I went out for breakfast this morning. I sat down with my dad, uncle and aunty at a busy but not overly crowded cafe. It stayed that way for approximately ten minutes and then before I had even fully realised what was happening, the outdoor dining area became overcrowded with lycra-clad yuppies and a young hipster crowd with a collective air of disdain so thick, I could have carved myself off a slice and buttered it to have with my eggs.
It’s funny really, when you consider what breakfast has become. There was a time when the idea of breakfast conjured up an image of burnt toast and cereal in your pyjamas, still groggy from sleep and sipping absently at your cup of tea to wake you up from a zombie state. These days, breakfast has become more than a meal; it’s a culture.
The cafe today was like a fully rehearsed scene in a play, each person playing a role already set for them. As I watched it unfold I realised that my party were the odd ones out. We were there to enjoy a meal and have conversation. For the other people there, it seemed largely an exercise in judgement and fitting into fashionable stereotypes. The hipsters all walked in together; loud and brash and with an air of arrogance that only the aggressively pretentious can pull off. They were dressed almost exactly the same, and perused the menu with a kind of dissatisfied sneer that was mirrored on every single one of their flawlessly made up and manicured faces. Those in the activewear sipped coffee, and made a grand show of taking off bicycle helmets – though none of them looked as though they had ridden further than a block or two.
Cafe breakfasts are meant as a social occasion, I completely understand that. That’s the reason I go out to eat too. What I can’t understand is how, or why, breakfast went from a simple meal, to a gross display of pretentiousness. Cliches seem to converge on cafe doorsteps, and it’s not enough to just order a meal; you have to do it whilst fitting into some kind of stereotype. Because apparently normal everyday people don’t have breakfast dates.
In addition to the people eating at cafes these days, I can’t help but wonder about the staff. I’m trying to remember the last time I went to a cafe and had a friendly customer service person, or competent waitress. Is there some unwritten hospitality law that you have to pretend like your emotional range and subsequent facial expression repertoire is limited to discontent and boredom? Did I miss a memo somewhere? I work in customer service, I know how shit some people can be. But if I greet you politely, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect the same in return. Or hell, if you don’t mean it, I’d be happy with a well executed fake smile. Anything to indicate that you are not in fact, dead inside.
On a side note, I feel like cafe breakfast menus are getting too fancy for a simple girl like me. Frankly, so long as you give me bacon, I’m content. Because everyone knows that if you say you don’t like bacon, you fakin’. And as an additional side note, to the kid who brought out our meals; it is customary to read out the order and place said order in front of the person it belongs to. Coming to the table in sullen silence, placing the plates randomly at the end of the table and walking away is not the done thing.
I had plans of this post being a lot more eloquent but, well, I did a lot of driving today and my brain is fried like eggs on toast. Maybe the next one will be better (no promises!).