All around me, bombardment of news, events and happenings flood into my personal space.
Today, much like every day away from work, I become one of the masses once again. My transformation is slight, casual clothes and less of a burden, without the need to be somewhere sometime. My day didn’t start as I’d hoped mind, no. My body had other ideas, refusing point blank to allow me to wake at the desired hour, instead seizing upon an opportunity to eek out every minute of sleep afforded, as if it knew that I wasn’t at work.
That’s all very well, but I still needed to be somewhere to accomplish something. A mad rush follows lest I keep the overbooked mechanic waiting. I made it in time. As they duly worked on my ageing car, the boss dropped me at a local super store, you know, one of those places which sells practically everything, and as it happened, one I deliver to in my working role. The rude awakening saw me dash from the house, leaving behind hot tea and breakfast cooked by my long suffering partner in the sparse few hours we actually get together these days. I felt lousy.
Car safely in the hands of much needed repair, I duly accepted the lift to the retail park and wondered how I’d kill three plus hours. I kicked myself for having left my laptop on the back seat, aware that precious spare time could now be wasted. Then I thought about it. To my right, a coffee chain store brimmed with people lunching, chatter filled the numerous tables as a myriad of over stacked trolleys lined up along the far wall. The coffee aroma tweeted my senses. Cautious about the coming mechanics bill, I checked the availability of funds, picked a light sandwich and ordered a cappuccino.
The coffee, a refreshing caffeine hit a good hour overdue, was silky sweet and smooth. The ham and cheese toasted sandwich delivered to my table my a smiling waitress, deftly dodging the pushchairs, wheelchairs and innumerable shopping bags tethered to various chair legs. I sat, contemplating the hubbub around me, realising that an entire week had elapsed where I hadn’t seen civilisation. I did the inevitable in such a situation. I began people watching. A couple sat talking, their speech emphasised by hand gestures and facial expressions. Time revealed they were lovers, the tenderness though concealed shone through. An elderly gentleman sat with his wife, their tenderness none the less subdued despite their years together, shown in different ways. A napkin he unfolded for her, the cup placed just as she liked it.
Across to my left, mother and daughter fussed over a baby not more than 9 months old perhaps. The baby was adorable and clearly picked up on the attention he got from every passing woman of any age. The waitress stopped to coo, the baby boy duly beamed a smile to melt her, sending her scurrying off to collect abandoned trays with a giggle, an ‘awww’ and a broad smile. The coffee shop was in full flow, barely an empty seat. I sat in a corner at the window, the sofa comfy and inviting, unusual for a place with a fast turnaround itinerary.
Oddly, in this place of fast frenzy, amid a myriad of colours, races, religions and beliefs, I felt a strange sense of peace. People seemed happy, content in their worlds. It’s rare I get such an opportunity to just stop and look. It’s rare I get the chance to really see people in their everyday lives, to look at life from the same side of the glass. Sure, I see folk at work, but it isn’t the same. It felt as though for three hours, time stopped. I had nothing to do, no pressing appointment or thing to be done. Though I’m sure I could have occupied the time more productively, that short reprieve from a hectic existence made me feel connected once again to the world.