He's getting comfortable within these two seconds.
"Far as I can tell, you can legally ride between cars on the freeway here in California. Not sure, though." That's my friend, still going on about his motorcycle.
A lone man sits at the bar as we approach. His feet are propped on the footrest of the bar stool. The heel of his right shoe is significantly worn down at a slant more than his left shoe. Knee, joint, hip problems. As I approach the bar, I notice his watch is set five minutes ahead of mine, his cuticles on his left hand are picked down to what looks to be a painful pink. His nails are bitten in much the same way. Suffering, I remind myself.
The bartender begins to make his way over to us. A group of people are seated directly to my left at a table against the wall. One woman is wearing hot pink scrubs. Deep-seated creases run down the backs of her pant legs. Sits all day…medical assistant….administrative. Her phone on the table is next to everyone's glasses of alcohol. Somewhat careless. She's close enough that I can see small indentations on her nose from having worn glasses all day. Computer? As she listens to her friend talk, her blink rate is low (about a 12, but I didn't time it with a watch). Interested in her friend. Relaxed. Comfortable.
"They even have helmets with Bluetooth in them now," my friend says excitedly. "You can make calls going 80 miles per hour."
The friend of the medical assistant woman has her purse tucked tightly against the wall, furthest from public reach. Her upper arms are closely hugging her body as she speaks. She leans away from the man and her shoulders go up an inch almost as he starts to speak. Too much hidden fear and aggression at this table. Why am I still looking? I break away. Focus on the room. I start profiling clothing, hair styles, posture, relationships, head-tilting, breathing, jaw tension, swallowing…stop!
As the bartender walks in our direction, a man is sitting behind him on the other side of the bar. His shoulders are raised, almost in what looks to be a permanent way. His posture seems forced and his facial expression of contempt is obvious. Extreme insecurity. Wounded. Wants to be seen as tough. Will transition to fighting quickly if he feels subordinated. He will lie about his job tonight to someone.
As the bartender leans in and asks my friend what he would like, we squeeze into a small opening to order, offer up the Visa and wait for our drinks. Why does he shave his hands? Weird.
While I'm honestly trying to guess what kind of cat produced the very long white cat hair on the pants of the woman next to me, my friend interrupts me.
"Not even the new Ferrari can beat this thing…"
I take hold of my glass from the bar and turn to find a table for us. I spot an open table near the back and we pass by a man on a laptop. His briefcase is one of those zip-up types. Practical. I notice that even though his laptop is on the table, he zipped his case back up. Meticulous, procedural, secretive? It's tilted under his feet in a way no one can reach it. His fingernails have little white spots in them. Leukonychia…that's what that's called. It means possible liver disease…he's got a big drink… His shoes are polished and clean. A small and straight wrinkle goes downward from his left shoulder to his chest. He just drove here…quite a ways.
"The only bad thing is that I can't carry my golf clubs on the bike, you know?"
As we sit at our table, a man sitting alone adjusts himself. A faint tan line from a recently removed wedding ring is apparent. The band of his watch looks new; it seems stiff, as if it's had no permanent curve from long-term wear. Liar.
As we get settled, my friend's abdomen is moving. Breathing comfortably. His blink rate is low and he crosses his legs. Comfortable.
"Dude, when are you going to come see the bike?" he asks.
This is our first three minutes in the bar.
Chase is still on active duty in the US Military. Please share an article if it's interesting to you.