The coffee machine was dripping its black magic into the cup. Vito was holding the stainless steel frothing jug. He pulled the lever, and I waited for the familiar throaty muffled roar of steam in milk. Instead, the floor shook. Vito's hand froze on the lever. The espresso glasses on top of the machine danced like crystal fairies. Ten eyes instinctively swung to the window.
Where do you look when an earth tremor strikes? There's nothing to see, unless you're really unlucky. There was also nothing to hear, but the shaking makes you think there is noise. There is only noise from damage, and where I was, there was no damage. Just a bunch of jangling coffee glasses. The five people in the cafe went outside. The five were two customers (one being me), and staff Vito, Katerina, and their father Sam (who is in his eighties and still makes the best coffee of all of them). People were looking at the sky. Wrong direction. Others were gazing in the direction of the tramline. Better guess: those monsters actually do make the ground shake. But it wasn't a tram this time.
Apparently, this part of the world is the safest place to experience an earthquake. No faultline, just a big plate. We're sitting in the middle of the banana-shaped bit of earth crust that once comprised part of Gondwanaland, the great southern landmass of the Neoproterozoic period 550 million years ago. So no buildings fell down, but the facade of an old Victorian shop in South Yarra crumbled. That's on a tramline too.
5.8 on the Richter scale. A lesser one destroyed Newcastle in 1989, but that was right underneath. Ours was several hundred kilometres away; two bits of crust claiming space like a married couple in a too-small bed.
We went back inside. Vito finished making my coffee. He frothed the milk and I paid and walked away. Takeaway only. Outside table service, at least, should resume soon, when it finally occurs to health bureaucrats that staying at home until no-one ever dies again is a contradiction in terms. But then again, so is 'health bureaucrat'.