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The Return Of Small Talk

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Michael, the Unorthodox Kinross cafe manager, tells how Covid has influenced cafe small talk.

Unorthodox Roasters Kinross window view up Kinross high street

One Thing Has Suffered: My Small Talk

I’ve been very lucky over the last twelve months to have navigated the perils of Covid and Lockdown fairly unscathed. Having my fiancee and daughter at home has helped combat any risk of loneliness. Working here at Unorthodox HQ has given me something to focus on day to day. And living in such a beautiful area as Kinross-Shire has made getting my daily exercise a pleasure.

But one thing has suffered: my small talk. Gone are the days where I could easily breeze through five minutes of simple, pleasant conversation with a complete stranger while I rustled them up a flat white. Alas dear reader, every conversation now follows a similar template:

Me: “Afternoon guys! Have you been up to much?”

Customer: “No.”

Cue two minutes of complete silence, broken only by the sound of my milk steaming.

Worse than that is a question that was once a staple of my small talk armoury.

“So, have you guys come far?”

This sentence, once a gateway to further chat about where they’re from and what has brought them to us, is now greeted like I'm a Lockdown Inquisitor on the hunt for anyone not from the KY postcode.

“No!” They reply, panic in their eyes and voice, “we’re local! We’re from…from… near here!”

And then they flee, coffee in hand, before I can report them directly to Nicola Sturgeon herself.

When all this is over, I know people all over the country will be looking forward to different things. For many it’ll be meeting with friends and spending extended time with family. Maybe it’ll be the excitement of being able to return to pubs, cafes and restaurants.

For me, it’ll be the day when I ask someone:

“Have you been up to much?”

And for them to reply:

“Actually, do you know what? I have!”

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