I wonder about her – does she have a husband who loves her? Do men pay her any attention? Are such things even important to her anymore? What makes her happy? At what point do people give up their hopes and dreams and simply succumb to the grim monotonous routine of their ordinary lives?My favorite customer -- by far -- is an extraordinarily beautiful woman whom I see at this cafe periodically.She is a goddess -- tall, slender, with an angelic face, long dark-brown hair, sparkling almond eyes, a dazzling white smile and always attired tastefully and elegantly. She is I guess, what they call 'black Irish.' I estimate she is in her mid-to-late 30s – that is, on the brink of losing her beauty. One can tell that she spends a great deal of time in the morning 'prepping' herself, picking out her clothes carefully and applying make-up in a restrained, calculated manner.She is a stunning creature – and yet, I discern a deep sadness in her, even a kind of loneliness and isolation.Sometimes, beautiful women are extremely insecure (out of fear of what will happen when their looks fade, mostly, or because they suspect men judge them solely on their appearance).Nonetheless, she fascinates and charms me – I fantasize speaking to her, but never gather the courage to do so.I also observe the cafe employees, all of whom appear to be Hispanic immigrants, probably from México and/or Central America. I imagine what their lives are like and what they aspire to?I speculate they trudge at least an hour from the outer reaches on Brooklyn or Queens, or perhaps New Hersey, to a minimum-wage job (plus tips) in the center of American capitalism. They are unfailingly friendly, efficient, kind and hard-working.But, I wonder how they feel about serving Wall Streeters, some of whom are highly paid brokers, executives and attorneys with lifestyles that are light years beyond them?Do they resent their customers, or are they happy simply to have a job to provide for their families?What do they expect out of life? Do they hope their children go to college, get good jobs and move up on the ladder of society? Do they want their kids to eventually go to the other side of the counter – that is, become the customer, instead of the server?
The great American essayist Henry David Thoreau famously wrote: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Thoreau may have come up with that line in a 19th century New England coffee shop.