In a Word . . . Youth

Coffee’s taking far too long/The young barista is singing a song/Don’t worry, be happy

 

I waited and waited. The coffee shop was not busy, with staff standing around at other counters but no one at the coffee. I waited and waited and began to wonder about Godot. Would anyone turn up?

How badly did I need the damn coffee anyhow? Was it not all just habit to grab an Americano on the way to work? Large,too? Should cut down.

The woman who was usually there is a middle-aged Eastern European and had become friendly, after a manner. Initially she had been cool, very, very cool in that Eastern European way but, with familiarity, she eventually warmed up and began to smile. A bit like latent heat in water, a considerable amount of warmth has to be invested before there is any response.

I put it down to their awful history.

She was at another counter and in no haste to the coffee. It was time for a huff. So I turned on my heel and walked out, making sure the staff saw this regular do just that.

I went to the coffee shop right next door. This is Dublin after all and, had poet TS Eliot been here, he would have measured out his life with coffee shops, not coffee spoons.

Two younger women were busily preparing food there and one was about to leave all to give me a coffee when a young guy with streaming dreadlocks came in off the floor to assure her he would get it.

Bobby McFerrin was singing over the PA system: “Here’s a little song I wrote/You might want to sing it note for note/Don’t worry, be happy . . .”

As I ordered my coffee the young guy inside the counter was all smiles and began to sing along with Bobby. In appearance, he was from the warm south.

Suddenly he began to whistle. “I used to work on cruise ships,” he said. “They were very strict. We could not sing or whistle inside the counter.” He was now, clearly, relishing the freedom to do both. He seemed too young to have a stint on cruise ships behind him.

And he sang along: “In every life we have some trouble/When you worry you make it double/ Don’t worry, be happy. . .”

Ah, sweet bird of youth.

Youth from Old English geoguð, related to geong (young).

inaword@irishtimes.com

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