Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...

20/11/2018

The Table

The table was occupied when I arrived. Two quiet older women. Silently sitting. Sipping tea and gazing into the middle distance. A sliver of conversation passed between them, almost inaudible. As one, they stood, shrugged on their matching but differently coloured quilted coats. Equally quietly they donned hats and paid their bill and left.

The table was cleared of two china cups and saucers neatly left in place, chairs pushed back firmly in place - it hardly needed cleaning.

Next a group of men came in. Old boys - chuckling at a previously shared joke as they came through the door. Regulars. Although only five initially, tea for seven was ordered and three poached eggs on brown toast and bacon and eggs on brown bread for two. No sooner than that order had been passed on to the kitchen, the missing two pottered in. They added to the order. Apparently all seven men order the same meals every time.

There was a gentle hubbub of deep male voices as they ate and talked, laughed and ribbed each other. A good group. Friends.

They left replete, courteous and politely jovial.

The table was cleared again, despite the quantity of plates, mugs and tea pots - there was still an element of tidy order. It took a couple of trips to take all the cutlery and crockery to the kitchen, table wiped and chairs straightened.

A new party. A party of four. A little disheveled and disjointed. They roamed the space separately, checking out tables finally, agreeing on the table.

They were restless, checking their cellphones, only really communicating with brusque grunts or short curt sentences.  Four meals were ordered, large platters of food, pots of tea and toast.  The kitchen stepped up the activity and with practiced movements and actions - bacon, eggs, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, sausages, hash browns and black puddings were being cooked as plates were warmed and teapots filled.

Food served, the four sullenly fell apon their plates - it was strange - they appeared to only share the table, their consumption was treated as a solitary affair - roughly attacking the plates, lifting forks rapidly and shoving food in quickly, chewing once or twice then repeating the attack, lift, shovel, chew, swallow, attack, lift, shovel, chew, swallow. Only briefly halting to drain mugs of tea.

As quickly as they ate, they left the table, abandoning their chairs noisily. One of the men came to pay, the other three ranged again around the cafe. The women both walking quickly with their hands tucked under the apposing arm in a strange crossed arm position, the remaining male moved in a slouching lope as he left the building and folded himself up in their parked vehicle.  Hardly a word said between them - they left.

The table was strewn with butter pat wrappings, sugar twist papers - torn and discarded. Tea slops and food remains were scattered everywhere.  Plates still full of half eaten food. The table, yet again was cleared, chairs replaced. Calm normality returned.

Three times the table was used in a short three hour slot. If it could log each time it was used, what would it say?

And why was I table watching?
Every Tuesday, I get to see a difference slice of life while I help at a local cafe - spending four hours clearing tables, washing up and putting away.
And observing.

11 comments:

  1. That was fascinating. I love people watching. Particularly as people pass me and I give them a big beaming smile. Some just smile back and keep going, some actually jerk in amazement that someone is smiling at them. Then there are others who come and talk. Strangers who connect. Love life. And people watching. Give a smile and get one back.

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  2. Meeting with friends for a chat and tea and cake is the most lovely treat for some, for others a café experience is a normal daily occurrence and taken for granted. For me, its the former.... and I always leave the table tidy to make the job of the waitress etc easier. I guess I was brung up proper!

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  3. What a neat post. Sadly the third table is a sign of the times. 'Real' communication is being lost and it's such a shame when people don't know how to hold a conversation. Fascinating. Enjoyed your glitter post also :)
    Diana

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  4. I too love watching people. Cleaning tables would be perfect for me too. What a mix of people we have in this world. Loved reading this post :) B x

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  5. What interesting observations.

    Years ago M. and I went into a cafe. He asked me what I wanted, the answer was "don't know, don't care"
    "But you need to eat something"
    "OK, order for me and I'll eat it"

    I went off, found a table. I have no recollection what food arrived, but I ate it. We didn't talk to each other, we just ate. Then paid, left and the staff may well have also asked what the hell was up with that couple in the corner?

    We had just left Ollie's body at a private pet crematorium and knew that if either of us spoke to the other, then we'd both have collapsed in very messy, emotional puddles.

    Sorry I have been completely absent recently :(

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  6. Aha, people watching which is quite enthralling. I love your descriptions. Thanks for sharing & take care. BTW, on one of our outings just recently we observed a group of farmers who frequent a small cafe on Thursdays for lunch & that was fun to see & hear.

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  7. Great little insight into three quite different groups of people.

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  8. People watching is always entertaining. I was interested in the differences between the different diners. The Hubs and I regularly go out to eat on most Sunday evenings and I find it interesting to watch the other diners. Since Sunday evening is Senior Day, I've noticed the same people each week. On one Sunday, we enjoyed laughs and conversations between our table and 2 others. Such fun. As we were leaving, I saw several other tables with their occupants either staring into space, talking on their cellphones (one of my pet peeves, BTW) it just looking at their phones, totally ignoring each other and those around them. I think this is so sad.

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  9. What fun to be able to observe people without them realising! I too like to leave a clean table (and floor!). I only look at my phone when in a cafe if it rings or a text arrives.... I'm not being anti-social, but it is the main way people can contact me....

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  10. That was great. I too love to people watch. I always try and leave a clean table. I always ignore my phone, especially if I am in my favourite cafe in Totnes where if you are on your phone the owner lets you know subtly of his displeasure of the mobile.

    Julie xxxxx

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  11. If that table could talk what would it have to say? What is it about people watching that we all seem to love doing? xx

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