Captive Audience

14 Mar

One of my favorite work-week lunch haunts is Potbelly. The turkey and swiss sandwiches, chocolate malts and chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies are great, and I can always get through the line quickly (which frees up more book-reading time until my phone alarm goes off, sending me back to work for the remainder of the day).

In the location I visit (and I assume it’s similar everywhere else), there’s a small one-person-sized stage in the corner of the restaurant, and most days there can be found a lone guitarist (not always the same person) playing/singing covers to the “audience.” I put that word in quotes because Potbelly at lunchtime strikes me as a strange place for a hopeful singer to get some exposure.

This poor guy (or gal, but usually a guy) is playing his heart out, and drowning him out is the sound of people talking, laughing and eating. It seems like people rarely listen to the music being played — no one applauds, very few people even acknowledge there is someone sitting on that little stage, and anyone who has visited a Potbelly knows that acoustics are not its strong suit. I guess a part of me feels a little sorry for the singer, though I am just as guilty as anyone else of not paying attention — if I’m not reading (which is at least a quiet pastime) I’m sitting and talking with a co-worker.

I have this weird empathy button in me, where oftentimes I feel so incredibly sorry for the plight someone or something is enduring, that it literally hurts me or upsets me. While this isn’t something that upsets me or drives me to tears, it’s certainly something that enters my mind from time to time.

Just another weird quirk about me, I guess.

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