Social Interaction - a thing of the Past?

It was one of those days, a stressful meeting, running late, missed my coffee. I needed the fix, I told myself and anyway I liked the excuse to relax in a café. 

The nicely polished and smiley barista lady said “I will bring it over”, as I hovered next to the counter area, half expecting, hoping for some sort of conversation.  Another customer in the seating area looked up and I smiled hopefully expecting a word about the weather or something, any kind of human interaction, but after a quick glance from her paper to see who I wasn’t, she returned her bored attention to the tabloid.  It was very quiet and so I looked out at the passers-by who carefully avoided being spotted looking back.   No recognition, no smile or ‘howa ye’  I might have been better as a ‘ to go’ coffee, but too late.

I enjoyed my expensive, well-made coffee with a determination and made my way to the ladies before leaving.  I passed a small baby and toddler with their mum.  As I past them again a few minutes later, the mother was fitting the toddlers coat on with some difficulty, as she had the infant in a car carrier balanced with incredible precision on one arm.  As I squeezed past,  she excused herself for blocking the way and I enthusiastically said it was no problem, delighted at this recognition of my existence.

I returned to my car and was preparing to take off, when I noticed this same mum negotiation the baby and toddler into her car; remembering how, in my day, a stranger would have offered to help.  Then I wondered with a certain amount of sadness, was it the same fix that had brought her into the cafe with two very small children in tow, and whether her effort, which was much greater than mine, was rewarded more fruitfully. 

Catherine O’Connor