Outside the door of my shop, there is shouting. Tradespeople gathering for morning tea, taking all the parking spaces. They wear orange and blue; safety vests, gloves, and there is a helmet on the ground. Next to that, a phone, and a coffee allowing steam into autumn. They lean over utes, sit on the pavement, back against my window, a bookshop. They don’t look in. They are smoking, checking phones, holding paper bags, staring at the ground. Eating.
One worker is outraged. In the bakery there were some old ladies who had Seriously Held Up The Queue. One had argued about, well, nothing, and the other couldn’t see the pies. They had taken a long time. Mate!
I imagined the tradespeople in the bakery, shuffling in massive boots, watching the savoury slices sliding into other people’s fucking paper bags. Unable to shunt the queue forward because Alice and Gwen were too small for a proper confrontation.
I heard the complaints.
‘Oh my God!’
‘Why take so long? Bring your glasses. Jesus. It was like, 25 mins. WTF! People have to eat.’ The tradesperson speaking, a woman, is glum.
The others, all men, listen politely and nod properly; It Is Not Right.
One man is leaning on a ladder. He has placed all his stuff on a plank that is resting across the ladder in the back of one of the utes. She bangs the plank for emphasis. He holds the plank steady, watching his coffee. He says, ‘Yeah.’
She says, ‘But the lamingtons are good.’
Another person says, ‘Could of eaten three!’
Someone asks, ‘Were you scared of ’em?’
“Those old ducks?’
She says, ‘Yeah!’
And they all laugh, leaning back, relaxed, looking through my open door and not seeing it, a bookshop.
But none of them move.
‘You go Leo, you dickhead.’
When I next look up, they have all gone. There is just a coffee cup left there, gentle and full.
Image: Zeus and Hera – Pallas Athena Fountain, erected by Carl Kundmann, Josef Tautenhayn and Hugo Haerdtl