An old man walked in to the same café I was sitting in early in the morning. He came sitting next to me and blew his nose into a tissue and placed the tissue on my tray. I didn’t mind, I had finished my tea. He stood up and left. Thought nothing of it, just ok. After a while the same man came back wiping his nose, blew his nose and placed the tissue on my tray. He went out and came back with a tissue. He placed the used tissue on my tray. I asked him what he was doing. There was no reply. He left hastily like he was caught doing something embarrassing. I thought I got rid of him when he disappeared behind the corner of the building. He came back sitting opposite to me and pulled his purse from his pocket. He had a five euro bill in and he placed it on the table, then the coins which he put in groups with care. He drank a glass of water with one gulp buying nothing. He put his money back in the purse and on the table again in the same way as before. Repetition of this action was performative and a story, a bit scary in a place where people avoid doing wrong movements not to raise any suspicion, avoid looking out of the ordinary and lacking. To blend in and in a weird way stay invisible is what seems normal. It is desirable to be in control, having errands to do in rational way, know how to behave in a café, having a task and plan, that all there is structured and we know how. The behaviour, the look, the walk, sitting down and having a snack, going somewhere else with destination and purpose. Anything breaking this order strikes out, especially all without a rational purpose.
It was like a game, an attempt to be part of the banal and in the same time not being able to, there is a trauma and crack there. The old man made me look what he went through and he was trying to make a contact. His action which had no other sense, purpose or meaning in this environment seemed childish still having something to say, about the condition of the environment and his. The glass was empty and clean as were his orderly placed things in learned strange order over and over again. He was not hugely frightening just accidental and shaken. A mime and play he played and reasons there were left me grasping as he was performing for me. Had I noticed if he hadn’t reached out for my tray, possibly not.
A couple, what happens there? They look at each other with silence, with pause which is painful to watch, uncomfortable as if they were parting forever. Woman had her back towards me but I could still feel her embarrassment and awkwardness in a situation which seemed to last although they were not.
Public place carpet, 2008