Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sheffield Midland Station

What is it with these chain coffee outlets? Not that you frequent them out of choice, but if you are traveling by train, at certain stations, the choice is limited.

Why can't the people who work in these places take a bit more interest in what they are serving? What can't they understand that there is something in between a double espresso and a small americano (a.k.a. watery piss)? With a double espresso they don't even fill up the cup - it's too short, even for you.

You have tried so many ways of asking for something in between. A half full americano, please. A double espresso, please, but can I have it in a bigger cup topped up with a bit of extra water. Please. A small americano with only half the water you'd normally make it with. A third of the water you'd normally make it with. No, I only want it half full please. Yes, a quarter of the water you'd normally make it with.

And all of these requests have resulted in a small americano just 1cm less full than normal. Or exactly the same as normal. I just let it run through to fill it up. Is that okay. Sorry I forgot. Any cakes or pastries at all?

And once: Are you sure you wouldn't like to upgrade that to a medium?

You know from experience that you are unlikely to get a good coffee. Yet you keep trying. On this particular occasion because you have a free coffee from a 'loyalty' (ha!) card to use up. Eventually the scalding bucket of watery piss will cool down enough to sip. You have realised recently that with the right train network, it's better to get your coffee on the train itself. But when you find yourself 20 or 30 minutes early for that train, what can you? You can't sit on the platform without a coffee, can you?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Cherry Tree, Sheffield

On the way to work. There are seats outside, but it's a bit too chilly. You sit in, but facing the window, naturally. Here you usually order a black coffee, which you know gets you a good, strong americano. The guy who runs this place used to make the coffee at Cafe #9, so you're in safe hands.

A man walks past outside. Late 20s? He has two bags, both over the same shoulder - a large rucksack and a smaller bag that you can't see so well. His 'free' hand holds a cigarette. You've never really understood people smoking whilst walking down the street, but they probably have to do it more these days.

He has the air of a man leaving. He's looking around as he walks and you imagine that he is leaving the city, taking in the familiar surroundings as he goes, knowing that he is not going to see them again for some time. If ever. You imagine that he has decided to walk from his house or flat - near here you guess - to the bus or train station, just so he can look at these places he knows and bid them farewell.

You see this guy for 10 seconds at the most. What is it about his demeanour that suggests all of this to you?