Thursday, 5 September 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: All the People

The next time you’re in a public place — a coffeehouse, a park, a store — observe the people around you. Pick a person, a couple, or a group, and imagine what their lives might be like. 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IMAGINE.

French waiter at coffee bar

The next time I am in a public place will be tomorrow morning when I perform the act of dealing with the week-end shopping in our local supermarket and I definitely will not meet any people that will remain in my memory forever. The next daily prompt will then be forming in the cyberbrain of a WordPress robot, so I will be too late if I wait until tomorrow. I browsed through my photos and discovered this photo. Do I know this person? Does he know me? Will he even remember having an interesting conversation with me whilst I was waiting for my friend to join me at a table in the café? Why did he leave an impression on me?

Before Mr. Swiss reads this unforgettable blog about the visit I made to see my father in England, on my own and seeing a strange unknown person highlighted as a subject of the blog, I better get round to doing some explaining.

Where was I at the time? I was in a book shop in a large shopping centre on the Eastern periphery of London with my friend. After an hour’s shopping it was time for a coffee. We are both book lovers and combined the bookshop with its coffee shop. It looked quite a nice place, situated on one side of the book shelves and sales area, and it was quite empty. The waiter seemed to be without work and he asked me what I would like. I told him two coffees and noticed his English was not accent free.

Now me being me, a golden oldie, biding my time with nothing better to do, I of course asked where his origins were. The answer was Marseille. My answer “vous parlez français?” or something like that meaning “you speak French?”. Of course it was a stupid question to ask someone from Marseille, but you have to start somewhere being nosy like me. He was pleased to hear his mother tongue, being isolated in the country of the non-speaking foreign language people and so the conversation began. As I also knew that the French spoken in Marseille was something completely different to French spoken in other parts of France, having an accent which not everyone understands the conversation had a starting point.

Was he impressed on my knowledge of French? I do not think so, he probably just found a grey-haired lady that knew that France existed, and also Marsille. We spoke of this and that and he was naturally interested to find that I actually lived full time in Switzerland (where they also have French as a language in some parts) and was only on working in England. He told me that he was glad to have a job in England, to practice his English, but would be returning to France some months later. My friend then arrived and found you can never leave me alone for more than five minutes as I very rarely remain alone for more than five minutes. When she arrived, we were speaking sort of 95% French. Yes, I had found a victim to try out my French – poor man.

The result of this meeting with a stranger from across the channel was the photo. I just could not leave him without a souvenir, now could I? We drank our coffee and left with the words adieu meaning goodbye for ever. Au revoir could also have been said, but that means “see you again sometime” which I did not think would be the case. Such are the moments in life when you realise that the shopping excursion had a worthwhile meaning. Now if I was say 30 40 years younger, who knows what the consquences would have been, although at that age my French was not so good.

On the other hand you can never know the truth. Marseille has quite a strong mafia organisation and perhaps the waiter job was just an excuse for dabbling in money laundering from drug sales in England – you remember the film “French Connection” with Gene Hackman? You can never trust anyone these days.

So Mr. Swiss you can stop reading now and I showed you the photo when I arrived home. I still wonder ………..

Click here for more


  1. He does have a slight mafia look to him!! Poor man, probably just earning a living, would be horrified that someone might think he was part of a criminal underground!! LOL.

    1. I just hope he doesn't have a Blogger, WordPress or Facebook page.