It’s good to see you.
You’ve been coming in earlier lately. I noticed last Tuesday because I usually remind you to grab a sleeve for your grande no whip kids temp white chocolate mocha. But that morning you remembered. What made you come in early? Do you want more time to see me?
This morning you seemed nervous. Did you forget to study for your Microeconomics exam? I know that last week your friend seemed pretty shocked when you told her that you were worried you wouldn’t pass this semester.
Who was she, anyway? She ordered a venti mocha frappuccino with 3 scoops of matcha. That’s what we call the “Shrek Frappuccino.” Personally, I think you deserve friends that are as smart and intellectually mature as you are.
You came in later than usual today, 11 a.m. I was on my first ten minute break when I saw your Adidas hoodie down the boulevard. I didn’t think you could possibly be coming in, not this late, had you skipped class? And yet, there you were. You entered the store smiling and for a moment- just a moment- it was just us.
I wasn’t just some Starbucks barista taking comedy classes at The Second City and you weren’t harbored by academia. You and I were finally together and nothing could take that away from us.
Then, you accidentally spilled all of the straws from their container at the bar onto the floor. Your smile is so charming when you’re embarrassed.
You forgot to come in all week. On Thursday I saw someone wearing your Adidas hoodie on the street and began steaming the milk for your latte.
But it wasn’t you.
I dumped the milk pitcher in the ice bin and watched the cubes melt.
It was an accident.
You seem happier than usual today. Is it because it’s been nine whole days since you’ve come in for your white mocha? You must have been so tired with no coffee all week.
I can’t imagine you’d ever get coffee from anyone else. Would you?
While on my lunch I walked toward campus for my seventh cigarette. I thought I saw someone who looked just like you at Barnes n’ Nobles in their tiny decrepit piece-of-shit Starbucks. But that couldn’t have been you. That Starbucks always deliberately runs out of cake pops. You love cake pops.
Yesterday morning, you asked me if I also attended the college down the street.
I love that you’re always so curious. You said that you thought you may have seen me at a party last weekend. When I told you I didn’t go there you joked that you must have been “a little drunk, I guess.” You’re funny like that.
But you and I both know you were plastered that night.
My manager said that she saw you while I was in the restroom today. She said you recently moved closer to campus, which explains your 4-day absence. Apparently I had just missed you.
Later while mopping I thought of the baristas in the Barnes n’ Noble Starbucks and slammed the bucket into the massive mug display so that each and every one of them would smash on the tile.
Today I watched as you forgot to throw away your straw wrapper for your cup of water but it was okay because you still remembered my name.
It’s been two weeks since you’ve come in but today you’ve decided to eat your bacon gouda sandwich in our cafe. You seem sleepier than usual, distracted even. What’s distracting you? Is it your Shrek friend? You’re probably not drinking enough coffee.
I can tell that your smile is forced when you later order a grande no whip regular temp white chocolate mocha. What else has changed about you?
My manager says that the amount of accidents during my shifts has started to become an issue, so she’s taken me off of the register. I’ve been stuck in the back doing dishes. I keep checking the cameras to see if it’s you but after shocking the third man wearing an Adidas hoodie I was written up.
It’s not the same here without you.
There’s something poetic about making coffee while surrounded by works of literature. I’m your motivator, your inspiration for beautiful work, your silent champion of innovative microeconomics studies while surrounded by the works of Twain, Woolf, Faulkner.
I learned quickly to disregard the lack of tips or standard health regulation. Those were all trivial irrelevancies once I got to see the look on your face when you realized that I’d been transferred to the Barnes n Noble location. It was priceless. You asked me what had happened and I told you I’d started to attend classes at the college so this store would be a better fit for my schedule.
That’s the truth. I don’t like the way lying to you feels anymore so I start classes next Tuesday.
I’ll never forget what you said next. Not till the day we die together.
“I guess you and I are destined to see each other!” you joked. Did you know that your laugh was the first thing I ever fell in love with?
We’re supposed to be together. It may not be obvious to you, yet, but you’re starting to get closer to the truth. You and I are already closer to our destiny. You, in your collegiate studies and Adidas street-wear and me, in my green apron and sharpie-stained sweater. I’ll always be your provider, your protector, anytime you’re even slightly tired or feel the slightest tinge of thirst in the back of your throat.
Your devoted barista will always be there. For you.