Cyclists will tell you that an early-morning ride and coffee is normally a relaxing way to start the day...but not this time.
Cyclists will tell you that an early-morning ride and coffee is normally a relaxing way to start the day...but not this time. Graeme Wilson

Clinging to self-esteem after coffee and lycra fail to blend

Welcome to a new column by Seniors staffer Graeme Wilson (GeeDub), who believes every day dawns as a new adventure to be embraced.

Sometimes life just kicks you in the private parts when you're already down.

Still reeling from an unforeseen redundancy (#blindsided) and believing my self-esteem could slide no lower, a humbling encounter proved I could in fact sink further.

What's even worse, I had to take it sitting lycra. From bitter experience, you don't want to be standing up in public places in that stuff. Vulnerable children/fragile grandmothers could easily be sent into shock at the sight of a middle-aged man in the shiny, clingy cycling uniform of choice.

And of all places for my public humiliation to unfold, it was in a cafe where I thought my regular attendance and associated VIP status would naturally guarantee me a nurturing environment.

To be fair, I will concede mitigating circumstances in the establishment's defence. In the lead-up to my humbling experience I did change tables several times a la Goldilocks, minus the long blonde hair: ("This table is too exposed to the wind"; "This table is too noisy"; "This table is just right") and with each change, different young staffers asked if they could take my order.

"Not yet thanks, just waiting for a friend" (oh how that tardy friend came to owe me big time) was my unwavering response.

And then it happened.

For purposes of political correctness, I'll describe my next waitress as a woman with "vast maturity and considerable experience".

Again, in her defence, while not exactly letting myself go completely since redundancy, my grey stubble was arguably more "dero" than "designer". But still...

She looked deep into my eyes, maybe even my soul, and asked the same question as the others: "Are you ready to order, sir?"

I rolled out my standard answer: "Just waiting for a friend" (At the same time thinking, where the hell is said friend? She's not usually this late, and shi** is starting to go down in Chinatown (wasn't actually Chinatown...but I love the expression). This is my story and I'll embellish it how I like!

But unlike the others, my old mate wasn't quite so easily deterred.

"Are you? Just waiting for a friend are you?" she asked with a knowing look and questioning smile.

And that's when the realisation hit. She thought I was a homeless person sheltering from the elements and indulging in the free tap water. Dressed in lycra.

This was undoubtedly a new low, even by my standards.

I'm usually quite capable of firing up on such occasions but recent events had somewhat robbed me of my spirit.

So I meekly confirmed the facts as I saw them, and cast a furtive glance over her shoulder in search of the one whose belated arrival I now so desperately required.

And then, as if on cue, my friend materialised to save me the inevitable follow-up visit from tattooed bouncers with bad haircuts and even worse attitudes.

Coffee consumed, I went to the counter to pay and there waiting with her best smile was my earlier inquisitor.

I wasn't really up for small talk, but she advised she was on her first day on transfer from a country town.

And suddenly it all made perfect sense. All the homeless there must dress in lycra...outback heat can be intense.

On reflection, it was an easy mistake to make.

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