I live next to a coffee shop in Brooklyn, right next to the Myrtle–Wyckoff stop by the L and M trains. I’ve been going there to for over two years now. I don’t mean like casually visiting within the past two years, but I mean I am literally in this coffee shop every day from 8 to 8:15AM. The woman who serves me my coffee is a small, Mexican woman in her fifties and she always takes my order in a rush. However, she also makes sure to make sure I have a jacket on, that my voice doesn’t sound like I’m catching a cold. She looks at my face to analyze whether or not I’m sleeping well. This happens in less than five seconds.
Every time I make a purchase she tells me a small detail about her life right before I step back and say “okay thanks! have a great day!” She tells me her heat is out, her daughter can’t afford daycare, a new gym opened in her neighborhood but she still prefers walking to work. Her son’s wife is pregnant and he’s been promoted to head security guard. I’m always a little taken aback, but I also look forward to this every morning.
So yes, I keep coming back and I leave each morning with a large hot coffee with almond milk and one Splenda. I never know what to say to her because she shoos me away before I can really respond. “You’re holding up the line, mija!!” But I worry that she doesn’t have anyone to talk to, or that she doesn’t know much I look forward to our five second exchanges together. Does she know that she is often times the best part of my morning? Does she know that she makes me miss my mom less?
There’s a moment when I hand her my Bank of America debit card, that I always think of how I’m going to respond to whatever news she throws at me today. But I don’t ever really say anything, because I realize this is more about her moment than mine.
I always say “I’ll keep you in my thoughts and I can’t wait to see you tomorrow” in broken Spanish, and none of what I just said is untrue. But then I rush out because I know that if I hold up the line she’ll tell me less tomorrow.