Dear Man in The Cafe,
I’m worried about you? Is everything alright? You’ve been nursing that same soy flat white for the last hour and a half as you stare at your laptop and type furiously.
I’m concerned about you. Are you working yourself too hard? As the people relax, chat and enjoy the company of others, you sit there alone – not engaging with anyone; not reacting to the toddler who is looking at you in awe.
I’m troubled by your lack of working environment. Is your wifi playing up? Are there people in your office that you want to avoid? Is your home-life an unhappy one? I sense that you are single – you certainly don’t wear a ring. Do you choose to work here to drown out the niggling doubts in your head? Do you need recognition from strangers that you clearly have heavy demands on your head?
I’m uneasy at the amount of stress you are carrying. Is it this tension that drives you to shoo away the toddler trying to retrieve one of his duplo blocks from under your table? Is it anxiety that causes you to shoot him withering looks as he drives his train to the edge of his table, close to yours and dangles it tantalisingly over. Not dropping it though; not causing a clatter. Is it mental strain that causes you to sigh as he has a vocal grumble at wanting to play with another child’s toy, whilst you are on the phone to someone clearly very important?
I’m fearful you are at breaking point Man in the Cafe. Is it usual for you to lose your cool so vocally and critically with strangers? You seem to feel the toddler, my child, was in danger of harming himself by playing with his trains on the floor and so close to the door. Do you often catastrophise? I find it perplexing, if he were in so much danger, why none of the employees or patrons of the cafe showed any concern at all – in fact I’d go so far as to say that some customers found him endearing. I understand toddlers can be really annoying and it was unacceptable of him to encroach on your space and take an interest in your laptop. For that I was profusely apologetic but I wonder if you struggle with empathy… and personal space… and interaction? I can see you are clearly well-trained in dressing people down so it surprises me you work in such an isolated manner.
I’m confused Cafe Man as to your concept of a public space. I was under the impression a cafe was a space for the public to sit and drink coffee and eat cake. It appears that I was wrong – it’s a place to write notes, type important things and make extremely important phone-calls. I was under the impression – having had an important job where I too used to make important notes, and type important things and make very important phone-calls – that this was called an office. Personally, I found this far more conducive to a work ethic as there weren’t irritating toddlers crawling around the table legs. However I bow down to your superiority – you are clearly superior, that much I could judge from your tone.
I wish you well Cafe Man. I hope you find some happiness and work through the issues that make you appear a condescending git to strangers. I hope you find a cafe that is a little larger and hopefully has a ban on small people – and trains – and mothers, as you clearly have a dislike or an intolerance for all three. And finally, I really hope you don’t find yourself sitting on a table next to a two year old who is really having a tantrum and playing up, with a tiger for a mother. She may not show as much restraint in her response to your chastising.
Karen (mum to the little angel who was actually really well behaved)
Have you ever had a public dressing down? How did you deal with it? Please share!