So I was sitting in Starbucks minding my own business, trying not to be distracted by the baldish Hari Krishna person dressed in bright orange who may just have been a trendy female with sunglasses perched on top of his/her head, or by the self-important woman talking loudly on her cell, or the discussion of why Kate Middleton’s wedding was making prime time news on all major television channels. I sat facing the open window enjoying the sun and the blueness of the day, isolated in a crowded Starbucks.
My peripheral vision barely registered a man who entered, and excused himself to talk to a patron who sat nearby. He mumbled something and I heard her profusely apologize. I then heard “excuse me” in my air space, and the same man who I barely noticed, was now trying to get my attention. He looked scraggly, with dry ashy skin and an unkempt appearance. I’m just saying he definitely was not the typical Starbucks patron. I’m not even sure what he asked as I was high off Albuterol from an asthma test I had taken twenty minutes before, but it was something about wanting some help getting food. I offered to buy him some food from the display case. I could be wrong, but as he tilted his head, I perceived that he tried to figure out some way not to accept the offer of food, but spin it into some cash (?? just saying). Maybe the Albuterol glazed look in my eyes made him realize the futility of a cash offering.
I walked with him to the display case and suggested a sandwich. There were three sandwich containers which all contained turkey and cheese. He mulled over the three for a long while, and then requested the pound cake. I shook my head no, and again suggested a sandwich. He mentioned that he was so hungry and thirsty, and asked the cashier for two pieces of pound cake, like a vague “mano-a-mano” bond was going to override my hard cash. I suggested he needed protein more than sugar. Then I had a thought that maybe I was being too controlling but I felt a need to treat him like a child; protein is much more important that sugar, yes?
“What’s your story Mr. Man?” I ask.
“I just got into town, and don’t have a car or a place to stay.”
“Where are you from?”
“Oh! What part of Michigan?”
“Umm, Milwaukee is in Wisconsin?”
He laughs. “It’s the heat.”
I left that thread alone. The cashier was in a tug of war when again Mr. Man asked for the pound cake, so I firmly stated that I would not buy sugar since protein was more nutritious. Mr. Man ended up with only two cartons of milk. In retrospect, a sugar fix is probably what he needed in lieu of a solid pharmaceutical fix (just saying). He left the store reluctantly. I know Mr. Man was now sorry he targeted me.
I moved outside to escape the too cool a/c ambiance. Fifteen minutes later I watched as Mr. Man from Milwaukee, Michigan sauntered up and again entered Starbucks.
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