Friday, August 22, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 32

Go people watching. 

Watching people can be fun. If they’re interacting in meaningful ways. I tried this challenge in airports recently, thinking that would provide the perfect place for people watching.

Wrong. I came away with very little. 

People in airports don’t interact. Much. They hardly make eye contact and shuffle around each other in search of a spot to settle into their own gadget bubble

Coffee ~ My fuel of choice
But not so if you’re in a local cafe.

I gave this challenge another shot this week in a busy Melbourne eatery. Rel Mollet and I have been known to talk the afternoon away in this establishment, so I arrived early to write a few scenes for my wip and watch the people around me, because once Rel joined me for lunch, I knew the people watching would be over.

This time, I hit the jackpot. People slipped into their regular tables all morning, greeted by the owners with smiles and hugs and warm banter.

Mums with toddlers took up the rear outdoor garden area, where a gas heater kept big and little people warm on the chilly winter morning. 

A young mum came in on her way to work for a take-away coffee, desperate for fuel after a long night with a sick baby. 

A couple arrived for morning tea with their trainee guide dog ~ a handsome lab they introduced as Satin. (Not another name that sounds like it.)

A teacher gobbled coffee and cake and marked a wad of maths tests.

A trio came in, many weeks since their last visit, excited to share they’d been in the US on teen camps as part of their church’s ministry initiative. 

Another young mum came in with her toddler and new born, Lilly. The owner’s wife dropped her tea towel to grab the bub for a quick cuddle and we all melted to see love poured on someone so new to the world. 

Yet another mum came in with her beaming toddler, Sarah. Their cafe stop the tail-end of little Sarah’s weekly swimming lesson. Sarah wore a polka dot skirt and juggled a bundle of coins. Lots of 50c pieces. Her proud mama shared with the owners how Sarah had dunked her head ‘underwater’ for the very first time that morning and was now eager for her prize, a strawberry milkshake. The owner added his own praise and delivered the milkshake with suitable fanfare to ‘our super swimmer.’ He made that little girl's day. The celebration continued when Sarah and her Mummy left to visit Daddy at the fire-station where he works. 

Sarah had only just left when young Ada arrived with her mama. Another plate of chips was delivered to hungry bellies with, ‘Every time I see you, Ada, you’re taller and taller.’ And in that moment, I think I almost saw Ada gain another inch. 

Cozy Melbourne Cafe 
In the lull between breakfast and lunch, the owner sat at the front window for a plate of eggs and bacon and long read of the newspaper. His wife snuck around him to peek at a story which caught her eye before leaving him in peace with his coffee. 

But even in that moment of solitude, the connectedness of this cafe remained. The sense of intimacy and community so palpable it didn’t take much to realise why this stop delivered, and my airport challenge failed.

When someone cares to ask another what their day’s already delivered, when babies are celebrated and when achievements cheered, people return the courtesy with warmth. A smile. A story. 

And in all this, the blessing was mine to consider how sweet it is to watch people in a place where they know they’re accepted and valued for who they are. 

I hope you take the opportunity to ask someone how their day looks, today.