On a good day I get out of bed at five-fifteen a.m for a six a.m start. I say six a.m start, but leaving my house at five fifty-five and sprinting to work is quite a start in itself.
An hour before the café officially opens, I take deliveries inside and put furniture outside amongst a host of other tasks, one of which is admittedly making myself coffee; ‘self-love is important,’ I assure myself.
At six-thirty I begin miming to the builders on their way to work that, ‘no, we are not open until seven,’ but give up the battle at six forty-five when a few regulars bustle inside. The first drink of the day is always a double espresso. On arrival, the next few early birds request their ‘usual’ order, although the double espresso is the only one I can ever seem to remember. I stand awkwardly, with an expression which suggests that the till may not be working until I receive a reminder. The reminder is given hastily bearing in mind the vigilance of the parking control officers on The Broadway. It’s common knowledge that they should all receive ‘employee of the year’ awards for their rigorous determination. Otherwise I use the excuse ‘still asleep’ or ‘didn’t sleep’. I hope I don’t graze their egos too much! Both excuses are usually true anyway, but I probably shouldn’t expand on that.
Once the regulars have settled down, the school children stroll into my periphery. They settle outside, toying with the sugar, the chairs and unfortunately, they don’t discriminate against cigarette ash either. I’m supposed to shoo them away but I am inside and they are outside. I do not wish to cross the border today.
At ten a.m the young mothers stroll inside. Minutes later, the first babycino (hot milk) hits the deck and I know it won’t be the only one. The young mother apologises profusely but it’s okay. I guess we can all say ‘been there, done that’. And of course, we’ll make another one; the quicker it’s made, the quicker the tears will stop; we don’t want the rivers of Babylon filling the shop.
Soon more staff will arrive to help out with the lunchtime rush but until then I’ll continue to run food and drinks, overhear snippets of of conversations and hope that a morning coffee can make someone’s day.