Monday, January 12, 2009

Things Not To Say in a Coffee Shop

Today I made the mistake (for the second time) of having whipped cream. This wouldn’t be a big deal for the average, ice-cream-eating, milk-guzzling person. However, if you are lactose intolerant…it’s not so great. Normally, when I have milk, I get a sudden panicky feeling and then get sick. Recently, I’ve developed a new symptom which includes excessive hyperness and lack of dexterity. So, I dropthings. Large, clanky things like a container and a broom, and other things. But, dang. I couldn’t stop moving! And I keep trying to talk so fast that I can’t get the words out and it’s sounded like a verbal trainwreck.

No more milk for me.

And, dangit, this is also the third time I’ve gotten coffee on my nice white American Eagle jacket. You’d think I’d learn…??

Actually, today was a pretty good day. Productive morning, and not much drama at work.

But, of course, there’s always some kind of drama at work. When I arrived, the “homeless” man was there. The homeless man has a wife and two sons (1 year, 9 weeks) and supposedly lives in a house with a garden in the backyard that looks out over the high school’s football field (except that there are no houses surrounding the football field, in fact, it is surrounded by pine trees). He works at Taco Bell, and rides his bike 9 miles there and 9 miles back, though sometimes he can afford cab fare. His rent is paid by a local church, and he and his wife are extremely health-oriented and word has it that they put the “high” in “high school.” (Lame joke of the day!!) When the homeless man is in the coffee shop, he can usually be found examining a pile of rocks, and playing cards that do not look unlike those found in the TV show Yughio.

Today, he had the largest sketchbook I have ever seen. It was probably thicker than the 7th Harry Potter book. Joe was also folding printed paper and distributing origami creations. I like to stay on his good side, because (the rumor is) he tried to kill his wife. He told me something along the lines of “The police and my wife believe I tried to kill her, but that’s not really what happened.”

I may be stupid sometimes, but I know well enough not to get on an attempted murderer’s bad side.

He informed me that he only feels welcome in the coffee shop when Ashley (a coworker), the ex-manager, or myself is working. Some people just don’t appreciate creative and imaginative minds. Like his schizophrenic friend, who isn’t really schizophrenic, but just crazy and OCD, came into Taco Bell and heard a man singing off key. He went up to that man, slammed his tray on the ground, breaking it to bits and held a jagged piece to the man who was singing and declared “You want to start this? Okay, it’s on.” Being OCD, he cannot bear anyone singing off-key. And how incredible it was that he spoke his mind! ….. Joe went on with that story, and somehow made his way onto the top of psychiatrists, and how he doesn’t like them because he twisted his words around. "They think that all my problems came from childhood, violence or abuse!” He recited a list of things that psychiatrists think mean other things. Each of those “other things” was quite perverted.

“I don’t think you should talk about such innapropriate things in a coffee shop,” I told him, ”I know it’s just me and Ashley now, but someone could walk in the backway and hear you talking like that.”

“See!” he exclaimed. “Exactly! I should be able to say whatever I want and not be judged for it. There’s a coffee shop in St. Paul that you can say anything you’d like in and not get in trouble for it. Why can’t I say whatever I want here?”‘

“Well,” I went over my the microwave, thankful that the pastry cabinet was blocking his view of me. “It’s a small town, and word travels fast. More people know each other and you have to be more careful about what you say.”

I said some other things that sounded completely logical and rational, and I swear God gave me the right words to say. Just then, Ashley got up from the table and a put a note down on the counter: THIS MAN IS FREAKIN CRAZY! I glanced over at Joe, who was focused on his sketchbook.

God also blessed me with more customers, and Joe decided to leave. Before he left, he ordered half a refill (50 cents) and gave me $2, telling me to “keep the rest.” That is very thoughtful, but the man practically is homeless and I don’t feel right taking money FROM a homeless person, but I didn’t want to disgrace him completely (I never noticed how wild his eyes looked before) so I gave him a dollar bill back. “No, please. Go buy your son a toy at the dollar store. I’m sure he’d love that!” Distracted, Joe said, yes, his son always did amire those foam swords….

He made his way towards the back exit and promised me that he’d make photocopies of his origami book so I can, as well, enjoy the art.

New characters for my book! Again, you cannot make this stuff up.
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