Echelons of Third Space

The Cobblestone made complimentary mention of an earlier blog on “third spaces,” so I’ve decided it’s time to write the sequel I promised.

A couple of weeks ago, after sequestering myself in my apartment for two days to write, I need a brief respite and some healthy food.  I headed to Third Space–Cafe and Social Space on the nearby Smithfield Plaza.

After placing an order at the counter, I realized I’d forgotten my wallet.  You see, I’d given a new purse a whirl the day before and accidentally left every cent in that handbag rather than the one I now carried.

The young man behind the counter could have easily cancelled the order.  He’d probably not even hit the enter key at that point.  But instead he said, “It’s okay.  You’ve been here before. You can pay later.”

Wow!  I’d been there twice.  Once was with Esther about four days prior.

This guy had rendered excellent service on that outing–and that was one reason I returned again so soon.

Now I’d normally have trouble accepting such an act of kindness, for fear something might go wrong.  But this time I admitted to myself that his was a much better option than trudging home hungry–particularly when I had so much to do.

So I stayed put and enjoyed a tasty slice of quiche with a side of grilled vegetables.

While eating, I devised a plan that required asking for more leeway than the kind cashier had actually offered.  When I got up to leave, I approached him and asked, “Is it okay if I come back to pay tomorrow morning? That way I can get breakfast while I’m here.  Will you be working tomorrow?”

He said yes and indicated the plan was acceptable. And I went on my merry way.

At home, I made sure to set an iPhone reminder.  I wouldn’t run the risk forgetting a responsibility as important as this.

I arrived back at Third Space around 8:30 the next morning.  After greeting the cashiers, I ordered a “mini veg” and asked to pay for both meals. The young woman who was ringing me up thanked me for returning to pay. And the young man was visibly relieved to see me.

“Isn’t it nice that we can trust each other?” he asked.

Yes, it surely is!

The Third Space offers shelves of books and an upper tier where the sign says, “here, it’s okay to talk to strangers.”

I must say, though, that he had to extend much more trust than I, since I know I’ll certainly follow through!  But what let him know I would?

In my mind, there was no way I would ever shake his faith in humanity by not meeting our agreement.  Such breaches have happened to me before, and the scars have left me far less generous to strangers than I’d like to be. But this particular story has a happy ending.

This young man has provided a glorious example of generosity.  He has demonstrated what a true “third space” is all about.

The website of the place he works, the “Third Space–Cafe and Social Space” claims that the founders wanted to provide a comfortable space for all, where people could feel included without having to spend much money.  This example proved to me that they have succeeded.

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