You see them all at the train station every morning. From 5.30 through 8.30 they come and go hurrying quickly into the city.
The weird and wacky, the sad and the happy, the focused and the dreamers, the lovers and the dumped, the sleepless and the sleepy.
They parade through the barriers in front of me and I watch to make sure that my regulars are there, the ones whom I’m gotten to know on the 5.45am from Katoomba, the 6.21 from Cronulla, the 6.05 from Maitland. It’s a non-stop procession of legs, feet and faces and I’ve gotten to know so many of them.
Not by name of course, I doubt any of them have ever noticed me as I sit with my belongings outside the coffee shop watching them go about their business, far to busy to stop and wonder about the scruffy man in the old coat with his trolley and belongings spread around him.
Some of them are in earnest conversation, the same chat I’ve heard every morning…office gossip I call it, the one with the blue hair constantly whinging about the other women in the office, the lecherous supervisor who’ll look favourably at you if you slip him a glimpse of your thigh, the tea lady having a very obvious affair with the head cleaner and the office CEO who has a new secretary every few months as he tires of them so quickly.
The myriad of school students who chatter like the birds in the trees in the park, there banter barely decipherable, their language sprinkled with obscenity.
There’s the couple who sit near and every morning enjoy a coffee before heading in opposite directions to the same workplace. He wants her to leave her husband, she fears for her life if she dares, they meet on weekends when she fakes work commitments and they spend time together doing what young lovers do.
The one who interests him is the lady with the grey bangs who comes into the coffee shop with her dog. She buys the same beveridge in a takeaway cup and stands near the arrivals barrier and watches, much like I do, as if she too is waiting for some one.
Her dog she feeds small treats as she stands and waits and the dog sits silently beside her. The occasional child approaches but she warns them off says the dog is working and not to disturb him. But they have been coming here for so long now its plain the job, whatever it is, is far from completed.
She sips her coffee, eyes focused on the arrival gate; she scans the faces coming at her but never registers any recognition.
It’s always a sixty-five minute wait. Then she gathers her dog’s lead and wanders off through the south entrance.
I once heard her say to the dog as she wandered by, “We’ll try again tomorrow.’ She’s had a lot of tomorrows as far as I can see and the person she’s expecting I wonder what has happened to him or her.
I once tried to engage her in conversation but she looked at me in horror and walked quickly away. So now we notice one another and I keep my distance.
I find that is the best way to be, at a distance, safe that way, people so easily get the wrong idea, appearance creates opinions and my appearance doesn’t do much to generate anything other than a need to stay well clear.
I worry when I don’t see a regular. I hope that tomorrow I’ll see them, that it’s a day off they are having, a minor illness but there have been a lot over the years who have vanished, here one day not the next.
I know my day will come too and I doubt anyone will notice other than there will be an extra seat and table outside the coffee shop.
Now I need to concentrate, the 7.23 from Gosford is due in and the ladies who work at the Credit Union were talking of getting new hairdos over night and I’m keen to see the results.