“Hi love… not very busy today is it?”

It’s a grey, drizzly Wednesday in the middle of November. You know the ones? A cloud of misery joins the fog. The last thing you want to do is leave the house, let alone go to work.

It’s already noon and the only customer so far had a take away tea. You’ve cleaned the sides. Wiped all the tables. Re-ordered the tea strainers. The door keeps blowing open with the slight wind. There’s not much to do apart from sit and watch the odd car drive past. Not that you can really see them through the haze of rain. The headlights twinkle, distorted by raindrops. The radio crackles and the Taylor Swift song cuts out again.

There’s a creak. Just the wind. You sigh and start rearranging tea pots.

At that moment the door opens.

“Hi, how are you?” You hear a friendly voice call out. They might have brought a rush of cold air into the tea shop but with them they also brought a smile and chatter.

The sound of a regular’s voice on a quiet day is as comforting as a lullaby to a crying baby. In fact, it’s just as comforting when you have a queue out the door, because you know they understand the rush and won’t complain if you are slightly late getting their order to them.

Today it’s Sarah and Neil. Two cappuccinos and four rounds of brown toast. £7. Sarah will pay with a £10 note, get £3 in change and leave £1 in the tip jar. They’ll sit in the blue room. I know they don’t take sugar and today I will actually remember to leave the pot of it off the tray. This routine is etched on my brain. As familiar as 2 plus 2 equals 4.

“Hi love, how are you? Yes we’re well thank you. Not a nice day today is it!”

Sarah and Neil. They are some of the loveliest regulars we have. They are one of the reasons I volunteer for shifts on certain days. I know of a few occasions when I couldn’t work my regular shift and they would ask my boss where I was. I guess I became a regular too.

Regulars. They can be easily overlooked but they are the most important and valued visitors to a small cafe. It is amazing how they can turn a miserable day into something worth salvaging.

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