“Podunk” attracts the visitor with a sign of a Parisian style table on its outside wall. The door opens heavily, although a welcoming italic “Open” is written on it. Inside “Podunk”, a lamp shines on a wooden desk next to the door and a paper sign states: “Staff only”.

Two elderly women sit at one of two white garden desks, one of them on a bench, the other on a chair. They chat slowly and quietly. One woman wears a huntsman’s hat, decorated with a bright blue feather. Her skirt has a print like dotted paint. The other one is dressed in dark colors, has grey and short hair, and a lower voice than her friend.

Going deeper inside, a young woman stands up and welcomes me. She wears a green cap and a 80s sport jacket. On her table she has a tablet with a teapot and a cup. All of these items are green. The woman lifts herself from the table and calls for the waitress, who is presumably a relative. The waitress hurries to come from the back kitchenette. It is easy to imagine her as a countryside-landlord serving beer, pretzels, and pork, but pink framed glasses in her face disturb that picture slightly. I am standing at her service desk, which is a huge dining table.

Thereon, a three-stock-vitrine presents so many teapots, that some are lined up on top. And I ask the waitress, “Do you have coffee?” She replies, “No, this is a teahouse, but wouldn’t you like a tea instead? They are really good,” and smiles so warm-heartedly, that I couldn’t run out of her teahouse. I skim the menu, which offers about twenty tastes, and decide upon a Ginger Lemon Tea, iced please. That drink will cost me $8. An incredible price, as I am not very thirsty. This teahouse visit and this iced tea are just a task on writing colorfully. My professor issued the task 20 minutes ago in our Reporting Downtown Class, to be started immediately in the Journalism Department’s neighborhood.

I sit down on a garden desk ensemble, and the young woman replaces herself opposite at her table. Piano music is playing from a record player, placed in a suitcase. Two bookshelves stand aside my bench. The clock in “Podunk” runs five minutes ahead. The teahouse should be called a tearoom, as it is just flat-size. A cadastral map of Cooper Square, a wide format painting of four sheep, and nine canvases with newspaper shavings are shown on the wall.

The waitress serves a glass for pickling, but neither cucumbers, beans, nor peas are served. She puts the iced tea on the table. That massive drink weighs almost a kilogram. Ginger slices, grapes, and ice swim inside, a spoon and a straw stretch outside. It tastes mild, spicy just in the outflow.

“Podunk’s” door opens and a woman, presumably in her 60s, comes in. The waitress hastens from the back and asks, “Is this Lorry?” She welcomes Lorry, and the ladies talk about Pope Francis in town, Obama in town and the storm forecasts – for them, definitely too much at once. They sit down apart, and I wish I could note down more on Lorry’s visit in my notebook while I coping with my massive iced tea and the clock, which reminds me steadily on the task’s time limit of 45 minutes outside the class room, and which fosters the hurry by running five minutes apart. I drink as fast as I can, leave the grapes inside the pickling glass, and don’t wait for the check to be brought but instead pay cash at the service desk. Leaving “Podunk”, the door opens heavy as it did initially but now Lorry sits at the “Staff only” table.

This story is part of my Reporting Downtown Class of September 30th. I received feedback and rewrote the story. Some (German) readers might find a definition of “Podunk” helpful. “Podunk” is a name for a hypothetical insignificant town. In German, we call such places Hintertupfingen.