We’re Just Like You, You Know?
They came in buzzing. There were only 3 of them but it felt like a herd or more accurately, a swarm.
The woman was short but seemed like it was the weight of the gold hanging from her neck, wrists and ears that pulled her toward the ground. She would have probably gained a foot or more if she removed her jewelry.
She had a thick accent. It sounded like Texas but as someone unfortunate enough to be born to people whose flat voices inspire automated systems worldwide, I couldn’t say for sure.
Her sunglasses stayed on. Her dyed brown hair moved as one mass atop her head.
She came up to the counter and began picking up each item, the sugar, the straws, the hole punch, with each item her cooing became more emphatic.
Behind her a man who looked more his age than she did shuffled through the cafe pointing and talking to himself.
The third of their party was a very tall man who nearly had to bend over at the waist to get in the front door. He stood near the woman, moved with her, but kept his eyes high on the walls or down on the floor and nodded in agreement with nothing.
They all suddenly as if on a silent cue turned and began talking to me at once.
The tall man said,” Hey honey. What are you doing there honey? Measuring coffee eh honey? I’ll have some coffee honey.”
The gold plated woman said,” Well you know we are just alike. We are from Guatemala we own a coffee plantation right there on Lake Atitlan so we are Coffee people ourselves you know.”
The bumbling man said,” How much for that stool?”
He was the only one I had a response for, “I’m sorry sir that stool is not for sale.”
“Yes, but how much does it cost?” he asked again.
“Sir that stool belongs to the coffee shop, we use it here for patrons to sit on. I can give you the phone number of our friend who makes and sells them.”
“No. I just want to know how much it is.”
“It’s not for sale.”
“Fine alright, how about the typewriter?”
The typewriter sat in the window above the desired stool. It had a piece of paper with typed messages from people who passed through.
“We are also using that here in the cafe. It’s not for sale.”
This was a coffee shop.
Not an antique store or a garage sale or a shopping mall. We sold coffee, it said so on the sign and on our business card and on our website.
He became flustered and returned to talking to himself because it was so frustrating trying to talk to me.
By the end of that exchange I had made a coffee for the tall man who was nearly drooling. There was a bulge that was noticeable because his height put it nearly at eye level.
The gold plated woman was buying a slough of souvenirs, t- shirts, bumper stickers to advertise to the world that she had once been to a real place, a place where not everything was for sale.
They gathered up the old man and flew down the stairs. From the window I watched them load into a nice big car. How the tall man fit, I will never know.
It was quiet then.
I shook my head to release the buzzing. I swept the floor. I locked the door. I ran as fast as I could to my garden.