Easter Sunday was a beautiful day and to honor it I did something I rarely do: I went to the Bagel Nosh on Wilshire.
I like the bagels there, and I’ve always had amazing service and enjoyed the feel of this neighborhood breakfast joint, I just don’t remember to go there often. Clearly I am in the minority on this one as the crowd seemed to be made up of mostly regulars who come from the neighborhood. It included families, couples and groups of men post-workout.
As I sat in a corner watching the crowd preparing a speech I’m giving next month in Mexico I was deeply engrossed in my own world when an old friend from Westside Toastmasters comes up to me, he and his wife were there after their morning exercise. I hadn’t noticed him when I sat down. We chatted for a few minutes about the latest goings on in our respective lives and it was a sweet moment of reconnecting that reminded me how easy it is to fall out of contact with people in this crazy hectic world.
Next to me was a couple who were clearly regulars based on how the staff talked to them. They were chatting with another man, as their respective sons were playing a game on an iPad. As the three adults chatted idly about soccer practice and the need to begin making summer camp plans I just sat there listening in on an everyday conversation of modern parenting.
The single dad was a divorced father, not unlike the many men I’ve represented over the years who is reduced to being a weekend father with a midweek pizza dinner. As he was explaining to the still married couple what the summer planning process was like I noticed the other father squirm in his seat. Maybe he was just physically uncomfortable, but I believe it was more the emotional recoiling of fear that he would ever have to be in the same position that made him react as he did.
I doubt he could name the emotion, if he had one at all, for if emotions are colors, a man’s world is painted in primary colors. There’s red, blue and yellow. A woman’s world is an endless spectrum from white to beige with an infinite number of named variations.
OK, that’s a bit simplistic but you get my point. And as a man, I own my simplistic views. I also own my complex, nuanced understandings of humanity. As a student of human interactions, I’m very intrigued by why people do what they do. Rarely in my opinion is the stated reason the real reason for anything that we do.
We have a very limited ability to notice what’s going on, especially when we are focused on one task. There’s a very popular video of two teams of people playing basketball and in the beginning the viewer is tasked with counting the number of passes between the teams. In the end the video asks how many passes, but also asks if the viewer noticed the man in a gorilla suit that walked through the game. Most people miss him.
What I noticed sitting in Bagel Nosh for an hour was how people will reflect who they are with. I noticed a group of three men who looked like they had a morning basketball game and came for breakfast, and about every 5 minutes one of them would pick up his phone, and the others would follow suit. Counter that with the three women, and their daughters who never checked their phones. It’s an interesting example of “monkey see, monkey do” behavior.
There was a couple who came in with one of those baby carriages that is the size of a small European car and this is not a room designed for such things. They were oddly carefree about making others move so they could pass. I found it curious that they didn’t take a table in the front room which was less crowded and could accommodate the carriage much more easily. I don’t know why they took a table in the back, maybe there was good reason.
The point is that there is a lot going on in this world and it’s easy to not notice things. Generally, our underlying motivations, our subconscious urges, play out on a regular basis and we don’t even realize it, but if we stop and look around we can see it in others, and then maybe in ourselves.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or (310) 664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra