I’d seen him many time before, he was often here in the café sat behind his computer. I couldn’t say how many times I’ve seen him, ten at least. The computer itself is very recognisable; maybe you’ve seen him too. He went out – to talk on the phone – I think – or get some air. On his way back in our eyes met – a moment of recognition – a nod of acknowledgement. He’d clearly seen me here before too. We didn’t speak.
I wondered what he was doing; clearly he was here to work too. I think you notice different things about a place when you’re working there rather than there for leisure. There was a book beside him full of post it notes and well worn at the spine. From a distance given the shape, size and type of cover it looked like a guide book, the sort of architectural city guides you get. I wondered if perhaps he was doing some historical piece about the area.
Now was the moment – I got up and walked over to his table and introduced myself. I told him I’m here a lot and I’ve noticed he’s often here and thought I should introduce myself. Yes he said he was indeed here a lot, this was his ‘office’. I asked what he was working on and he told me a book. What’s it about I asked? A sort of life-coaching book he told me – about strategies and techniques to have a better life. I explained I was also working here, that I was an artist in the middle of a long term collaborating with the foundation and wished him luck with his book.
Life-coaching – I wondered whether he will recommend in his book choosing a café to work in? – I hope so. I’m not really sure what life coaching is, its one of those buzz words that came to the fore in the 1990’s. Its goal I imagine is greater personal control over the path your life is taking. Surely a good thing – I for one am certainly in favour of not just constantly fire-fighting circumstance. Still there’s a taste of determinism left on the pallet after using the word. Who’s free will, who’s agency is the coaching actually befitting. I can’t help comparing this to my situation here. Who’s desires am I fulfilling, how deterministic is the outcome of such a collaboration.