left tables

April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

There is something rather peculiar about left tables. They are mostly messy and unthought of. A dapple of spilt milk, stained coffee rims sat beneath long banters of serious conversations, crumbled bread flakes from a man who ate his sandwich while focusing too much on his phone. You can almost tell how someone eats by the way they leave their tables.

When it’s business, they drink with courtesy sips. Occasional quick gallop between deep negotiations when the other is in serious thoughts, paraphrasing vocabularies carefully in the head. A chance to drink up before one is judged to be seemingly rude for not listening. They leave with prudence, empty cups and no napkins. When it’s two ladies, they would sit all afternoon. Granted there will be two slices of pretty cakes and lattes, it would last longer. You can hear loud laughters from this end of the room, sporadic whispers of gossips and childish giggles. They leave unhurried with chairs untucked, napkins on the table or floor, forks with bits of cake intact and stained coffee spoons. Perhaps they enjoy their coffee sweetened much like their lives, sugar coated with fancy dresses and accessories.


After waiting tables for five years, I have gotten used to cleaning other’s mess. “That’s her job”, you may say, but I have a list of pet peeves of how people should treat a common space. A cafe is much appreciated with honest respect and sincere humility. I always treat it as my own home, keeping it tidy with careful thoughts for the next person stepping in.

Chef J used to say, “Make these chocolate truffles as if you are making them for yourself and loved ones. Be good to yourself. Be good to others.”

While admiring left tables, I think of the conversations and thoughts taken place. Whether they agreed to disagree, what they think of the new spring/summer couture dresses, what colour they are going to paint their walls, what’s for dinner or whether they will ever meet again. At that moment, I have the privilege to be part of their history, unnoticed or so. To provide a wholesome meal, a sweet treat or just a cup of joe. I preserve the empty unkept space for a moment. After it ends, I carry on with the same duties for other people. In it, I learn the beauty to endings. That there is no real ending, but a continuation to shape lives in trivial ways.

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. – Frank Herbert



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