Observation: Downtown Springfield

Nick Schwarz

Springfield, Ore.-

It is 1:00 pm on a Sunday and the sidewalks are devoid of people. Meandering down the road, closed signs can be seen in most windows as the sleepy city takes a rest from the usual hustle and bustle.

The Washburne Cafe lies just off of Main Street and 4th St. Stepping inside and you are instantly greeted by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and hot sandwiches. The tables are littered with groups of two to three people, betraying the general emptiness of outside.

A young woman with red hair enters at 1:07 pm. She has a plaid shirt and a shoulder bag. As she approaches the counter the barista mutters something inaudible over the dim background music. She resonds, “No that is just fine.” They talk a little while longer and the young woman retreats to a sofa with a cup of steaming coffee.

The three workers in back work quickly as closing time approaches. The clinking and clanking of silver ware and plates can be heard from the back room.

The walls are lined with simple water color paintings, the usual variety of fruit and vegetables. Price tags on the corner range from 65$ to 125$. Funds for an aspiring artist.

It’s 1:14 pm and my plate of eggs and potatoes arrive with a side of salsa. It’s good if not anything extraordinary. The ambiance makes it enjoyable. The room is well lit with natural light from the windows lining the street and only a few pillars stand in the way of making this an open room.

The sputtering of the steamer can be heard behind the counter as it prepares frothy foam for a latte.

1:22 pm and in back right corner of the shop is a card rack where a single lady cycles through three or four cards in search of the perfect one.

The store begins to clear out and it seems everyone is aware of the 2:00 pm closing time. The waitress walks around with a spray bottle letting off bursts of mists to the surface of unoccupied tables. The chemical compound drifts around the store.

Next to the window a group of three elderly people talk. Their plates have been long empty and they are now savoring the last few sips of their drinks.

“We had a friend who had a car taken by a relative,” says one of the older women as the other two listen and nod. “It was a company car. He had trouble explaining to his boss what had happened.”

The other two chuckle and the older gentleman adds something but it is drowned out by the constant music.

1:27 pm and a song by the XX comes on. It’s soft electronic beat pairs well with the tranquil atmosphere.

The barista begins to clean the latte machine, she looks up, smiles at me and then goes back to work.

A woman laughs and the older group gets up to leave. It seems to be unspoken word to bus your own table. A worker quickly comes over after they leave. Sprit sprit and another cloud of mist exits the bottle’s nozzle. She rubs it into the dark wood and it shines from the outside light.

It’s time to go, the super bowl is on soon and the place is almost empty besides a few stragglers. 1:42 pm

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