The Line-Up

In the neighborhood coffee shop…


Balding Man with glasses, early 50s, wearing casual clothes in the manner of someone not used to wearing casual clothes, sits unnaturally erect and makes several phone calls to people along the lines of, “How can you be watching the baby and sleeping at the same time?” and “Hey! I know you said you were busy, but just checking one more time! Movie? You want to see that movie? (*pause*) Right, I know. How about tomorrow? (*longer pause*) Are you busy New Year’s Eve? (*pauses, then blurts:*) You’re gorgeous, you know that?” Soon, lowers voice and conducts earnest conversation I can no longer hear.


Woman, 40-ish, semi-wet black curly hair, glasses, squinting intensely at computer screen, pile of paper at her side, politely ignores everyone around her, especially 50-ish man when he walks up to her and says with false cheer, “You gettin’ everything done?


Young woman, early 20s, brown wispy hair pulled back in a bun, chomps gum and flips pages in enormous textbook, picks up call after call on her cell. Something’s wrong. It sounds medical.


Man, late 40s, looks accustomed to yachting and fine wines, yet somehow reads like he can’t afford it himself. Red t-shirt, gold watch, spiky hair, leathery face. Sees me studying his shoes (white Shaqs) and faux focuses on keyboard.


Woman, 60s, overweightish, dressed in loud halter top, tan capris, white socks and partially untied tennis shoes. Loudly proclaims disappointment that they’re out of whole grain bagels, sighs and settles for cheese pastry and cafe mocha with whipped cream.


Woman, soon-to-be-40, blondish, tiredish, fiddling with persistent sun spot on lower chin that won’t go away, contemplating explaining to husband that when she told him yesterday she didn’t blog during working hours, she didn’t mean today.


Updates: Semi-wet black curly hair lady spurned another advance from laptop-toting business man walking with feverish strides.

Balding 50-year-old tells person on phone, “I’m lonely,” just not in those words.


18 thoughts on “The Line-Up”

  1. You’re like Agent 99 from “Get Smart”. Just don’t let anyone see you talk into a shoe…

    Very fun. I’ll check back later. Children need to be fed darnit.

  2. “Woman, soon-to-be-40, blondish, tiredish, fiddling with persistent sun spot on lower chin that won’t go away, contemplating explaining to husband that when she told him yesterday she didn’t blog during working hours, she didn’t mean today.”

    This one sounds a bit familiar.


  3. Very funny. I’m going to pay better attention to my coffee shop patrons next time I’m in for my double tall, skinny no foam latte with chocolate sprinkles. ;)

  4. Stay classy San Diego.(sorry couldn’t resist)
    Overweigthish 60’s and I may be kindred spirits.
    Just found you, love it. Ill be back.
    Come visit me some time.

  5. Redneck, in a faded black tee-shirt, John Deere ballcap, holey Levi’s, and work boots spattered with dried mud stands at the counter and loudly complains: “The g-d lat-tea costs three DOLLARS? And what’s the deal with these SIZES? They have perfectly good coffee at the Wawa, I’ll not be coming here again.”

  6. LMAO @ Woman, 60s, overweightish settling for the cheese pastry and cafe mocha with whipped cream. brilliant. and so typical.

    btw, i expect a post like this every time you observe the coffee shop patrons.

  7. I really like this post. It reminds me of a creative writing assignment I had in high school. We had to write in notebooks and I wrote descriptions of the people on the bus on my way to work I think. Anyhow, great post.

  8. 40s woman, super pale from her obsessive compulsion for double-digit sunscreen, worrying her hair color may have come from the wrong box this time, assumes she can mask it all with a great pair of cheap earrings, insists on saying ‘large’ rather than ‘venti,’ loves this post.

    I spend so much time gawking around at other people that I never get anything done when I’m “working” in these environments.

  9. Really exceptional addition to your blog. You’re a really good writer in general, but to me, THIS is where you shine; These little character studies and human snapshots. I’m actually really touched reading this.

    My husband and I were talking last week about what super power we would want. Feeling irritable and cynical, I said that I wanted the power that little Billy Mumy had in the old twilight zone episode. He could just wish people away into the corn field when they annoyed him. I reasoned that there are far too many of us on the planet anyway and that most of them weren’t worth my time. Now I just feel awful. You’re a much better person than I am. You seem to see people as beautiful and interesting and intrinsically valuable. I just don’t.

  10. I love people watching. It is far more interesting than working. I usually end up getting caught up in it. :) Thanks for helping me people watch from hundreds of miles away.

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