It was busy, I was hungry and decided to go for pizza. It was a craving I had been having for weeks but never quite gave into. Today was going to be the day. I was hungry to the point of ‘hangry’: the state of upset one gets if food is not consumed soon enough. Walking around the food-court, I discover an amazing stone-oven pizza place Franco Manca, with a pizza for the price of a luxury sandwich. Had I not upgraded to buffalo mozzarella that is, which I had. Now it was just the price of a pizza. They had oil and chili flakes on the side, which was just great because I didn’t have to ask for it.
I carried my tray with the steaming hot pizza to a table and hangry as I was attacked it with my hands. Folding the gorgeous chewy dough to keep the melting cheese and tomato in place, I inhaled the slices. It was amazing. Suddenly, I felt watched and there was indeed a lady at the opposite table, feeding her baby in a high-chair and looking at me. First I thought she might be upset at the way I ate but then I recognised the look. She too was hangry. The baby got fed in double-time and her partner, a man, who was sitting behind her was clearly unaware of the situation as he tried to distract the baby. I think everyone should be taught to not distract others when eating. The lady barked something at the unhelpful man and he backed off.
After the baby was fed, the lady got up and walked to the pizza place. The baby was crying for his mother. The man ignored it for a good few minutes, then started imitating the baby to distract it. Hm. The lady came back upset, clearly too hangry to make a decision. The man looked at me and asked with a strong East European accent that sounded like a demand: “What is that ?” The lady smiled apologetically. I smiled at her and said it was the tomato cheese one, the second one the list. I omitted the buffalo mozzarella bit, it seemed too complicated to explain from such a distance. The man looked at the lady as if to say “See, easy”. He didn’t get up though. Nope, she walked back and queued to order. The baby started crying again.
The man lifted the baby out of the high chair and let it loose in the food court. Hm. The baby couldn’t find his mother so wandered off. The man looked at me smiling as if sharing a joke, I was hoping he would walk after the child before it reached the corner. Eventually the man did, he walked after the child – leaving all their belongings: bags, pram, coats and all unattended at the table. When the lady turned to see where her table companions were, I saw a moment of panic: stay in the queue or go back to the table? I tried to make eye-contact. I signalled the two were off on a wander and that I would keep an eye on their stuff. Luckily, this is really easy to do with one hand.
A few minutes later, this Franco Manca is really fast too, the lady came back with two pizzas. Then the man showed up and put the baby back in the high chair and started eating his pizza. The lady peeled a satsuma and gave a bit to the baby. She then cleared the table of all the baby debris and put it back underneath the pram. The man kept eating. The baby offered the man some satsuma. The man kept eating. The baby offered his mother some satsuma, who exchanged it for a new part.
Finally, she started her own pizza, with the same urgency as I had just 15 minutes before. Two bites into her pizza, the man deposits half his pizza on her plate and tries to take half of hers. The baby waves around a bit of satsuma.
As I am watching the heroic lady help him shove half a pizza on his plate, I get up and realise that if this glimpse of a possible future: I am perfectly happy to wait.