Things you learn from sitting in a shop.

Three years ago I enthusiastically took a part time, very part time, well a Saturday only job. My job description was not very complicated, I was to be the shop assistant for a little clothing boutique. I expected that I would get bored, that I would meet annoying spoilt rich ladies with huge handbags and terrible Botox, which I did, but what I did not expect was that I would learn so much about life.

Sitting at my shiny white desk looking out at the world outside I saw many an odd thing, I became a ‘people watcher’ extrordinaire. I didn’t even have to know what people were saying, I didn’t need sound to know exactly what was going on. Next to the shop was a popular coffee shop, and the regulars I became accustomed to were not always clients of my shop, but people enjoying a Saturday coffee, every Saturday, like when I say every Saturday – I mean every Saturday. I felt I knew these people, but I remained an invisible shop assistant that they never knew existed. For me that’s what I felt was quite exciting, as It was like having my own reality show to watch, that was all mine.

Through my 3 years of working I realised that humans are creatures of habit, that they are predictable, That humans live out their day-to-day routines, barely looking for change, I also learnt that life goes on, that no matter what happens, life carries on, life doesn’t pause for you, doesn’t wait for you to catch up, life happens ready or not. I realise these aren’t life altering epiphanies, but these are things you’ve always been told but that don’t become real until you see them. Well for me at least, they became reality. These epiphanies – if I can call them that, were revealed to me though the ‘stars’ of my very own reality T.V show right outside my shop window.

For me, the excitement, came through seeing the cycle of life. One Saturday a middle aged couple who had been coming to this coffee shop for as long as I could remember arrived with a baby Jack Russell. The thought that this couple were ‘puppy people’ tickled me, as I had never seen them smile, and one would assume that people who liked animals, like smiling. They were a hardy plump looking couple with tanned leathery skin, and now they had an adorable little puppy, this was too interesting. It was at this point that I really started to pay attention to what happened outside my shop window. Every Saturday They came for coffee and every Saturday I saw their little Jack Russell, as the Saturday’s flew by I saw little ( let’s call him Jack for the sake of it) Jack grow into what can only be described as a grumpy old man. Only three years in and Jack has a matching snarl to those of his owners.

Another more entertaining story of growth and the circle of life, was the black van family. Every Saturday a black van pulled up in front of the shop. From the van emerged a little village, okay not quite, but there was a couple and their three children, so if you ask me that’s basically a village. It is my assumption, derived from my excellent detective skills, that these children were either the same age or very close to the same age. In the beginning these enthusiastic parents brought their three little children (who I fondly came to know as the devil children), for a coffee shop outing. Holding their hands merrily and enjoying some good ol’ family bonding time. However this did not last long. As the Saturdays progressed, so did the children ability to become devilish increase. Saturday after Saturday these parents become more pale, more drained and more zombie looking. This mini zombie apocalypse resulted in a, let’s say alternative, family bonding technique. This technique consisted of the children being left in the van while their parents enjoyed a peaceful coffee. Now they did not neglect their little devils, they sat by a table right by their van, windows rolled down so they could occasionally check if the kids had grown their horns yet. But the van could not contain them and they learnt how to use the hooter and they had a party in there. Seeing this the parents sometimes tried to release them from captivity, which resulted in them literally running around screaming like wild things. I fondly call them devil children as over time when they where released, they used their new found freedom to run along my beautiful, just cleaned windows, banging on them and screaming and leaving little smudges of evil. I tried to avoid eye contact because in all seriousness they scared me. Nothing scares me more than child psychopaths – there’s just no reasoning with them, and I was sure that was what they were – devil children!

There were also the other regulars that I grew fond of – There was the group of men, that I can only describe as the Mafia breakfast club – the macho, secretive, smoking and aggressive coffee drinkers who met every Saturday. The mom and daughter duo who had their annual coffee dates. The extremely handsome pairing of real life barbie and ken, grabbing their trendy iced coffee or flat white. The “had just been to gym”, “trying hard to lose weight” mom and daughter, who then grabbed a chocolate milkshake to go. (Treat yo self right?)

There was also a sad side to this reality T.V show however. I witnessed the mental degradation and disappearance of who I call the running tutu man. Three years ago this man had a job and walked to from his work every Saturday, but something clicked, Week by week he started looking odder, to the point where he started wearing a pink tutu. Now being honest, at first I found this hilarious, seeing a grown man in his tutu run past the shop every Saturday. Until he just disappeared and stopped running past the shop, I don’t know where he went or what became of him, but I now feel guilty for chuckling and not doing anything. There was also the middle aged, slightly “worn for wear’ looking man who walked his, who I assumed was his, elderly mother. She was so old and fragile, but everyday Saturday without fail, they had their morning walk, until they didn’t. Then there was the young girl, she was about 12, she had bad pigmentation and walked the streets selling stickers for money. She was always by herself and she never wore a smile, she had sad eyes, and did not see that life could be so much more.

All these characters and more, kept me intrigued, kept me thinking and wondering about life. I felt and still do feel that I know them. Today I decided it was time to leave my Saturday job, not without sadness, as I have learnt so much, they have all taught me so much. Goodbye Saturday people, and thank-you.

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