I stand in the queue desperately trying to not tap my foot, fidget my fingers, or clear my throat at the two elderly ladies in front of me. I only wanted to grab a quick cuppa and be on my way, I glance out the shop to the bus stop praying that this isn’t the one day the bus decides to show up on time. I look at the stressed young girl behind the counter as she turns to glances first down the queue in the café that is building up and then through a doorway to where I presume a boss or a manager lurks ready to tell her off for the slightest error. She continues again to explain the menu to the two old ladies, they still don’t get it.
“What’s an English breakfast tea love, is that just a Tetley’s?”
“I think so,” the young girl says and then glances towards the doorway again.
“Emm… ok well I think we will just have a pot of that for two”, one of the ladies says and glances towards the second lady who nods. The young girl rushes off grateful that they have made a decision and starts clattering around quickly amongst the cups and the dishes, finally placing a teapot, two cups and a milk jug onto a tray in front of them. Then starting to ring it through the till.
“Is this the only menu you have love?” one of the older ladies speaks again. The young girl nods, clearly she’s not out of the hot water yet.
“ There is a specials board”, she says pointing to a blackboard on the café wall. The woman follow her hand to the board and stare at it for a few seconds.
“Oh, so do you not do toasted teacakes?”
“No, I’m sorry.”
“What kind of a café doesn’t do toasted teacakes?”, one of the ladies says to the other and they both take in the menu again. “Okay, well I guess we’ll have the soup”, she decides and the young girl quickly writes it down and goes through the doorway to the kitchen. After paying she stands and watches the old ladies try to readjust their bags and walking stick to try to carry the tray, “sorry, we had waitresses in our day”, the old lady says to the girl apologetically. After another quick glance to the doorway again, the girl smiles back at them. “It’s okay, I’ll come carry that for you”. She opens the small latched door that separates her from the queue. At that moment a young man that was next in the queue steps forward.
“No I’ll do that, you guys have taken long enough, I’ll have a cappuccino to go please”. He says loudly and rudely. Then snatches the tray and walks over to the first table in the café and slams the tray down. “There you go”, he says to the two stunned ladies, who shuffle into the booth quietly in shock.
At that moment the manager appears through the doorway. He looks at the size of the queue and starts to take my order but not before he has given the young girl a harsh glare. He is clearly far more experienced than her and both myself and the young man have our orders finished at the same time. He steps in front of me, ensuring he can get out the door first. Jerk, I think to myself.
As we walk near the old ladies both, I overhear one say to the other “I’m so sorry Millie, I thought this would be a nice treat to get you out, after Arthur…” The other woman lets out a little sob and quickly rummages in her handbag looking for a tissue, as she does so she knocks her stick walking stick out the booth. The young man before me, isn’t paying attention to them and as the stick slides out he trips over it sending both himself and the coffee flying. He lands heavily on the cardboard coffee cup, which spills it’s contents on his bright white shirt. As he gets up I quickly tuck the old ladies stick back into her booth and walk over to the man.
Stepping around him and the mess, I say “don’t worry mate, could have been worse, it could have been black coffee.” I give a wink to the old ladies and step out the shop. The young man follows me out the shop clearly wanting to take his anger out on me, but he is too slow I step onto my bus and wave from my window seat. The young man storms off down the street.
Karma, the foundation of all things good.