2nd The Reluctant Eavesdropper

Finally! The rain has stopped, and we have a beautiful morning. Perfect time for a quiet little coffee break

‘Cappuccino please and I’ll have a mug today. Thank you’. I settled into a little corner table overlooking the parklands and sighed contentedly in the cool autumn breeze.

‘Enjoy.’ As the waiter placed my coffee on the table
‘Thank you.’ I took my first sip. Bliss!

‘Charlene! I told you not to do that!’ My spoon clattered to the ground as the shrill voice behind me shattered my momentary solitude. My ears were still ringing when that was followed by another tirade. ‘Do it again and we’re going home! How many times do I have to tell you!’ Clearly being told two or three times didn’t cut it with Charlene who did it again – whatever it was – and with the screeching of a chair being pushed back across concrete and the equally loud screaming protests coming from the child being bundled into her car seat, they left.

Peace. Well almost. Hushed voices drifted my way from the couple beside me, ‘But you told me you’d paid for it!’ – she sounded just a little stressed
‘Yeah, well I didn’t – OK? It’s not the end of the world’ – he shot back.
‘But that means there’s no money for the flowers!’ – stifling sobs and wiping tears.
‘Oh well, you can do what you always do and max out another card! Or you could call it off?’

More screeching of chair legs on concrete as she stood and made her dramatic exit
‘Well, you can go to hell!’ she threw over her shoulder. Not so hushed now.
‘Everything alright here sir?’ from a concerned waiter to the deserted male
‘I’ll have a double shot expresso thanks’ – he replied, and I couldn’t help but notice he was looking surprisingly smug and happy with himself.

My shoulders relaxed and I took a long sip of my coffee which by now was ‘just warm’. ‘Aahh’ I sighed, nobody within earshot. Peace at last.

As I settled back into my reverie a group of young women, 20-something and all eyelashes, eyebrows, and fingernails, plonked themselves at the other end of the café. They ordered their skinny flat, chai latte, soy milk, half strength, long black, cappuccino coffees and settled into their ‘catch up’ with voices that could have potentially shattered glass and to which the rest of the café was subjected.

‘And like, I mean, she as good as called me fat! Me! Like, you know what I mean?’

‘Oh, I know. She can be a real cow sometimes. I mean it’s not like she can talk. That outfit she wore the other night. My God! What was she thinking! Like, I mean. Really!’

And then a third voice chimed in. ‘Yeah, but I don’t think she really means to hurt anyone. You know. Sometimes people say things without thinking.’ Hmmm, the conciliatory one I thought.

‘Yeah, well she should just zip it!’

I’m sure I wasn’t the only customer who would have liked them all to ‘zip it’! But alas, they continued to squawk and squeal, raising their sculptured eyebrows, fluttering their mink eyelashes, and flashing their manicured talons as they excitedly exchanged their expert opinions on everything. Why is it, I mused, that so many young women these days seem to feel that everyone within twenty paces is interested and wants to know every minute detail of their existence? Oh well, I smiled, the exuberance and confidence of youth

I tried to block out their conversation by focusing on the beautiful morning and the lushness of the surrounding parkland. However, the smug male from earlier was now onto his second espresso and in deep conversation with someone on his mobile, and I was subsequently assaulted by a one-sided conversation

‘Yeah, I know mate’
‘Yeah, you told me that’
‘Nope, can’t do that either. I just told you that won’t work’
‘Well, you can if you want to, but I can tell you now, that won’t work either.’
‘Yeah of course. I don’t mind if you want to get a second opinion and other prices, but in the end, I think you’ll find I’m right.’
‘No need to get abusive, I’m only being honest with you.’
‘Yeah, well same to you mate!’ More pushing back of chairs on concrete and a very definite slamming of a car door.
‘Can I get you anything else ma’am’ asked the waiter

‘Yes please. Could I have a large strong long black. Oh, and I think I’ll have that in a takeaway this time. Thank you.’

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