It’s bad enough that coffee shops tend to pack as many tables and chairs into their shops as possible, but it only gets worse when people sit in the damn things. Yes, I appreciate that chairs are there to be sat in, but by the time each table has had a couple of customers sit at it, move their chairs, rearrange the table and God knows what else, there tends to be even less room at some places, where empty chairs have been shifted to make more room for those already seated.
That’s why I ended up sitting in Costa this morning, fully aware of a table that was a little too close to mine. Not touching, but close enough, and badly positioned enough, that whoever sat down would be sitting with their back to me, and head in my face (such was the position of the chair). I was somewhat relieved then when a guy came to the table and put a suitcase next to me before taking his seat across the table. He manouevred his chair in such a way that when he sat down he was directly in my eye line.
He didn’t talk, and his suitcase had no luggage tags on it, but I immediately pigeon holed him as an American n business. His Bluetooth earpiece sat in his right air, to all intents and purposes turned off, which I deduced by the lack of flashing light on the side. I dislike those that wear Bluetooth earpieces at the best of times. Nothing says "tosser" more than someone talking out loud, touching their earpiece and acting with a greater sense of importance than they should actually have. It’s a look that Phillip Schofield can pull off on This Morning as he is presenting a live tv show and getting instant feedback in his ear from a bunch of producers, editors and others intent on things running smoothly. It’s not a look that transfers quite so well with a takeout latte in one hand, a laptop case in the other, and an overly loud voice booming about "buying that cottage in the country. Only two mill. Yah, Yah."
Anyway, the earpiece, added with the luggage which was definitely at his table, but equally definitely invading my personal space, plus the fact that the guy was overweight, had ordered two drinks, which he proceeded to drink himself, and not save one, as my first thought was, for someone else, and munching down on a sandwich, the contents of which landed mostly on the table and his lap rather than in his mouth.
I did my best to ignore him, but given that every time I glanced up from my book, I could immediately see him, chewing what little food he’d manage to fit in his gob, mouth wide open, noisily showing everyone what "masticate" actually meant. A build up of spittle, with remnants of food sat in one corner of his mouth. I’m not sure why or how he hadn’t filled the other corner off his mouth, especially as he had managed to spill something on his cheek (is it possible to spill something in an upward direction? Truly, this man defied the very laws of physics)
I grimaced, put my head down and carried on reading.
It couldn’t get any worse, but as log as I continued to do my best to ignore him, I’d be fine. I wasn’t going to let this (possible) American ruin my coffee. As I thought this, I smugly raised my head. The noises had stopped. My enemy was still there. One drink was finished, the other was half gone, and he was swirling the coffee round in the paper cup (which I’d only just noticed. A paper cup? That’s a takeaway drink, so he had no right to be bloody sitting down in the store!). The discarded plastic wrapping of his sandwich sat on the table.
He placed his drink on the table, reached into his suit jacked pocket and pulled something out.
He wasn’t going to do that here was he?
Indeed he was. He fiddled with the contents of his pocket for a couple of seconds, and though his chubby hands seemed to hide his find, I could still see clearly what it was. Floss. As my eyes blinked in surprise, so my stomach lurched in disgust as he raised the floss to his teeth and deftly began sawing bits of food from his teeth.
This was gross. People moan about mums that breastfeed in public, but at least that is a natural act. Flossing, as important as it is in the dental healthcare scheme of things, is not something that I need to see in public.
He withdrew the floss from his mouth and carefully looked at the wet string he now held in his fingers. I’m not sure what he was looking for as even sitting a couple of feet away I could see a fairly sizeable piece of food stuck to it.
My gaze was held. I couldn’t believe that this man was so happy to do this in a busy coffee shop.
Suddenly he moved. With a quick dart of the head, and a slight raising of the hand, his tongue came out, caught the globule of food and he sucked it back in noisily, licking his lips as he finished.
My stomach rose. I quickly packed my stuff away and bolted outside. The fresh air, thankfully, removing the nauseousness from my body, and draining the green from my cheeks.
Farewell, Mr Suitcase man. I hope that, wherever you travel, your incredible habits are welcomed and not viewed as the sickening display I have depicted!