By: Steffi Delcourt
Because really, who wants to be a receptionist for the rest of their life? Not me. I had aspirations. And they happened to include going to work five blocks away from a Starbucks.
This time, the Starbucks run was on a Wednesday, with my interview at 9:30 a.m. on the gallery floor. I passed the condominiums, stopped, backed up. Checked my reflection in the windows. I was aiming for chic, not stuffy like my last interview. I was also not drenched in sepia tones this time around. I fluffed my hair before turning back toward Starbucks. I rounded the corner, only to come face to face with him.
“Oh!” slipped out before I could rein it back in. He turned red. He wasn’t texting this time, but he still had his coffee. I moved to my right to walk around him. He moved to his left. I moved to my left; he moved to his right. Back and forth, back and forth. This is not happening, I thought. I feinted left and dashed to my right, clipping his shoulder with my purse. He wobbled, but I was free and unstained. I collected my coffee and aced the interview. I had a job! As a result of my new job, my morning routine changed a bit. It is still get up, get ready, get coffee. Still includes a shockingly cold shower. Still requires a serious jolt of caffeine from my coffee. Thankfully, I can easily delay the process an hour.
And now there’s a Starbucks conveniently on my everyday route.
Unfortunately, Starbucks comes with him.
No matter when I leave my house, or how fast or slow I walk, or how colorful my clothing is, I always run into him. He’s always got his tantalizingly-delicious-smelling to-go cup of black-coffee-no-cream-nosugar. Thank the sweet baby Jesus he learned something from our first encounter and no longer texts while walking because that dry cleaning bill was astronomical. My wallet can’t handle that again.
We always meet at that corner — at this corner — and try to get around each other. We dance the awkwardwalking-dance for a minute before one of us outmaneuvers the other. Although, lately, that has changed. Whenever he sees me coming, he stops. He doesn’t move until I’ve passed him by a good 30 feet. The nerve. He thinks he can just taunt me like that? Stand there, on this corner, in between the condos and the offices, and stare me down as I walk by? He thinks he can get away with blatant insolence?
Today, I reached this corner first. Today, this corner is mine.
Today, I will not be the first to move.
I can picture it now, him walking towards my corner, strutting along, sipping out of his cup, with his blazer flapping behind him like some wannabe-cape.
I will not be the first to move.
I look at my watch. 9:08 a.m. Saturday. He should be here any minute.
It ticks. And ticks. And ticks.
9:15 a.m. Still not here.
9:30 a.m. Maybe he’s not coming. Which is weird, seeing as he’s as addicted to his coffee as I am. He has to be. Why else would we keep running into each other, day in and day out?
9:35 a.m. If he’s not here in 10 minutes, I’ll leave.
9:41 a.m. Finally. He rounds the corner, holding his regular green thermos of steaming caffeinated goodness. I shift my weight, setting my face into a scowl. He’ll see who he’s messing with. I will not be the first to move.
He walks up to me. It’s then I notice a second to-go cup in his left hand. He looks me straight in the eye.
I will not be the first to move.
“Here,” he says, holding out the second cup. Not giving me a chance to refuse it, he puts it in my hand before walking around me.
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