I’ve been frequenting my favourite local cafe a couple of times a week since I went fully freelance in August, and I’m starting to feel really at home there.
In previous years, I’ve always preferred being anonymous in cafes. At one time, I would stop off at a particular Starbucks regularly on the way to work. One day, the barista greeted me by reeling off my complicated usual order – and I never went back there again.
But now, I quite like the idea of being recognised and welcomed by familiar staff in a familiar setting.
My regular ‘cafe’ days have become Monday and Friday, but I definitely get more done there than I do at home, so I’m thinking about expanding that to include Tuesdays, and maybe also Thursdays. I’ll give it a try and see how it goes – as well as how that much tea and coffee affects my budget…
I try to get there around half an hour after the cafe opens at 8am, settle in at my favourite table and enjoy a decaf almond milk latte while I get set up for my writing and editing session. I stop around 12:30pm for lunch – halloumi, sucuk sausage and mushroom omelette with salad if I’m feeling good, or one of the several awesome breakfast options if I’m not – then carry on working until around 4pm.
During that time, I’d like more green tea than I generally get. I’ve never been very good at attracting the attention of wait staff, especially when I’m concentrating on my work, and they often get very busy. I’m glad of that, since it suggests the cafe will remain open long-term, but I feel bad that I’m taking up a table all day, and not really spending that much money.
So, the week before I went on holiday, I struck up a conversation with one of the waitresses, asking her name and introducing myself. I said I’m pretty much guaranteed to want more tea, if I’m not already drinking some, and she said she’d ask more often if I want anything else. Then she plucked up the courage to ask me about my writing, and we got chatting about my books.
On Thursday, after my week away, I took copies of both novels in and there happened to be a stretch of half an hour or so when I was pretty much the only customer, so I gave them to her. She was very excited to receive them, and even more so when I offered to sign them for her. She insisted on paying full retail price, and threw in a free Kit-Kat!
It was a really fun encounter and I’m looking forward to chatting more with her when I go back in next week.
The woman who owns the cafe is always there on her own when I arrive and she knows my initial order now, as well as where I prefer to sit. I’ve told her about the desire for more tea, too, so hopefully I’ll be more hydrated in future, as well as supporting the cafe with more business.
I’m only a very small fish in a very small pond – but it’s a very lovely pond, and I’m delighted to have found it and become a feature there.