Now there are a lot of things I don't know. Like why they think putting a cow in a hat is gonna make me want to buy their milk or how tortoises of all things survived this long, but the one thing that beats the rest: how my boss could think that comb over is actually better than going bald.
Here I am on my first day of work and as he's showing me how to use the espresso machine all I can do is stare at his greasy, little hairs that were yanked this way and that to cover up his shining cranium. Seriously instead of wasting so much money on NASA we should just shine a spotlight on his head. If that doesn't get the aliens attention nothing will.
"Jason, did you catch any of that?"
I dragged my eyes down to meet his. They were a piercing shade of blue. "Yeah, Mr. Waters, you flip a few switches and don't panic if the machine sounds like its screaming for mercy. That's just the sound of sweet, sweet coffee."
"Coffee's bitter," he said.
"Well you should be fine." For the umpteenth time he checked his watch with a bit of a jump. "I gotta go. My lady friend's got her lunch break soon."
"But aren't you married?"
"Not for the next hour." He tousled my hair and missed my look of disgust as he skipped out the door like an over-sized school girl.
Once he was out of sight I tried to flatten down my hair, but the mahogany colored mop stayed as puffy as ever. I shoved both hands in my green work apron as I stepped over to the register. With this being such a small coffee shop they didn't need more than one employee working at a time which left me alone to serve a girl who wouldn't stop tapping the side of her latte and a guy who bought one pint-sized croissant, so he can stay for the internet access.
The girl glanced up at me, her tapping never missing a beat. "Excuse me, Sir?"
"No free refills. You gotta buy another," I said.
She giggled. "No, not that, you look bored. Care to ponder life with me?"
I really looked at her for the first time. Her platinum blonde hair covered her like a veil. She wore a green jacket. She kind of looked like a lime topped with whip cream.
Alright, I really shouldn't have skipped breakfast this morning.
I said, "No thanks, I've had more than my fair share of that."
Her thin lips formed a small frown. "But isn't talking to someone better than standing alone at the register?"
She giggled again, but I couldn't tell you what she thought was so amusing. "Edgar Allan Poe."
She quit tapping and turned her chin up to face me. With a round face and misty eyes, she reeked of child-like wonder. "Edgar Allan Poe. He was a tortured soul who wrote original and amazing stories and poems."
"I thought you were pondering life, not a dead guy," I said.
She continued with no indication of hearing me. "He spent his entire life recording his emotions using inventive techniques, spectacular settings, and peculiar characters. Crazy man, tragic life, genius writing. Something knocks him down, and he continues his suffering in ink. Now what has this torture earned him? What has his entire life boiled down to? A forty-five minute class discussion that the teacher doesn't even care about."
I blinked. This girl thought way too much. "What should we do? Worship him for going insane?"
"No…" her hands reached out as if trying to grasp onto something. "No but is that what you want your life to mean to people? No one cares about it?"
I heard my stomach growl but shrugged it off. "At least people still talk about him. His writing made him immortal."
She tapped again, this time more rapidly. "His writing will live forever, not his memory, and eventually his writing will go to. People will stop caring. You could express all your emotions, pour your heart out in a journal or on a canvas, spend hours on end, and a critic will take two seconds of their time to say 'I don't get it' and walk away with the tip of his smug, little nose bumping into the clouds. Maybe you could write out your whole autobiography, and no one would bat an eyelash. Maybe no one really cares about your life or relating to your feelings but you."
My stomach growled again, and my eyes leapt to the display case. They wouldn't miss one cinnamon roll, would they? I scooted over there and said, "Maybe you're right. No one cares, but why should they? We're all too focused on our own lives."
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Breakfast," I said with my head in the display case.
"No, not that, you don't seem that concerned that your life means nothing."
"I'm more concerned you don't like the latte."
She nodded vigorously causing her straight hair to sway. "Oh don't worry; I love the latte… almost as much as I love Edgar Allan Poe."
"Oh my god, don't start again," I begged. I shoved the whole cinnamon roll in my mouth. I spent the next few moments coughing and choking, but it was worth it. Eating cinnamon rolls wasn't an experience to be savored but devoured. If you're going to be gluttonous, you've got to do it right.
She waited patiently the whole time, legs crossed and blue eyes watching me like it was her goal to make this as uncomfortable as it could be. I scowled at her, but she took no heed. Well, if she could be awkward, I could be rude.
"Do you have any social skills at all?"
To my chagrin she giggled. "Not anymore than you. That's why we go together."
If I still had any of that cinnamon roll, I would've choked on it. "…T-together?"
"Of course, we live in a world where no one cares, right? We might as well stick together." She stood up and backed away from her table. "See you soon, Jason!"
I must've driven away a couple of customers because I spent the next few minutes staring at the door long after the bell had chimed on her way out. It took me far longer than it should have to realize she knew my name because of my name tag. Why did she assume we'd ever meet again?
"What the hell…" I muttered and shook my head while trying and failing to get the image of her long hair and loud jacket out of my mind.
So yeah... I could start a series of their little coffee shop conversations. Anyone up for it?