From her post behind the counter of the coffee shop, Kassandra had seen Rosa go into Franny’s building. She suspects she knows what Rosa is sharing with Franny, for no better reason than one person with an outsider identity recognizing another.
Kassandra wonders if everyone she meets, everyone she’s ever met or will ever meet, feels themselves an outsider. Perhaps that’s the real explanation for all the tribalistic behaviors of the last few years. It’s not fear of the other, so much, as fear that our own otherness will be revealed, and rejection will follow.
We are members of a species that has come to dominate the earth in part because of our ability to collaborate. There must be a strong evolutionary pull to ensure membership in a community, and an equally deep fear of being excluded.
This little corner coffee shop is a microcosm of the giant evolutionary patterns, Kassandra muses. She sees folk every day affirming their membership in one group or another, by their clothing, choice of words, or choice of beverage. The old gruff ranchers and farmers who stick with drip coffee, large. The young teens who experiment with sticky, frothy coffees laden with sugar. The moms who sigh at the first sip of lattes that represent a pause in the transition from delivering kids to school or activities to their own jobs. The college students who pair up energy drinks and sodas, parking themselves at the back tables, gazing at their open laptops with glazed, stressed expressions.
Since pandemic restrictions eased enough for people to come back and hang out at the coffee shop, a new group has formed. Retirement-age women, bringing their knitting and crocheting projects. Kassandra has heard the low hum of their conversations erupt into laughter, and she loves being on shift when they have their meetings.
They are the “Stitch and Bitch Club,” she’s heard them say. And they do a lot of both.