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The man at Starbucks

standard December 8, 2009 4 responses

He arrives an hour or so after I have set up shop at my favorite corner table. He walks in, looks around for an open table, and heads over to it. His Sudoku puzzle of the day and book are clutched in his left hand. He prints those puzzles out every morning. No newspaper cut-out for this aficionado. I like that kind of dedication to rituals.

When we first noticed each other months ago – the only two morning regulars at this particular Starbucks – we barely acknowledged each other. After a few mornings spent working at neighboring tables we started nodding a brief greeting. Today as he surveys the line at the counter our eyes meet and we smile at each other conspiratorially. I’ve been keeping an eye on his favorite table, hoping it would still be open when he arrived. Hoping he would arrive. I haven’t seen him in a few days and I’ve been worried.

He came in right on time today and I smiled a bit brighter than usual, taking him aback. I’ve missed my morning companion. He’s wearing the fleece vest that he always wears and his forest green shirt seems familiar too. He is the constant in my ever changing days and I feel more grounded when I start the day seeing him performing his coffee and Sudoku ritual.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he orders his Tall Latte and frown as he pulls out a brand new iPod touch instead of his printed out puzzle. I look around on his table to see if I can spot the folded sheet of white paper, but it’s nowhere to be seen.

A bit later, after some intense peering at his new gizmo, he jumps up when he sees the manager walk by. I strain to overhear their conversation. He can’t get online. The technology is failing him. I force myself to bite back a snort and keep my eyes focused on the computer screen.

Ten to one says that tomorrow he’s back, green shirt, black vest, wire rimmed glasses, and a printed out puzzle clutched in his hand. You can’t mess with morning rituals.

This post was written in response to the second {W}rite-of-Passage prompt – Character. I’m a bit of a rebel (and terrible at reading instructions) so instead of observing a stranger and building a story around him, I plucked one out of my day to day life and shared him with you. Visit the following posts to see how other writers tangled with this topic. Join us if you want some writing challenges!

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