She perches awkwardly on the hard wooden bench reserved for people waiting for to-go orders, clutching the little plaque with her order number on it. Her heavy winter coat is too hot for the café, crowded as it is during the lunchtime rush, but after a glance at the chilly grey sky through the window, she decides to leave it on for now. "It can't take them that long to get my order ready." she thought. "It's only soup and a roll."
The guy who ordered after her is also getting takeout. She moves her oversized purse from the bench to her lap and scoots over so he can sit down too. He gives her a little smile and folds himself into the space she's made for him, making sure he's displaying his numbered card so the staff doesn't miss him when his food is ready. "Why do we all do that?" the girl thinks to herself. "Everyone is so anxious about them not seeing the card, but they yell out the numbers if it is a takeout order. It's not like they'll refuse to give you your food."
An older woman drifts up to the counter, studying the menu board intently while she toys with a key with the Audi logo on it. Her hair is sleek and perfectly highlighted, her winter coat fur and full-length. "That's overkill for a suburban bakery-café at lunch time." thinks the girl on the bench. The woman answers the cashier's questions vaguely at first. "I would like the broccoli and cheese soup." she says, but isn't sure if she wants a cup or a bowl. No, wait, she'd like the soup and salad combo - what size is that? The choice of rolls available with the soup throws her momentarily, but then she picks whole grain, and they are off to the races as she confidently makes her salad dressing choice. Balsamic vinaigrette. The girl on the bench is not surprised. Her order properly sorted, the woman heads off in search of a table, the obligatory order number card in hand.
She's followed at the counter by a harried looking dad with a sleeping boy in a double stroller. From the bench, the girl guesses he's about 18 months old. Wandering behind them on foot is a three year old girl, chirping brightly as she provides a running commentary. "Look, Papa, that lady has a red coat. I have a red coat! This is the place that has the yummy cookies. I get grilled cheese here sometimes. Papa. Hey Papa, I want grilled cheese for lunch." He shushes her gently and orders a grilled cheese sandwich for her and a French dip sandwich for himself. Then he picks her up so she can see the cookies in the bakery case. "I'd like a cookie with M&M's please." she says to the cashier, who smiles and steps over to get it for her. "Here you go, miss." he says, handing her a cookie wrapped in bakery tissue. "Thank you!" she replies, flashing a killer little girl smile, all dimples and sweetness. Her father sets her down and reaches into his pocket for his wallet.
A tall woman appears at the end of the counter. "Number 94?" she calls out in what sounds like a Jamaican accent. The girl on the bench jumps up, waving her numbered card, and hurries over to claim her soup and roll.