by Sophie Petit
Four men with gray hair sit in Starbucks – three read the Sunday New York Times, six dollars at the counter. The other holds a small, brown book with no title or picture on the cover. He sits, holding the book, then stands and tells his reading neighbor to “have a good one” and leaves.
A younger-looking man walks in and up to the counter, orders a soy no foam and I think “Soy what?” But the barista knows, and that’s what matters. He tells the barista, after receiving his drink, “Thanks. Take it easy.” Everyone wanting everyone to have good ones and take it easy.
A gaggle of young patrons enter. The fat one is quiet. The blond is obnoxious. He says loudly, “I hope there are security cameras in here,” and complains about the location of the trashcan. A girl tells him lightly, “Chill out,” and I think about what if instead, after receiving our coffees, we told the baristas, “Hey, thanks. Chill out.” It wouldn’t have the same benign effect as “take it easy.”
The barista says something to the gaggle, and they all laugh, including the adult leader. They laugh loudly and together, they really laugh, enjoying this involuntary expression of pleasure, and they like him, this barista. He made their coffees exactly how they like them and they only had to give him sixteen dollars and he said something funny and a bit flattering to no one in particular so there is no jealousy and they really laughed, and for a moment an eight-hour drive back to Cincinnati doesn’t seem so bad.