Watching the World Go By
Published by James Gallagher on .
This article takes approximately 3 minutes to read.
I enjoy people-watching. On my walks, between trying to avoid getting to close to people, I often find myself thinking about others. I sometimes pause to smile. I ocassionally say “hello,” or exchange a similar greeting. These interactions remind me of our shared humanity. Everyone can say hello. A hello can even brighten up someone’s day. You never know, as my mother would say.
I was sitting in Costa Coffee earlier today sipping on a flat white with soya milk. I am not going to have soya milk again in my coffee. It was too overpowering. The coffee was still delicious and not because of the taste. Something else came into the equation: my surroundings.
Earlier today I started to read an article on coffee tasting. The author explored how tasting coffee involves all five senses. When the author mentioned sight, I was slightly taken aback. Coffee has a color; usually a brown. This was not the only sight to which the author was referring. The ambiance in which I consume my coffee plays a role in its taste. I feel like my coffee was improved by what I saw around me.
I decided to go to Costa because it is often busy. People order coffees to take away often. I decided to sit in another place in the cafe today so that I could see the line of people waiting for their coffees a bit more. I’m glad I did. In my chair, I just sat and watched the world go by. I attempted to draw a few items on my table to varying degrees of success. I am proud of my spoon; my saucer could have gone a lot better.
As I sat, I saw all different types of people come in. There was a young boy who just wanted a cake. There were people who I remembered from younger years in high school who were meeting for a coffee. One of them ordered an iced latte. Most people ordered to take away. Some people stayed in the cafe. Of those people, some just sat and, like me, watched the world go by. Others had friends with whom to converse.
I enjoy sitting in cafes and watching as people go about their business. I liked it in Costa today because the world felt a little bit more alive. People were coming and going in large numbers to order coffees. I wonder what the people who took their coffees away were doing. When I heard someone say that they wanted to take away their coffee, this came to mind. Maybe they were going to see a friend afterward. Maybe they are driving to another town and want a pick me up. Maybe they are picking up coffee for a family member. I was left to wonder.
This is a defining characteristic of so many coffee shops: they bring people together of all backgrounds. I sat in Costa as people young and old ordered coffees. Iced cappuccinos. Honeycomb lattes. Cappuccinos. Everyone has their own preferences. One drink, coffee, brought us all together.
I remember that as I walked out there was an old man with whom I exchanged a smile. Unfortunately, the mask I was wearing obscured my smile. I nodded and he nodded back. We will likely never talk. I did not see him until I left because my chair was facing the other way. I am not sure if he was with anyone but I am sure that he was having a good time. If I was not just watching the world go by, I would have missed that interaction.
On days where I feel bored, I try to remind myself that watching the world go by is indeed its own activity. We’re all living our own lives. Sometimes it’s nice to give up some of my time to see what everyone else is doing. This year has been unusual to say the least. To see people out and about is something which I do not want to take for granted. The coffee may not have been as good as others I have had. The people who I saw and heard more than enhanced the experience.