By Steffi Delcourt
Let me be clear: today, I was here first. I will not be the first to move.
This lonely little corner of a sidewalk between too-expensive-to-even-consider condos and 10 stories of divorce-and-settlement-lawyers-who-don’t-give-a-bleep offices is mine today, not his.
I will not be the first to move.
I have a morning routine. It’s simple, really: get up, get ready, get coffee. I get up for the day at 7 a.m. I attempt to scare the sleep from my system with a shockingly cold shower that lasts all of five minutes. I leave my apartment in the wrong side of town at 7:30 a.m. and trudge to the nearest Starbucks. Starbucks means coffee. Starbucks, at 7:30 in the morning, is life.
Without that caffeine from my two-thirds-of-the-way-filled Double Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso and light whipped cream topped with a drizzle of that salty caramel syrup-y sauce, man, would I be sunk. Once, I tried to skip coffee for an entire week. There was this thing on the news, “Coffee Stunts Growth, Mental Capacity. Ruins Teeth.” Something like that. The first day without coffee, I was tired, but I managed. The second day without coffee, I didn’t function until noon. The third day without coffee, I overslept and was late to work. The fourth day without coffee, I drank a Red Bull in the morning instead. The fourth day without coffee, I was fired for “frightening the clients” at the law firm for which I was receptionist.
Moral of the story? I need my coffee.
When my Starbucks in the wrong side of town closed, I was devastated. The nearest Starbucks was a mile-and-a-half away. At first, I wasn’t about to walk all that way for Starbucks. But, all the coffee I tried in cafés, bookstores, teeny tiny hipster places — it all tasted like mud. It was not Starbucks. I tried making my own coffee. More mud. I tried soda pop. I got sick and, later, fired. Again.
The week after that, I walked the half-hour, mile-and-a-half walk to the now-nearest Starbucks. This Starbucks is conveniently closer to my new job. Unfortunately, this Starbucks also comes with him
My first day trekking to this new Starbucks, I had an interview scheduled. Since I lost my last job, I had applied for assistant positions, receptionist positions, secretary positions — I even applied to be a barista at Starbucks — until one panned out. Emerson and Gobbs, a married pair of divorce lawyers, called me back for an interview at 10:45 a.m. on a Tuesday. I needed my coffee. I walked the mile and a half to Starbucks.
There I was, minding my own business, blundering my way through the world, walking down this very sidewalk. You can still see the evidence of that morning there, and there, and there, on the pavement. Little splotches of black and brown and green, for some reason.
He had plenty of time to see me, but no. He was too busy texting. He couldn’t be bothered to look up. No, he kept walking, no matter what was in his way. Or who was in his way.
Guess who was in his way.
The only thing that’s worse than waking up with a shockingly cold shower at seven in the morning? Being jolted into mental clarity a good hour-and-a-half too early when an entire cup full of scalding hot coffee is poured down your shirt.
Mr. Texter apparently needs his coffee too. Or at least, I assume so, since he hadn’t drunk any of his before he walked right into me.
After the collision, he just stared. He didn’t apologize, or offer to help, or run to go get napkins to save my ruined shirt. He chose to stare at me as if I had grown a third head.
Well, that’s not true. He stared, and then he ran. It was a burn and run. He gave me first-degree burns from his no-nonsense black coffee, and then he ran and left me looking like a paper-aging experiment gone wrong. And of course, I didn’t have enough time to go home and change. I cleaned up as best I could in the Starbucks bathroom before ordering my complicated drink and leaving for Emerson and Gobbs.
Emerson pitied me. Gobbs laughed at me. Both said I had guts for showing up to the interview in such a state. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
Two weeks later, back on the interview beat, I made the trek to Starbucks again. I had an interview at Pieces, a ceramics gallery in need of a receptionist to chat up the intentionally-broken-then-reassembled vases, and pitchers, and mugs, to clients. Pieces was only five blocks away from my now-nearest Starbucks. And it was an in to the art world, you see.
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