Random Cafe Encounters: A White Beard and a Belly Does Not Necessarily Mean Santa Claus

‘What the hell kinda place is this?’ he says to me. 

He had walked in, slowly, deliberately, clutching a ten dollar bill. Walked from the front door up to the counter, a man who I would have described as jolly, except he was anything but. In sympathies anyway. In looks he could work at a mall all through the Christmas season, his white beard framing a round face, a belly that would have filled out any extra-large red suit. 

But he walks up to the counter, and very softly tells me, doesn’t ask, but tells me, ‘I want a large latte, triple shot, half vanilla and half sugar-free coconut.’ Now, we’re mild snobs at the cafe I work at. Lattes are only served in one size, flavors are limited, and we certainly don’t carry any sugar-frees. So I tell him that I’m sorry, we don’t have any sugar-free coconut. 

To which he replies with the line that opens this post, ‘What the hell kinda place is this?’ 

‘I’m… sorry? Sir. I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.’ I was definitely hoping he was joking at this point. Waiting for a jolly laugh to come booming out. Instead though, he turned around, muttering about the quality of the place. In my mind I have him calling it a ‘two-bit establishment,’ but I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually say that. 

He did leave though. Turned and walked out, due to a lack of sugar-free coconut flavoring. ‘There’ll be a Starbuck’s just down the street and on the left sir!’ 


Watching the World Go By

Some days are meant to be spent inside, curled up in a comfortable chair, with a coffee, some good music. Watching the world go by. Good day to be a voyeur. I don’t want to be a part of the world today. I just want to stand in the wings and watch everyone else act out their lives. Or I’ll be the director. You there. Take your latte, glance at it approvingly and take that first sip. More expression! I want to know you’re really enjoying it. Close your eyes. A gentle sigh of appreciation. That’s right. More feeling. Now walk slowly to the door, reach for it, but step back as a guy pulls it open from the other side and stands back to hold it open for you. Gracious smile, nod as you walk past. And the curtain falls. Time for someone else to take center stage.

We’re watching today play out before us in the exact same way as yesterday. Time for a movie script ending. Time for the plot to hinge on some uber-dramatic moment. And wait for it… the twist! Gets me every time. But I could have sworn I knew what was gonna happen next! No such luck. Every time. You know, the part where the guy meets the girl, and everything is about to work out perfectly, and then suddenly the universe conspires against them. One thing, followed by another, and we watch them spin off in different directions, lives spiraling slowly out of control. Sitting in upturned umbrellas, rocking over the waves of a stormy sea, clinging on for dear life. Whatever happened to our sunny days? Those halcyon days of old? Halcyon has a way of fading. Losing its luster. Turning to twilight. It’s always been that way, she says to me. And what of it? That doesn’t mean it has to always be that way.

Oh but it does. Ever tried to stop the sun from setting? Not the easiest thing in the world. There’s a billion years of history telling you it won’t work. Yeah, well history is written by the victors. And who really knows the first thing about physics anyway?

You can’t wish it away, you know. So you say. I didn’t get where I am today by not wishing. Note to self. Delete that previous line.