Cafe Disloyalty

Today, I am to write about the space in which I write. Yet, that very topic brings me face to face with the current crisis that I face.

Perhaps ‘crisis’ is a tad dramatic.

Yet, as I sit here in this new space, two doors down from my old space, I’m feeling a little anxious. Admittedly a little less anxious than I was a few minutes ago as I tried to approach the new space from a different direction so that the owners of the old space wouldn’t see me. Having memorised my name and coffee order within two visits, I imagined them calling out my name in enthusiastic greeting, only to fade on the last syllable as I slinked past them to the other place.

Cafe loyalty or, calling it as it is, disloyalty.

I wanted to be loyal. I really did. I’d made headway with remembering the names of the staff and other fellow patrons. I was enjoying the free newspaper and the feeling of belonging.

I just wasn’t enjoying the coffee.

That’s a problem when you’re sitting in a cafe.

It’s not that I’m a coffee snob. I actually would have been OK with an instant coffee. It was just that this particular blend, in the form of my customary ‘long black’, was literally making me shudder each time a took a mouthful. That’s a problem when you’re trying to look friendly, appreciative, and, well, just normal, really.

So, while I don’t take kindly to disloyalty in any area of life, I had to make the decision. It felt cruel. The reality is, they may not even notice I’m no longer a regular patron…? This is not likely, given that when I visited yesterday, they said ‘So good to see you back after being away for work.’

One thing that nearly held me there, in the old space, clutching my coffee with determination and preemptive shuddering, was the free newspapers and the crossword found therein.

But now I’m here in the new space, with a much better coffee for my tastes, brighter surroundings, free wifi and – you guessed it – a free newspaper.

Coffee and Crossword

Coffee and Crossword

What else can I do, but embrace disloyalty? With time, my disloyalty will become a new loyalty, to a new writing space.

Watch this space.

Postscript: I turned to the crossword. Someone had got there before me. Could this be my punishment for disloyalty?

Two minutes later: the friendly, ¬†loyalty-seeking waitress just brought me the other newspaper in the cafe (after another loyal patron had finished with it). The crossword therein is as yet untouched. I believe I’m hooked.

Free Writing – Day #2

The aim: to get writing again.

The method: using Free Writing Prompts from this list, over the next couple of weeks. Today’s prompt is in bold at the beginning of the piece.

The time limit: 15 minutes

Location: the communal cafe table at The Drugstore in Summer Hill.

He was known for his coffee order.

He was known for his coffee order.

After the door shuts and the footsteps die, all he’s left with is a pounding headache and a dull, indeterminable despair.

He’d invited his friend to join him at the table – no, wait, his friend had actually invited himself! Before that he had been quite happy sitting at the cafe table alone, with the distraction of the free newspaper, a half-completed crossword and his satisfactorily completed architectural designs.

He was a regular customer at the cafe and the girl at the counter had anticipated his order of a ‘Long Black’ as he’d entered. That felt good. Being known. Though, let’s face it, she only knew his coffee preference.

Then in came his old mate – more of an acquaintance really. As the mate settled into the chair next to him at the communal table, a feeling of impending doom settled in for the duration.

This mate thought he knew this guy really well! Thought he could get him sorted! Thought he knew the insights that would soothe this troubled soul sitting next to him. And so he declared,

‘We’re just sperm banks, mate!’

‘I don’t know about that…’

‘Well, I do know! I’m telling you, that’s all we are to them, mate!’

‘Well…actually…I had a pretty good relationship with a woman for 24 years.’

‘Yeah, but we’re more than that. We don’t need them! We’ve got our work, our skills, our success. Those women want to reduce us to nothing!’

The mate continued his pronouncements with the occasional thumping of the table and an occasional ‘Listen to me, mate!’ to ensure his point was clearly heard.

The ‘listening man’ had given up listening some time ago – or at least he wished he could stop listening – making occasional furtive glances around the cafe, hoping the girl seated at the other end of the table was not hearing this soul-crushing,¬†emasculating diatribe.

His friend meant well…one would hope.

The well-meaning friend certainly felt better as he got up to leave the cafe.

‘I enjoy our little chats!’

The man, who’d earlier rejoiced in being known for his coffee preference, waited a few minutes after his friend’s departure, pretending to be interested in the free newspaper on the table before him.

Then he stood up to leave, with a sigh. Picking up his architectural designs, he glanced at the woman at the end of the table. Then he left, closing the door behind him, wishing he could have got to know more about her – starting with her coffee preference.