“Order, Dineo!” Claudio shouted from the kitchen. Dineo was a bit out of it this morning. Her dance troupe had had a performance the night before and they all went to a club afterwards to celebrate.

“What for you sleepy this morning? Too much dancing last night, neh?” Claudio asked when she got to the window to collect her customer’s food. The old man smiled at her. She’d been waiting tables for him for three years now and he treated her more like a daughter than an employee.

“Sorry, Claudio. We were performing at the Fugard last night. Great crowd.”

“That’s my girl! Next time you’ll be in London in one of the big musicals, dancing only, no more waitressing. One day you’ll be a big star. You’ll leave old Claudio and Angelica here all alone, missing you.”

Dineo smiled at him. Sometimes she thought he had more faith in her dream than she did. Trying to be a professional dancer was tough in South Africa; that’s why she was still waiting tables most days.

“Who you calling ‘old’, Old Man?!” Angelica, Claudio’s wife, shouted from her desk in the corner.

Dineo carried the plate of eggs and bacon in one hand and the coffee pot in the other. She knew Mr Frances, a regular customer. His coffee cup would be empty again.

“There you go,” she said, setting down the plate and filling his cup.

“Thanks, Dineo. You always know exactly what I need,” Mr Frances said. He’d have three more refills before heading home to take his dog for a long walk along the promenade. He was a retired architect, alone since his wife died two years before. He’d linger over the last cups of coffee for an hour or so, working the crossword, and trying to get Dineo to sit a bit with him and have a chat. He was lonely and when the morning rush died down, she’d make some time for him.

“Table 7,” Mimi whispered as she passed Dineo, carrying a tray laden with four plates of waffles for the table of school kids in the corner booth.

Dineo looked over at Table 7 and saw who Mimi was whispering about. He was tall, wearing a suit in the most delectable way. He had short dreads and a killer smile, and to make things even better, Table 7 was hers!

“Good morning, sir,” Dineo said in her cheeriest voice, while she handed the man the menu. “Can I get you some coffee?”

“Tea please.” The smile again, and after that sexy voice. Dineo calmed herself. Men were men: always a problem. She was too busy for anything anyway. If she wasn’t waiting tables, she was practising. And since their dance troupe, Kaleidoscope, was small, only ten members, they all had to do their share of the admin too. So she spent a lot of time in a small office behind their member Belinda’s house, making phone calls, responding to emails, working on marketing. She had no time for a relationship.

Her last one was with another dancer, thankfully not in Kaleidoscope, and it was a complete disaster. They parted committed enemies. She didn’t need that sort of stress just now. But – yikes! The man at Table 7 was hot, she couldn’t deny that. Flirting was not off the menu – right?


Tell us what you think: Should busy people committed to building a career avoid relationships?