I waited for my cappuccino. The barista at this particular coffee shop was always very charming. He used words like “darling” and “sweetheart”, “sugar” and “honey”. He served terms of endearment with nearly every cup of coffee—uppers, all around.
Come to think of it, everyone who works at that coffee shop is usually pleasant. The two lesbian girls, the tall dreadlocked man, the frat boy look alike, they seemed content to be there which is a lot more than one can say for most coffee shops.
Recently, a Dunkin Donuts opened up the street from me. Their ads have told me that they have great coffee, though I haven’t ever tried it. There was that one ad where a woman walked through backyards during a traffic jam to get coffee for her carpool. I liked to ad but I fear Dunkin Donuts. I worry the moment I walk through the door, I’ll leave with a box of Munchkins with a side of coffee. The last time I had a munchkin’ my metabolism was much more reliable. Over the years, I have learned to stay away from these nuggets of nostalgia.
Hey, Dude! What are you doing down here? Aren’t you supposed to be running the shop over in your part of the hood?
The barista smiled at the tall man in line. They knew each other. I guessed that the customer must work for the independently run computer. Mikey, the guy who started the computer shop, had just opened up his third location. One was near the coffee shop in which we stood, another was near the Dunkin Donuts closer to where I live. and another in Greenpoint proper.
Yeah. I’m opening down here today.
Didn’t they open a Dunkin Donuts up your way? You getting your coffee from there now? Dunkin’ Donuts, man.
The barista winked.
No fucking way, I’m frequenting Dunkin Donuts, man. I can’t eat that shit. Plus, they lie about their coffee. It isn’t that great.
My cappuccino was finished.
Hear you go, sweetie. One cappuccino.
I dropped a dollar in the tip jar and walked over to the milk, sugar, coffee insulator counter.
Man, didn’t they add a walk-up window to that Dunkin Donuts? A walk-up window? The hell is that?
The customer laughed and shook his head.
Yep. They did indeed add a walk-up window.
A walk-up window, man. It makes sense though. TOO FAT TO FIT THROUGH THE DOOR? NO WORRIES! WE GOT A WALK-UP WINDOW!
A chorus of laughter filled the coffee shop giving immediate proof that I wasn’t the only one eavesdropping. He did whatever he could to make us feel more awake even if it was at the expense of others. Our laughs idled. I collected my coffee and walked by the daily coffee campers clicking away at their laptops. I walked by the 9 AM hangovers, the 12-hour dates, and the morning runners.
Outside, the sidewalks steamed settling in against the brisk morning air. There were very few cars. A neighborhood that was normally bustling with sound was eerily yet wonderfully quiet. I sipped my coffee and inhaled deeply. It was Saturday morning. The hours ahead laid before me like empty canvas waiting for stories.