Dear Continental Cafe on Victoria Road,
I was scared yesterday. I locked myself out of my close to the flat that I don’t even live in yet and couldn’t get back in. I’d left the flat unlocked but jammed the door to the close so I couldn’t go anywhere without fearing that somebody somewhere would break in. For the first hour, I used a couple random phones that I borrowed off people to call my fiance and ask him to call a locksmith. A locksmith never came. I sat on the pavement as strangers and neighbours I didn’t know yet walked past me and made mumbling comments and jokes that I didn’t find funny. Then the tears came and I wanted to go home or be inside or see a familiar face. I went into your cafe because I had been outside for nearly two hours and I needed a toilet. I could tell from the outside that there wouldn’t be a customer toilet in your cafe. It was barely the size of a bedroom. I didn’t look around long because my eyes were full of tears and I was very anxious but you had a seat at the window, a glass bar full of cakes and a tiny kitchen where you were washing dishes. I walked in and asked if I could use the toilet because I’d been locked out my flat for hours. You said that was a shame and of course I could but when I saw how nice you were both being, I just cried. I was sad. Your natural kindness made me miss home. And although I’d only been locked out for a couple hours, it had felt like much longer.
I stood in your tiny kitchen and cried. I was embarrassed that I was so pathetic but within minutes, I felt like I could trust you. You asked if there was anyone you could call for me or anything do for me and I just blubbered and mumbled away. Then you said ‘First things first, get yourself to the toilet’ with the kind and gentle smile on your face. I cleaned myself up and came out and asked if I could use your phone. Ali told me that the locksmith would be on his way soon (He did eventually and he charged me £60 for going through the neighbour’s close and getting into my close through the communal back garden. It’s fine.) and if I phoned back from anywhere else that he would come home from work and sort things out. But I explained these things to you quickly and quietly and you offered me a cup of tea and cake to sit at the window. I could never take that from you but it lifted my moods completely. Nobody had been nice to me all morning. The first girl I asked to use her phone said ‘be quick’; when I went into Superdrug to use theirs they pulled it out from behind the counter and slammed it on the desk; the Royal Mail man didn’t offer to call a locksmith or anything when I asked him if he could try the key. But you guys let me use your staff toilet, the phone and offered to give me tea and a cake. Humanity is strange sometimes but you two were not. You were kind and patient and not condemning or judgemental. I will be living across the road in six weeks and I would love nothing more than to come in for a tea or coffee every once in a while. I just wanted to thank the both of you for being the nicest strangers that I’ve met in a while and I wish you the best of luck with your small lovely cafe.
The emotional girl that was locked out her flat – Beth
Artwork by the wonderful Wil Freeborn – find his work here.
Song for today: Bitter Peom by Cold War Kids (It had that movie scene kind of vibe, perfect to go along with a girl that’s locked out of her flat and sitting on a pavement for two hours.)