THIS ONE BARISTA AT CARIBOU COFFEE
She’s very mousy looking with thin hair cut short just below her ears
and every time I come in she’s the first to say hello to me,
like she has a sixth sense about my arrival times
as random as they are. I order the usual
—coffee in a mug with room—
and she’s awkward and asks me
how my week’s been and I always reply the same: “It’s okay.”
I never ask about hers and by the time my computer is out
and I have my headphones on listening to whatever
she’s always spying on me from behind the coffee machinery
handing out elementary school-style smiles and giggles like
I’m the first man she’s ever had a crush on.
Then one day I’m busy working and I see her
snaking toward me. She sidles up next to me and
makes a motion for me to remove my headphones which
annoys me and when I do she’s asking me how I am…again.
“I’m fine,” I say.
“Good,” she says. “So, I was wondering, do you
want to hang out sometime?”
And my face goes white. I look around and the patrons at
the tables next to me are snickering and whispering and
I try to be as nice as possible and say
“I’m sorry, but I have a girlfriend” even though I don’t.
“Oh, well, we could still hang out,” she says whimpering, pleading.
“Probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” I say. “Not fair to…her.”
“Oh, okay,” she says and smiles one last time a pathetic sort of smile
then disappears behind the counter.
The next week I come in and expect the worse
but she’s not working and I feel a bit relieved.
And a few more weeks go by and she’s never working
on the days I come in and out of curiosity I ask another barista
what happened to her.
“Oh, she transferred stores,” she says and I sit down
and take a sip of my coffee.