It's days like today that make me realise I really do love being that person behind the counter. Days where nothing extraordinary happens, where you could probably even measure the hours as they pass by depending on which regulars are passing through as they live out their typical Friday routines; like those two older gentlemen who always come in around noon for soup after their ride, and hot chocolate after their soup. I like these two. They smile a lot, and we discuss how busy (or quiet) the trails are today.
And then there's the two fathers with three small children between them who order some combination of coffees and breakfast rolls and beans on toast and cheesy toast and maybe some ice cream for after. They introduce themselves today, one of them saying, "We see you every Friday but we don't know your name." So we swap names, finally, after weeks and months of knowing each other in passing.
I love how these small relationships grow, relationships with people you know but don't know. You might start out as complete strangers, both following the silent social rules while playing out the roles of cafe slave and customer, but over time the two-dimensional roles are rounded out, and you both become People as details are filled in from conversations that expand in fragmentary patterns each time you interact, details filled in from the gleaning of little facts about each others lives.
Sometimes quite intimate details are shared, because there's a certain safeness and anonymity in the customer-cafe slave relationship, as if that counter between you operates as a vortex, and any information that passes over it is absorbed into a quiet confidentiality.
You may not know every facet of these people's lives, and to them you may just be yet another person who serves them their coffee on a regular basis, but it's these little human connections and the unravelling of strangers until they aren't really strangers anymore that keep me planted where I am. It's fascinating, and oddly rewarding. I like it.