Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee
I was standing outside the Chinese shop while I talked on the phone. Crisp night, autumn-darker, a few different engines running at low volume. A couple doors down is the ABC store so people were parking while their partners picked out liquor. I don’t know why people do this – hang like fish in the open ocean, suspended, ready to bolt with the tide – but they do, especially when alcohol’s involved. For the people purchasing, it must be nice to know there’s so much anticipation buzzing for them outside.
I was talking about work. My work, her work. We’d both had busy weeks, and the weeks weren’t always easy. She told me about a coworker who was having a rough time, how he was being tossed around by institutional pressures. And she wanted to help him if she could, or let him know that someone had an engine running for him outside, but she wasn’t sure where the line was between a person’s public and private life, what was okay to ask, and I wasn’t sure either. Along the boardwalk, as we talked, people went back and forth with brown bags, an old man in a green polo was shutting down a store advertising vacuum cleaners.
At home, after dinner, I was thinking about all the people I’ve worked with. Here, there, and elsewhere, some who seemed happy and some who didn’t. A friend from an old office is struggling with her identity and she talks about it online. I had a manager at a clothing store who chain-smoked outside the stockroom door. There’s a woman who moved to Iowa for her family and another who collects old metal keys to hang on her office door. I never asked any of them to elaborate. I never asked if their happy days were really happy, or what was rooted in the days that weren’t.
And I end up feeling thankful for the people who keep the gas running for me.
Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin
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We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way.Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart