The corner of Sauchiehall and West Nile Street is home to a particularly unremarkable Starbucks. Sitting within a five minute walk from no less than four other identical coffee shops you might be forgiven for wondering why it should be here that he spends his evenings after work. He always drinks alone and the ambient music is (to his mind) always unpleasantly neutral. Reaching him only via a playlist that has been vetted by some corporate committee, Starbuck’s arbiters of taste, the CDs are periodically sent from HQ and are all the staff are allowed to play. Vibrations that simply are, noise that simply is, communicating little, lest something potentially offensive be heard. He knows this because he is an excellent listener and Baristas haven’t a lot to talk about. There is something important in this he is sure but decides that ultimately it’s not worth pursuing.
Shut up about that would you? You were going somewhere with this I assume
Right. The reason why it is this singularly average Coffee outlet that he chooses to spend his time are,
A) It is the closest to his office (ease is a central pillar of consumerism after all) and,
B) Two of the adjacent walls facing out onto either street are made entirely of glass, perfect for people watching
Really? That answer required two parts?
Yes. His ideal spot was right in the corner of the two window walls, on one of the barstools pressed up against the small outward facing tables. Despite the fact he sits a just few metres away from the people outside, and is even helpfully elevated to eye level, our man is able to remain quite unacknowledged by the crowds going about their way. He was, he thought, both inside and outside in this seat, a fact which pleased him. Sometimes he felt he could have profound thoughts in this environment, the idle chitchat and melodic monotony
offering up a kind of white noise that helped stimulate his incisive commentary. The ageing black cleaning lady he would often see making her way to work with three small, nearly imperceptible scars below her eyes, for instance. He had read somewhere that these were tribal tattoos Witch doctors would give to young women when they reached maturity. In Nigeria maybe, he couldn’t recall. She was without in a more tangible way than he was, and no doubt had more interesting things to say, then she turned the corner. Maybe she was going to clean an office block similar to the one he worked at, maybe she wasn’t. In all likelihood the life he was even then beginning to generate for this woman was entirely fanciful. He thought he might have touched something important with this but then he thought better of it. He did that a lot.
Yeah I noticed. Aren’t Starbucks offering a promotional Espresso shot from Nigeria at the moment?
No that’s Ethiopia I think. Anyway, draining the remnants of his venti coffee cup and placing it on the counter, tokenistic gestures of thanks and goodbyes dutifully given and received, he makes his way to the door. Coat on, fists in pockets and hood up, he heads west along Sauchiehall Street. His head a caffeinated engine of idle thought.
A desperately needed change of scenery, this guy needs to get a grip.
You’re no doubt absolutely right.
Who even is this guy? What has he got to say? Where is this going?
It’s going nowhere, it’s done. I’ve run out of words.
What a shitty story.