ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: A trek to the city
© Another Day in the Country
The “Big City” for me is Wichita, so when I say, “We’re going to the big city,” it means either it’s an airport run or my sister is getting her haircut. I usually go along, just for the heck of it.
While she is getting beautiful, I go to Trader Joe’s and check out the groceries, or hang out at the Barnes and Noble bookstore — I can spend an hour easily looking at books.
This time we were early for the appointment so we stopped at Panera Bread for brunch. In the country, it’s usually the retired farmers who gather for coffee in the middle of the morning at the drug store or the gas station that offers donuts — it’s the ‘good ole boys’ gossiping.
However, at a coffee shop in the city, it’s a different crowd. I love people watching and this proved to be a perfect opportunity.
Across from us were three yuppie-looking young mothers in exercise outfits with iPads in front of them. A fourth joined them — obviously, a “newbie” because she stands waiting on one leg then the other, hoping for the call to pick up her food and she didn’t have a computer.
They were planning something — a parent/teacher function, a neighborhood Christmas barbecue, a Tupperware party (nope, wrong era). I wanted to ask them what they were doing, but I didn’t.
Across from them sat an older woman, nursing her coffee and looking up often. She was constantly checking the door. Eventually, she was joined by an unhappy looking twenty-something girl who obviously needed encouragement. She was slovenly dressed.
“This must be her daughter,” I decided, “and she’s trying to find a job. Well, she’s obviously late getting here. Maybe that’s why she has trouble finding work.”
On the side of the room there was an immigrant family sitting at a big table. Parents and adult children. I wondered if this coffee shop was terribly different from the kind they were used to. The women, dressed in shades of gray had scarves over their heads. The men, in various stages of balding, talked animatedly in some foreign language, with their father.
A young Asian mother sits in a booth with her little girl who is dressed in a tutu with a big bow on her head — either coming from or going to ballet class. She’s teaching her daughter manners and showing her how to behave in a coffee shop. It was sweet!
There’s a 30-something man in the corner selling something to a Spanish speaking younger guy who is listening eagerly and nodding. Are they finding him a job? Enrolling him in school? After a bit, a younger woman hunting for something similar joined them. Is this coffee shop his place of business?
A young couple, obviously courting, comes in a sit at a booth. He hesitates, deciding whether to sit across from her or beside her and makes the wise choice to sit across. They make heavy eye contact, smiling.
Three guys at a table in the middle are having coffee and bragging about their exploits. They are all laughing and waving their arms. It must have been fun!
Two businessmen in suits also sit in a booth. One is dominating the conversation. Is he flirting? He’s definitely selling something. Himself? He’s leaning across the table with a big smile. His eyes are dancing. I don’t think this is about work!
In the city, there are so many things to see.
Out of the window of the coffee shop, you can see a big gray building with just a number on the front: 1151. There’s evidently no need to advertise the name of the company. It’s the address that’s important.
If you are at this address, you know why you’re there. I decide it must be medically related.
There’s an older couple having coffee — just coffee — at the table next to us. They look like they’ve just come from the gray building — maybe a doctor’s appointment. They are subdued; quietly sipping their coffee — no warm French bread, no elegant salad, no cup of soup or flakey chocolate croissant. Just coffee, and cream for her.
There are two older women sitting at a corner table in the sun. They aren’t in a hurry. They aren’t talking. Companionable. One had a Greek Salad with noodle soup — definitely not the kind of noodle soup her grandma used to make. The other had a spicy Thai salad. They are finished eating but they still sit there in the coffee shop.
“My hair appointment isn’t for another 15 minutes,” says the younger of the two.
They are sisters. You can tell because they look alike. The older sister just nods.
It’s another day in the country but they’re in the city, so, she’s writing her column on her iPhone!
Last modified Dec. 19, 2019