How to Form a Breakfast Group
By far the smartest thing I’ve done since I retired a tad over two years ago is the formation of a small group that meets every Friday for breakfast. It has become the social highlight of most weeks, and the conversations have brought me a great deal of priceless information on an amazing array of topics, most of which I would never have looked into on my own.
Not that the idea was mine of course. Over the years you’ve undoubtedly noticed small groups of people meeting in various locales, and noticed that they seem to be having a fine time. I wanted to be in one of those.
When I transferred to Juanita High School in 1989 I was invited to join a small group that met every Friday. This was mostly “jocks,” adult men with attachments to the coaching staff in one way or another. I had coached for decades previously, and at Juanita I was the announcer for home football and both boys and girls basketball games. I assisted at track meets, and later was an assistant coach in fast pitch softball for two years.
It was entirely male for a couple of years until a new softball coach, a first year teacher, joined the group. Michelle had an immediate impact and improved the tone and depth of the conversations. As the years went by some retired or transferred to other schools. This had the effect of improving the conversations by adding different perspectives to common issues.
When I retired from teaching in 2000 that group sort of disbanded, and I missed the weekly interactions. When I retired for good in the fall of 2013 I decided I wanted to try and form a group again. I invited some of the fine folks I had met as motorcycle dealership customers, and accidentally hit on the secret of what has been a tremendous success.
You want to have folks who have a common passion, whether it be motorcycles, sky diving, knitting, square dancing, or whatever, but NOT a common profession. That seems to be the key ingredient.
With the first group, the common base of conversation was teaching and coaching, and the topics rarely ventured beyond that tight focus. With the new group, the only common denominators were that they all knew me, and were all interested in motorcycles. Even there great diversity came into play, as “motorcycles” is a wide tarp that covers many types and many different types of riding.
I commonly refer to these meetings as “brekkie,” a slang term I borrowed from a teacher friend in the first group. Attendance varies each week from a core group of five or so on up to a dozen, which is rare. Both men and women attend.
What is astounding, because they all come from different career paths and other assorted hobbies, is the scope of their expertise in a bewildering number of areas. Motorcycles form the base for some conversations, but not all. Other topics have included a lot of computer technology (most of which I have slight odds of ever using, or even comprehending, but the chats are fascinating), the design of hospital operating rooms and nuclear submarines, (separate conversations), performing at an open mic night in a bistro in Paris (!), the disparate joys of San Francisco, real estate, wild tales of adventures in previous decades, family dramas or one sort or another (usually funny), any and all forms of developing technologies, and on and on. A group joke is that someone in this group knows the answer to any question, and I am not sure that is much of an exaggeration. On one occasion the waitress provided the needed expertise!
Politics seems to be eschewed by tacit agreement, to the relief of all, but we occasionally meander into sensitive areas such as gun control, as several of the folks have interest in this area.
Because we meet in the same place at the same time, our waitress (Aubrey) has memorized what we order, to the extent of reminding an individual once in a while what they order. A request for a menu is a cause of wonder.
Today was the end of our 2nd year of these meetings, and they have grown in depth and scope over that time. Some of the regulars now assist each other with motorcycle repairs, and we go on group rides in the summer months. We even have our own “secret” outlaw biker gang name.
I decided we should have gifts to celebrate our success.
Fortunately, I have a large stash of “motorhead” books from a few years ago when I reviewed such books for a national magazine. I was able to select a book individualized for each person, plus a charming book on the development of diners made from railroad cars in New England. That one was for Aubrey. I expect these books will be “re-gifted” among the group over the next few months. A few extra books came in handy for individuals who made a relatively rare appearance this morning. At the end of our session, one of the regulars unveiled his own gift – he paid everyone’s bill. Another left an enormous tip for our waitress.
We will not meet on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, so that’s it for this year. In January we will begin discussing plans for motorcycle adventures for the new year, and who knows what else. Can’t wait.
To form your own group, I recommend finding a suitable location and then e-mailing a few friends with common interests. I can assure you it will add a lot to your 2016. And beyond.
Copyright 2015 David Preston