Got to Uxbridge this morning early so I stopped into Costa for a civilized coffee and got the notebook out and just started writing.
This is what I wrote.
“I love coffee shops and the random selection of people you get in there.
This morning I am in Uxbridge – Costa Coffee in the town centre. There are plenty of other solitary people.
The guy in front of me in the queue is a great big butch guy, he looks like a builder. He orders a caramel latte and for some reason that strikes me as a bit odd. But, really, what is your average caramel latte drinker meant to look like? I don’t know.
There’s an older man behind me, distinguished looking and about 70 I’d say. He looks at the barista with disdain and speaks to him like I would imagine one used to speak to servants. There is a woman with him, younger. She’s well dressed and well spoken. They give the impression of being father and daughter.
I sit at an outside table. It’s a bit chilly for August but I like to sit outside. I like a cigarette with my coffee but also I like to watch the people walk by.
Most people look like they are on their way to work and they don’t seem too happy about it. Some are striding purposefully, others walking at a more leisurely pace. Some talk on their phones, some grab a take-out coffee, others look quickly into the shop windows as they pass.
Then a swarm of ants appear. Lots of people, marching along, not talking, certainly not looking at the other people in the melee. God forbid there should be any eye contact. And it’s clear the train has just pulled in to the nearby station,
These are the worker ants. It is clear their mission is to reach their destination as quickly as possible, without disruption, without interaction and I wonder at what point in their day they become human again and shake off this commuter mentality.
I read that coffee shops are a good place to write, to observe, to listen and overhear. So I listen… but I hear nothing. All these people milling around and there is silence. No conversation at all.
Everyone is in their own little world and they all look so serious.
The only thing I can here is the muffled tannoy voice of the railway announcements. It fades away and the next swarm of worker ants marches past.”
So there you have it, a little description of my half hour in the coffee shop this morning. Then I had to go to work :)