24 Aug 2012

Shred and Discard: Tales of A Coffee Shop

I woke up grumpy. Now this is not news to anyone who has to deal with me soon after my feet have touched the ground. My grouchiness is such that it annoys me. I will be angry that I am angry. Yeah, go figure. I have found out that two Redbulls will wrestle to the ground that feeling.

Someone told me I ought to get my thyroid checked. And given that the other health issues that plague me do have something to do with that gland, maybe I should. Chances are I will never. People tell me too many things.

I am sitting at Java. With my MacBookPro and a cup of tea masala. How bourgeoisie. How very 'I am a creative who gets inspiration from sitting in coffee houses and looking too busy to notice that you're watching me pretend to type something important'. I am as pretentious as all of these people in here. With their suits and newspapers and blackberries and tabs and Caran Dache fountain pen imitations that they never use because no one writes shit anymore.


This one woman, at 12 o'clock has been sitting here for a while. She found me here, still typing. From the corner of my eye, I saw her trying to hide the fact that she is asking the waitress what I was having. Why do we do that? Why can't we just point at the food on the next table and shamelessly say we want the same because it looks so darn good? Good manners, we think. But we are full of it. We apply manners depending on where we are. Who we think might be watching. He will shove you at a bus stop with his suit and briefcase that probably just carries photocopies of his waterbill. He will politely ask you to pass the salt at this coffee shop. Because out there, you are not important. You are having breakfast with an iPod touch in your ears and a MacbookPro infront of you? He will lower his voice and smile. Pretentious little *censored*


Back to Woman.

She decides against the full java breakfast I am having and settles for toast and eggs. She oscillates between her fork and her phone. Signs of a person uncomfortable being alone in a restaurant. Another thing that irks me. Why do we get or give, funny looks to people who just want to have a meal by themselves? We think they have no friends. We feel bad for them. We are the ones who deserve that pity. The ability to be by yourself is a gift. You are not trying to hide behind fake laughter at a dry joke your colleague just made. You are not trying to disguise your loneliness.


She is done with her toast and eggs. She did not order a drink. I wonder if that little detail will bother me all day today. Why did the woman at the cafe not order a drink? Because bigger questions I would rather avoid. I will dwell on the mundane.

Look around the cafe. This guy behind me.  Why is he reading the obituary page? I will get back to him. One day.


Back to woman

Woman just left. Even before I finished analyzing her. Oh well.


Cup empty. Now they will clear away the cup and leave my table devoid of any proof that I purchased anything. People who walk in will look at me and think I came here for the WiFi and cannot afford a cup of anything. The vapid things we worry about.They don't even have WiFi.

This day. I am stuck in traffic. I look out. Watch people. As I always do. One day, I will get arrested for it. This street guy. Pacing up and down on that middle section that divides a one way highway. I am sure there is a word for that. I am sure I am not interested in knowing what it is. He walks about 100 meters. Comes back. Walks again. He is crazy. I think. Because according to my cultured mind, only a crazy person would do that. Judgmental little thing I am. So are you. Comes back. Picks a piece of paper. Looks like a page out of magazine. It could be Forbes top 100. Who cares.

Glance around coffee shop. It's 9:25am. It's emptying out. Where do people go? I should follow one person one day.

He looks at the piece of paper. Intently. Gives the illusion of reading.  He drops it. He walks. Comes back to it.  Walks again. Traffic moves an inch. I don't. What difference does moving an inch make? I will move when there is space enough to actually move the equivalent of my car's length. Someone will hoot at me. I will ignore with indignation. I am that petty.

The sun is out. But its the sort of sun that is just bright without the warmth. I could write a whole post about that. Warmth-less sun. Like most relationships. How lucky I found parking right in front of the cafe! Every now and then, I get to look at my car.

He comes back. He stops. Glances at the paper again. With great annoyance, he  picks it. Shreds the piece of paper. With such vigor and purpose, it shocks me. I want to roll down my window and grab the pieces. Save them from scattering on the road and disappearing forever. Like catching tears of a loved one. I swear I can see his pain with every tear he makes. Tear the paper. Catch them like tears. Tear. Tears.

These two Caucasian women have just walked in. Each with an African baby. Go ahead Dark Angel. judge them. Next time. Too busy. They put the babies down. One starts screaming and running around the cafe. 

He walks away. Resolutely. And doesn't come back. The pieces are now scattered all over the road. Discarded. Punished.

I should probably order water. I want a Redbull.  I need to go buy shoes for a dinner coming soon.

What was in that piece of paper? What was the pull to it? Maybe, I think, it represented to him what was wrong with his world. It was bothering him. By how it was just sitting there. With no care in the world. While his fell apart. Something needed to take the blame. That paper. That was the culprit.

But why didn't he just walk away from it the first time? Because that's what we do? We keep going back to the source our problems?

Or maybe, because, he is crazy.

I have to pay the bill.