Sunday 28 October 2007

Midnight Coffee

Having two small children means that we don't go out an awful lot in the evenings - babysitters are expensive! So it's rare for me to be out late at night except for the occasional dash to the video store before they close in the hopes that I won't get a late fine. But when I do happen to be out late (ish) I'm always amazed at how busy it is in our "urban village" of Rathmines in Dublin.

For a while I've been meaning to go out for a cup of coffee late at night just to see what is going on. So last night I took advantage of the clocks going back an hour to go out for coffee at midnight.

I decided to go to Eddie Rockets, one of a chain of faux American 1950's diners at 21st century Ireland prices. I knew they would be open late because I had previously seen a sign in the window giving some lame reason why they had to charge extra after midnight.

I sat at a stool at the bar (of course, why wouldn't you?) and ordered a cup of coffee. I was pleased to see they served Fairtrade. The staff were wearing uniforms appropriate for the theme of the restaurant complete with a hat that sported their cutesy slogan, Eat and Get Out! I only counted six staff. Two chefs, two waitresses, a dishwasher and a manager. 100% foreign nationals - the norm for the service industry in Ireland today.

The restaurant was actually quieter than I hoped it would be. A small group of teenage lads huddled around a bowl of fries, a man staggered in drunk but caused no trouble, and a me at the bar writing things down in my notebook. One of the waitresses looked like she really didn't want to be there and the other one yawned - she told the junior chef that she was tired. Tired everyday. And for a while some of the staff talked about their struggle with learning the English language.

I decided to stay a little while longer and ordered a second cup of coffee - partly to see if anything interesting happened and partly to see whether they provided free refills in coffee. It didn't really and they don't. I think I shall write to Mr Rocket and ask why a basic tenet of American dinerism is not provided.

Soon a girl and her boyfriend came in and decided to stay to eat rather than return to their apartment. She has obviously come out in her pyjamas which might seem odd to some, but was actually the third girl I had seen out and about in their p.j.s that day.

All in all it was a bit unremarkable. But, for me, this was in itself sort of interesting. An hour spent watching ordinary lives, but taking time to notice something about them. I tried to picture their faces again as I walked home praying for them.

I left the diner wondering a number of things about culture, assimilation, working night shifts and what the other people would do after they left the restaurant. But I mostly wondered how staff could put up with working in an environment that played 50's music all day every day. And I wondered if I was going to have trouble going to sleep when I got home.


Ali said...

Ah the pyjama mama. I didn't realise that was an all-Ireland tradition.

As an aside, an area in West Belfast has recently banned women wearing pyjamas in certain public areas after a heated debate (started by an Aussie tourist!) on BBC radio show.

Dana said...

Oh my, between you, Ali and Pluto I feel so blessed! I so love reading each of your blogs for different reasons!!!

What a sweet post, thanks for letting me read a while.