Category: Books Read

COFFEE SHOP TALK-The Good and The Bad

I’m about to pay when a woman pokes in front of me, hands the server change and orders a coffee. The server who I called Shirley for years but whose name, I found out today is Marion, says, “You have to go to the back of the line.” The woman is in a hurry. She has to catch the bus. Marion tells her she doesn’t care. The woman leaves. “I know I’m being a bitch today but too bad,” Marion says. 

“It’s okay, sometimes dealing with people can be difficult,” I say. 

The perky woman behind me pipes in, “I worked in customer service for years and I loved it.”

“It’s been awful since early this morning,” Marion says. “A guy tried to pay with his phone but it wouldn’t work and he kept jiggling it and jiggling it and it still wouldn’t work. And he wanted me to call the manager. I told him it’s his phone. The manager can’t fix it. All the time the line kept getting longer and longer and he was getting more and more annoying.”

“Well, I’m a people person,” perky woman says. “I love people.”

I want to ask her if telling everyone in line about her people loving skills makes her superior and does she realize she’s made Marion feel worse. But I don’t. Instead, I pick up my coffee and take to the back. 

“Hi Sammy,” I say to the man sitting in my seat, then regret it.  A few years ago he bought the café where I spent every morning writing Sunshine Girls. He’d turned it into an old boys’ business club. They would spread their newspapers and work on two tables. Wouldn’t move it when I asked. Sammy told me they had the right. Turned out they were his friends. That’s how I ended up in Coffee Shop. Now here he is, years later in my seat arrogant as I remember. And I hate that I said hello.

“Sold the café,” he says when I sit down at the table two over from his. “It’s now a juice bar.”

I don’t care. I’m interested in what’s happening across the room. The man I call, Mafia Boss, is chatting up two elderly ladies. And I think: How come we can no longer be vocal about having a bad day? What’s with only positivity allowed and no negativity? Don’t they slide together? And how mafia can you be in a bright yellow jersey making two grey-haired ladies giggle like schoolgirls?  Who knows? All I know Marion is having a bad day. And I’m in Coffee Shop drinking from a red cup. 

From Datsun to Yaris

1973_datsun_1200-pic-3191353074018774250-640x480I’ve had a few cars starting with a ’73 red Datsun, bought with a Chargex card, as it was known at the time. The first weekend I had it, on a drive to Jackson’s Point, it stalled. I had it towed to the nearest garage. It was a picky car—didn’t like to get wet, shut down at red lights in the rain. I didn’t blame it; no one likes getting wet. Then came a brand new 1981 silver Citation—a lazy car. It wouldn’t wake up in the mornings, especially in the winter. It only started by putting a stick in the carburetor. It went back to the dealer many times but they couldn’t fix the problem.

I gave up on the Citation and bought a second-hand 1970s Acadian. I soon found out there was a trick to starting it: put it in neutral, push it while running long side and steering then jump it turn the ignition and ram it into drive. Not safe so I moved on to a Pontiac Sunbird station wagon. A great car, no complaints about it, except the rack on the roof. For days I heard something rattling around. I finally found out what was making the noise. I had left my son’s baby bottle on the roof. It rolled back and forth between the racks. Once after a barbeque I left a paper plate with a piece of pie on top. I remembered it when I got home and hoped it didn’t smash into someone’s window shield. For some reason, I bought a blue Buick known as the Bu-ICK. Every once in awhile it hiccupped, backfired and black smoke flew out of the tail pipe. A condition that was unfixable. A Renault sounded like a good idea. Something different, I thought. Except, I had to learn to drive standard. I burnt rubber every time I drove off in first gear. My sons requested that I walk them and not drive them to elementary school. The squealing tires embarrassed them especially when I took off like a bullet at a traffic light. Once two young men thought I wanted to race them so, they revved up their engine and waved as they sped past me. That was short lived. A Ford Tempo came next. That car screamed whenever I turned it on or pressed on the gas pedal or turned a corner. No one could fix it. Like everything in life it was a good thing and a bad thing. I left the car doors unlocked, and I didn’t have to close the windows in the summer. I had a built in car alarm. If anyone stole it, they would have left it at the side of the road the minute they heard it screech. In the end, the bottom rusted away. I have to admit I felt a little sad as I watched it being towed away to the car cemetery. That’s when the red Chevrolet came into my life. For some reason no one could ever figure out, it had it’s own weather system inside the car. In the winter I drove with an ice rink under my feet in my mother’s fur coat. Sometimes it was cloudy and foggy, and it even rained and snowed from inside the roof. It eventually rusted away, and I inherited a green Pontiac Sunfire. A nice car but too low on the road for me, and the mat kept getting stuck around the gas pedal which made slowing down impossible.

2012-toyota-yaris-hatchback-automatic-test-review-car-and-driver-photo-465503-s-429x262Now I drive a 2012 red Yaris. I love it. I’ve had it for four years. It made a little squeal the other day. Not loud, just enough to make me panic. No way was I driving a car that screamed as it if was being murdered, not again. So, I rushed it off to the dealer. “Not to worry,” said the service technician, “we’ll fix her up.” It turned out the drive belt needed a slight adjustment. So far so good, no screeching, or hiccups or fog—I think I’ll stay with it.