03 April, 2008

Intrusive Talk

We’re sitting in “our” café near Houston and Perry street; enjoying the tea, fresh orange juice, and free WiFi. As far as we can see, the place is just called Café. At least that is what the sign out front states.

The people working behind the counter are very polite and efficient. They don’t get flustered. They are as cool as cucumbers even when the customers line-up is back up out onto the street. A lot of Spanish banter can be heard between the customers and the employees of the shop. This place is about as local as we could hope to find.

Unlike many of the other places we have been in, they don’t mind their customers spending a lot of time on computers or reading the full edition of the NYT. Actually, they seem to like us loiterers. There are shared winks, smiles and the occasional piece of conversation that includes us in its golden glow.

A woman in her mid-thirties enters. She’s dressed to the nines and dotting the newest bluetooth cell phone. She walks up to the counter, talking very loudly, intrusively so, to a colleague or friend on her phone. The woman behind the counter waits patiently while the bluetooth lady tells her friend to take a photo of the shoes and send it too her as an attachment. These must be some Very Important shoes, for she speaks about them with the same seriousness as others talk about what form of cancer treatments they are going to get.

In between this very earnest discussion about the possible merits of the shoes, the bluetooth lady places a complicated order for a cup of coffee. There are a lot of things that have to go in into the cup and a lot of other things that are not to go in the cup, it is, from a layperson’s point-of-view, almost indecipherable complicated procedure.

After, yet, fifteen minutes, the woman has her cup of coffee and has finished talking on the phone and leaves the café; already dialling the next person.

The woman next to me shakes her head and rolls her eyes. She tells us how another customer did the same thing last week. She was so pissed off being forced to listen to the fellow’s mundane conversation, that she started to read her newspaper article out loud in the same volume as the fellow on the cell phone.

I thought that this is quite an ingenious way to react. Maybe we should all carry around some higher form of literature which we whip out and read out loud whenever we are sitting on a train, or standing in a grocery line, or wherever and feeling put upon.

Would you have the guts to do this?


  1. I love your writing! What a great little story!

  2. THAT is an awesome idea. Especially with the (awful) news that cell phones are soon to be permitted on airplanes.

    I think the type of literature we read out loud in reaction to this bad behavior should be bodice ripper romance novels. The kind with Favio on the cover.