Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the HUMOR Genre (10/09/14)
- TITLE: More than Coffee (My Starbucks Chronicles)
By Francy Judge
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I try to read and write and not watch the other customers, but sometimes I can’t help but scan the place for possible characters ideas. Somehow I connect with every customer because we all decided to go to Starbucks at the same time on the same day. Who knows? Maybe God wanted me to cross paths with these strangers so I’d pray for them. And I do.
One drained-looking lady with tangled hair comes in every day to order a brownie. Just a brownie; if they don’t have any, she leaves without her goody bag. Does she have a family? Or a home to cook her favorite food? Does she eat anything else? Why? All I know about this lady is that she lives close enough to walk, and she likes brownies. I wonder if she’s had a hard life. I can guess and make judgments, but God knows her whole story and loves her.
A man with paper white hair inches his silver Buick into the parking lot, so careful as if not to knock the imaginary egg off a cone—flashback for Brady Bunch fans. As he gets out, he steps into a puddle, his car door smacks into the car parked next to him. The old guy doesn’t seem to mind. He continues into Starbucks as if nothing happened. His loafers squeak as he heads to the bathroom. Second person to leave without getting anything. How does anyone smell rich coffee brewing with a hint of hazelnut in the air and not want some?
I try not to listen to the staff’s conversations, but they have to chat over the loud volume of jazz in the background. Over the breathy singer’s voice from the fifties and the smooth saxophone, one worker reveals who broke up with who and who is dating who. Lives are shared in that small space. Do hearts open wider after a jolt of caffeine? It’s obvious that mouths are opened, not just to drink, but to verbalize what the caffeine has stirred up. I’ve never seen a bouncier group of workers. They must sample the beverages each hour on the job. Do they sleep at night? Or does their whirlwind continue at home? I pray for what’s hidden behind the smiles.
Another man enters wearing a neon yellow vest—must be a construction worker who doesn’t want to get hit by a car as he works in a dangerous zone. He’s in and out with a trip to the John and no coffee. I admire someone who can stay awake at work without coffee. Maybe he’s a Mountain Dew drinker. I pray for his safety.
The lady knitter is back. I know she knits because her sweater is hand-knit, her skirt, hat, scarf and pocketbook. Probably her underwear too, but that’s not for me to know. I asked her if she sells her creations anywhere. “No, just my hobby.” That’s the extent of my Starbucks conversation—something I need to work on instead of always disappearing in written words.
I wonder if the other customers are watching me and thinking “Here comes the strange lady with the backpack of books who orders the same drink everyday plus a small cup of hot water for oatmeal she brings.” They might notice that I lay my napkins the same way and spend equal parts of my time reading and writing like clockwork. That I rush out like Cinderella not to be late to work from my lunch break. They may notice me closing my eyes to pray and think I’m sleeping. Okay, sometimes I am dozing off from lack of sleep, not lack of mega doses of caffeine in my latte. But often I am praying for one of them.
In my daily Starbucks experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that Starbucks is known for more than their coffee—their bathroom, brownies and gossip. I know it as a place to sprinkle some silent prayers.
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