For a couple of months, one hour a week, I’ve been working at the Cambridge Co-op. I sit outside under an umbrella stuck in a bucket of rocks, that often threatens to fly away and count the people going in and coming out of the building.
Only five people are allowed in at a time. Everyone must wear a mask. (Not that I’ve had any problems with people doing either.)
Last week, for the first time I abandoned my method of counting people by writing down the number of people coming and going. Instead, I used a favorite method of Co-op bouncers, pebbles.
There’s a milk crate next to the chair under the umbrella, big enough to hold a book, bottle of water, and five pebbles picked up from the gravel parking lot.
It’s simple. When a person goes into the Co-op, I move a rock from one side of the milk crate to the other. When they leave, I move it back.
When Bonnie, who relieved me after my hour shift, showed up I pointed out the pebbles and told her it was my first time using them. I said counting with rocks made me feel a little bit like a cavewoman, but then we shingle our roofs with rocks around here (because of the slate quarries in nearby Granville many houses in the area have slate roofs), so it doesn’t seem all that unusual.
We both agreed that using rocks to count people was more direct than writing down numbers which is more abstract. With the rocks, it’s one person, one rock. With numbers, you have to make the leap to a symbol to represent the people coming and going.
This led to Bonnie explaining to me how music was first written down by early monks, my telling her about learning that I could actually clap to a beat, something I only learned I was capable of doing in my fifties when I took Bellydancing lessons.
This is one of the things I love about our Co-op.
I was able to have this thought-provoking conversation with Bonnie, who I never met before and is 30 years younger than me in the few minutes between our shift.
I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Jon how music was first written down. I knew he didn’t really care, but would listen anyway.
I’m very glad to be working at the Co-op again even if it’s in this new way. Makes me think that umbrella and chair, milkcrate and pebble would make a good thread drawing on my Corona Kimono.