Sunday, June 6, 2010


Lots of people who come in to work, come in all the time. Do you feel like reading about them? It's long winded and wordy and maybe a little bit wanky. If that sounds problematic for you, maybe you could go here instead.

There's one lady who comes in every couple of days, she sits and stares out the window at the playground. She stares very intently, like she's waiting for someone, looking hard at people's faces. She used to buy a latte and a slice of cake, but lately she's just been coming for the sitting and staring part.

There's a man who comes in maybe once or twice a week. He has a tiny baby, and he buys a flat white. While he drinks it, he sets up a video camera and films himself and the baby, or just the baby on its own. I almost asked him today what the deal was - maybe he films it for his parents overseas, or maybe to show the baby when he grows up.
Before I got a chance to ask, I figured it out.
He arrived alone, and met up with a lady who must be the mother, who gave him the baby to hold. An older lady stayed at the other side of the cafe and looked on disapprovingly. The man took the baby, and the other ladies sat together on the opposite side of the cafe. He only gets to spend an hour or so with his child, and I guess he films it so he can watch it later and remind himself that he's not lonely.

There are lots of old ladies who come in for cups of tea on their own. I served one lady today, she seemed fine, but frail. I brought her tray over to a table by the window for her, and she commented that it was nice to watch the people outside. She drank her tea, but later seemed to be a bit agitated so I went over to see what was happening.

She seemed quite worked up, so when I asked if she was okay, she explained why. Unfortunately, she didn't make sense. She talked about taking military pension cheques to the bank, and how everything depended on what you would stand for, and how the new shape of the water bottle has been influenced by men, and how I should watch out for that, and that the other lady was definitely from east India, and did I know anything about the twenty pounds that went missing from her house?

Her eyes were so wide you could see the white all the way around, and she talked nonstop for maybe five minutes. She told me to watch out for myself, and I told her to take care, too.

They're not all depressing.
There's a couple that comes in every day or two, the man in a Joy Division shirt and the lady in a wheelchair. They eat sandwiches and read the paper and chat and drink black coffee in paper cups.

There's a schoolteacher who comes in first thing in the morning, sometimes before we open, and he always has a flat white. He seems nice enough, although he likes to generalise about who has the highest rate of what (Swedes  = alcoholism, Australians = skin cancer). I don't think he's trying to be rude, he just loves the turn of phrase.

There's an Italian man with a hat and braces who comes in with his wife and son, and sometimes more family, and they all each have a small decaf cappuccino - although last time his wife had a diet coke. It was pretty hot that day.

There's the guy who runs the computer shop in the mall - he wears cowboy boots and drinks several large cappuccinos every day. One time I counted, he had at least twelve shots of coffee over the course of the day. I wonder how he survives his days off? He always says 'buenos dias', I keep meaning to look up some Spanish so that I can reply with something funny.

I like it when people are happy about what you do for them. Maybe this isn't such a bad job after all.


northern musings said...

Keep the people watching going Olga - it's fascinating - so many stories behind, either ones you can work out or ones that you can imagine.
Just had a family dinner here, foal curry and roast leg of lamb, sort of a cultural clash - but I think that way I catered to everyone's tastes. It´s been a very long weekend so I think that I will have to hit the sack early tonight - no doubt I have a long week ahead! take care - love to you and Ross and Joe and Maja and all the others in Walthamstow.

s said...

aw the man and baby story is so sad

Gill Omega said...

that's beautiful writing.

Anonymous said...

Hi poss, I reckon you can write an anthology of short stories about the people in the caf. It's been done kind of by Maeve Bienchy- she wrote about people at London train stations their lives etc. A good read. Maybe be the next Gudrun fra Lundi in Iceland. Google her. Keep writing the fantastic blogs. Lots of love to you and Ross!!!!Mum

olga said...

Thanks guys!