A young man walked into a café and sat down. After a minute, a waitress greeted him. He ordered his meal and sat still for a moment, then looked around the room, not wanting to miss anything.
“What are you doing?” someone asked.
“Just looking for my waitress. I’ve forgotten to order a beverage.”
She told him she was his waitress. He did not order a beverage. The waitress stayed for a moment, then left.
The young man turned to an older man sitting behind him. “What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“Nothing,” said the man. “I just like to sit in the café and wait for something to happen.”
They sat for a while in silence until the waitress arrived with the younger man’s meal. He thanked her and did not order a beverage.
“The streets are quiet this time of night,” said the older man.
“I like it that way.”
“Enjoy it while you can. I hear they’re building a shopping center.”
“Yes, well, they’ve got to.”
“No reason. It’s just what they do.”
The older man thought about this for a while.
“They can always change, can’t they?”
“They can, but why would they? They’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Sometimes I wish they didn’t have to.”
“As do I.”
The waitress brought the young man his meal. He set it aside and turned back to the older man.
“But they really have done something wrong.”
“They’ve never looked at the streets.”
“I’m sure they have. They spend their whole day planning and marking and building all over them.”
“Not like that. They’ve never tried to look at the streets. They’ve never looked at them when they’re quiet at night and you can just sit and watch them in silence.”
“I don’t think they want to.”
“I think they should.”
“As do I.”
The younger man called the waitress over.
“Is everything alright?”
“Yes, it’s fine. Have you ever looked at the streets?”
“I see them every day, when I come to work. I live just down that one,” she said, pointing, then left to serve other customers.
“How long will it take them?” he asked the older man.
“Not long. They do it all the time now.”
“And there’s nothing we can do about it?”
“I guess you’re right, then.”
“We should enjoy it while it lasts.”
“I guess so.”
After a while, the younger man finished his meal and left the café. The older man sat a while longer, then left as well.
They finished the building plans. The whole street was in the way of the west entrance, but there wasn’t much on it. The café was just a little café, and it never had much business anyway. The clothing store was just a little clothing store. There was no harm in getting rid of it all. There were plenty of other cafés. There were plenty of other stores. There were plenty of other streets.