People always asked me why I visited the same coffee shop almost every day. The baristas and securities thought I live or work nearby, I don’t. My friends thought I was going after someone who works there, I don’t. And my colleagues, they stopped asking about this habit of mine many moons ago.
I’m not even sure why I keep on doing it, but I guess there’s always a beauty in mundanity. There are stories that lie in the things that we do daily. Take this Friday, for example:
8.30 p.m. — I arrived at the coffee shop. I almost always ordered the same thing, but that night I wanted something a little bit different.
“Is it the usual kak? Aceh tubruk?” asked the barista.
“Hmm, do you have anything with ginger?”
“Wait a minute … uuum … I don’t think so…”
“Oh…” I answered with an overreacting sad expression.
“But we can make it for you if you want!”
“Really? Then, the usual Aceh tubruk, and mix it with some crushed gingers.”
This kind of interactions, ladies and gentlemen, won’t happen anywhere else. Not even in that coffee shop, unless you are me.
10.00 p.m. — I was working with my laptop before a couple came and joined the table next to me. There were eight guys on that table, and adding the couple, we have a group of nine boys and one girl talking loudly next to me.
It’s a pretty common sight in a coffee shop, but what intrigued me the most is the girl. She was charming, with her glasses on and a small smile decorating her face. And her existence there was totally out of place.
But, seeing her expression changes throughout their time in the cafe is a joy on its own. She started with a look of discomfort, a look of someone who doesn’t want to be there. A few moments later, she started judging each of the guys one by one, saying “what the hell are you talking about?” only with her face. Then, they included her in the chattering, making her put out an awkward smile from time to time. And finally, she got comfortable, laughed with them, and actively involved in the conversation.
10.45 p.m. — One of the senior staff, someone who I think is the trainer for all of the baristas, came to the smoking area to smoke and charge his phone. I was sitting alone, I said hi, and he joined me on my table.
“Are you a filmmaker?” he asked.
“Me? Hahaha, no, I make video games.”
“Woah that sounds even better, what do they call people with your skillset … uum … I forgot what’s the name…”
“Yes! So you’re a programmer, right?”
“No, I just helped out with the writings and design.”
“Aaah okay, so if programmers want to make games, they come to you for the design?”
“Yeah, but it’s not visual design…”
“I know, you make the features and stuff, right?”
We talked about various other things afterward. About why he thought I was a filmmaker, about other coffee shops that basically are the competitors of this coffee shop, about how I can tell the difference between Bali and Aceh coffee beans but not with Aceh and Sumatra, about what people usually order in the cafe, and about the quality assurance going on to maintain the pride of the place.
“But yeah, a coffee shop isn’t only about the coffee. It’s also about the feelings you get when you’re inside. About the mood, the vibes, the place, and so on,” he explained.
“Yeah, there’s not that many people ordered your specialty blends.”
“There are a lot in this branch, but yeah the number is not as high as the casual visitors. I mean, I’m sure if we’re not being friendly with you, you won’t feel that comfortable visiting this place over and over again, right?”
“Hah, of course I won’t. Besides, I did my coffee shops pilgrimage a few years back, looking for the best place to wind down. In the end, I came back to this place, and once you get used to something … it sticks.”
11.30 p.m. — Two girls are sitting right in front of my table. They sat next to the glass wall on a small table. I usually just ignored them and glanced once in a while if I was bored. But one of them, this girl, she’s different.
She knows she’s pretty. She knows how to dress, how to move elegantly, and most importantly, she knows her worth. This kind of girl is pretty common in this cafe, but one thing that picked my attention the most is the way she sits.
She sat, facing the wall while talking to her friend. Over an hour of conversation, and not one single time she faced my direction. She hid her face from my sight using her back and her long her. And thanks to her, now I can’t focus.
How does her face look like? Why does she sit that way? Is she hiding something from me? Am I that hideous? Is she someone I know and doesn’t want to meet me (which is weird because there are so many empty seats)? Is she a celebrity? Did we match on a dating app and one of us ghosted away?
Midnight comes, and the cafe starts blasting songs loudly, softly telling the visitors that it’s closing time.
And something confused my naive testosterone-filled mind. It’s almost midnight, and the girls in front of me were touching up their makeups. I just sat there while packing up my laptops, slightly glancing at what they were doing. I mean, they really went out with the touch-ups.
Then it hits me. There are a lot of clubs nearby, and these girls are going clubbing. I can’t find the connections between her position and their plan to party, but hey maybe it really has something to do with it.
12.00-ish a.m. — I’m leaving the coffee shop. Had some chats with the baristas because some of them are going to be relocated in a few days. Had a few conversations with the securities, and more importantly … pet the cat that hang out in front of the cafe before driving back home.