Spotify Stalker

Spotify

Everyone at the coffee shop had a Mac except me. This was likely the case all along but the amount of people inside the shop due to the heat wave made it obvious. I bought my PC laptop used on Amazon from guy whose username was a mix of a date – most likely his birthday – and gen one Pokemon. The laptop ran on Windows 7. It wasn’t great in any way but it was mine. I used it to work, play Minecraft and watch porn.

Alex: Enjoying Taylor Swift?

I expected Alex to message me at this point in the afternoon. It was four on the east coast, and I knew by then he’d given up on work for the day.

Me: Maybe I am. I saw you listening to Beyoncé yesterday.

Alex: Yeah, but Beyonce’s done some great stuff. She’s earned my respect.

A man walked over and sat across from me at the back table where I always worked. He pulled from his leather bag a Mac and placed it on the counter. Over the Apple logo was a sticker of a different logo, one I didn’t recognize.

Me: Watch it, buddy or I’ll take you off my friends list.

I watched the man drink a an iced mocha from a large glass he placed next to his Mac. Anything helped, including this back table underneath the AC. I was surprised no one figured this out before this guy.

I wasn’t going to take Alex off my friends list but I did want to see what he’d say. He was the only guy I kept in contact with from high school. This was a recent development. I ran into him at the beach when I was home two months ago. Before then we hadn’t talked in years.

Alex: I’m just fucking with you.

I looked up and noticed the man was waving at me. I pulled out my left earbud.

“Do you mind watching my stuff for a sec?” he asked.

“No problem,” I said.

The man nodded and walked out with his phone in his hand. That guy was like me. He didn’t want to take calls in the coffee shop. That’s just rude, especially when someone’s sitting across from you, enjoying the AC because it’s so damn hot everywhere else.

Me: Yeah I know, sorry about that.

Alex: You haven’t changed since high school. You’re still so sensitive.

Me: Wow man, like you’ve changed so much? Tell your mom and dad I said hi when you go home.

“Thanks man,” the guy said and sat back down.

I nodded, replaced my earbud and looked back to my screen. Nothing. After twenty minutes I saw Alex signed off, or made himself invisible. I scrolled through my Spotify feed and looked at who was listening to what. Most of those I followed I hadn’t talked to in a while.

I stretched my arms and accidentally pulled out my earbuds from the computer jack. Taylor Swift blasted from my laptop speaker. The man looked up to me and laughed, hard. He laughed and shook his head with his eyes shut.

Me: Feel free to jab at me for listening to Taylor Swift whenever.

Whether Alex read my message I wasn’t sure. But that guy’s laughter. It played in my head long after I left the shop and into the heat.

Twitter Feed

Because some people get all the engagements…

Stevie was standing on line at the coffee shop, checking his twitter feed. He saw a YouTube celebrity he followed posted a photo. This celebrity posted ten seconds before. The tweet stats were as follows:

54 likes
22 retweets
9 comments

Jesus, Stevie thought to himself. He refreshed his feed. The tweet stats were as follows:

122 likes
78 retweets
23 comments

Jesus, Stevie thought again to himself.

“Sir can I help you?” the cashier asked.

Stevie ordered his sixteen ounce cup of black coffee, paid the two dollars – plus another fifty cent tip – and found a table. He refreshed his feed. The tweet stats were as follows:

224 likes
104 retweets
58 comments

All of this in just over two minutes. What the fuck, Stevie thought. He clicked into the tweet and scrolled through the comments.

“Looks lovely”
“OMG so jelly”
“Wish I was there”
“Jelly”
“I know where to have bae take me”

The coffee burnt Stevie’s lips so he pushed the mug to the side. Hotter than usual, he thought. He then continued reading, forgetting that the coffee ever burned his lips at all.

So many symbols! Stevie never used symbols in his tweets and prided himself on that. He recalled one of his followers commenting on this in a good way, back when he only had twenty-something followers. Stevie was now up to fifty-two followers with tweets that didn’t use symbols. He chuckled. The symbols he chuckled at were as follows:

Smiley faces
Birthday cakes
Thumbs-up
Ghosts
Devil faces with little devil horns.

Stevie then remembered something from the only anthropology class he took in college. Something about how symbols were used to convey meaning, before letters and an alphabet.

So that where we were headed, Stevie thought. Our society’s regressing back to a time of signs and symbols and pictures.

Stevie brought the mug back to himself. He took a sip and his lips didn’t burn. He knew none of that was very important to him, at least not at the moment. Stevie refreshed his feed. He liked the tweet, retweeted the tweet and then left a comment, asking the YouTube celebrity to follow him.

Coffee Shop Tease

“You order an egg sandwich every day,” I said to my roommate Charlie. I walked with him to the coffee shop near the house we rented. We both understood the need for routine and adopted this as our morning office space.

Charlie said nothing and started eating. I didn’t mind the smell of the eggs and cheddar cheese. I would’ve ordered one everyday too. But seven dollars? That would have been thirty-five dollars a week, assuming I didn’t go to the coffee shop on weekends, which I almost always did. Thirty five dollars equaled a week’s worth of groceries.

We shared the table and kept to ourselves. I wanted to send thirty or so emails, but I was distracted. Distracted by a goddamn egg sandwich. Honestly, it was more about the money than the sandwich. I started calculating in my head the cost of cheddar cheese, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread. Fifteen dollars, tops, depending on the quality of each ingredient. If every sandwich contained two eggs, one slice of cheese and two slices of bread, I could have had six sandwiches a week.

Charlie left around eleven to our house for some scheduled Skype calls with his boss, who was based in New York City. I stayed because I still had twenty emails to send. Then I wanted to do some writing. Or watch YouTube videos.

“Is this seat taken?” this guy said. He was tall with a man-bun and a few day-old stubble, much like myself.

Now, I preferred to sit at a table by myself and only made exceptions for a couple people. But the coffee shop was popular and most people had to share tables. I avoided this, and a couple times made some excuse that I was saving a seat for my girlfriend. One time I said I was waiting for my grandmother, and the man next to me traded his seat for the other at my table, which had a shortened leg. No one wanted to sit in a chair that tilted, especially an old woman.

But this morning, I let this guy sit with me. I didn’t want to feel like a dick.

“You’re certainly busy typing away,” he said to me.

I nodded and smiled. “I have a deadline to meet,” I said, which I suppose was true. It depended on the deadline. The emails had to go out by end of day, that was true. But the other deadline I imposed on myself, that one was three days away. This guy I didn’t know didn’t need to know that.

I sent off another couple emails before I was distracted again. I wasn’t really a dick, I thought. I just didn’t like to be disturbed. I was a guy who was easily distracted, and if that meant not wanting strangers sharing a table with me that should have been alright.

But then, I thought, why did I go out to coffee shops in the first place? Didn’t I just invite myself to be interrupted? And the people here are typically friendly, otherwise they wouldn’t spend their days at coffee shops. Was I a goddamn coffee shop tease?

The waiter came over and served this guy an egg sandwich.

“You ever have one from here before?” this guy asked.

“Nope.”

“They’re freaking awesome.”

“Good for you.”

The guy let out a small laugh and returned to reading on his tablet.

Alright, now I really felt like a dick. He was probably regretting that he sat at my table. But it wasn’t my table. I chose to sit here just like the person before me, and the person after. Nothing at this coffee shop was mine.

Another hour or so passed and I finished sending off my emails. I was hopeful that I’d hear from someone this time. An interview was all I wanted.

“I’ll try the egg sandwich the next time I come here,” I said to the guy.

“You won’t regret it!”

That night I spent forty dollars on whiskey, greasy fries and a Lyft ride home.

Train Whistle

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I waited at a bus stop I didn’t usually wait at because I didn’t usually visit that part of town.

That morning I realized while sipping coffee and sitting next to this older guy with a horrible case of the sniffles that Saturday was my most routine, regimented day of the week.

“Now that can’t be!” I said to myself, or so I thought, because sniffle guy looked at me. The waiter then walked over with an egg sandwich I didn’t order.

“Your usual,” he said.

Sniffles guy sneezed, loudly.

I covered my food, not that he was facing me, or even that close to me. I was just paranoid like that.

I uncovered my food and messaged my roommate, telling him to force me out that night. Otherwise I would have stayed at the coffee shop all day, bought a bottle of diet soda at the gas station on my way home, and watched YouTube videos until I passed out.

“Sure thing buddy,” Tyler wrote back. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could now spend the rest of the afternoon at the coffee shop knowing that the second half of my Saturday would be different.

The bar I was meeting Tyler at was a bit out of the way, and there were at least three or four bus route combinations to take. This was before I had a car. I decided on the 24 up Broadway and waited another half hour for the 19. Lots of construction on the east side of town. I waited outside the Barnes & Noble and next to me was a college student with a backpack. We looked at each other and nodded.

I forgot how close I was to the railroad that cut through town. The train whistle sounded and the kid jumped.

“I used to work out here,” I said. “You get used to it.”

“What did you do?” he asked.

“The warehouses across the street. I worked there until recently.”

Bus 19 arrived and we both got on. We sat across from each other.

“I heard there was an accident out there,” he said.

“There was, but I quit beforehand,” I said.

Tyler and I drank at the bar for hours and then I left. Tyler said he’d be back soon but it was only eleven and the bars in our town closed at two.

Back at home I watched YouTube until three in the morning. Smosh parodies and Honest Movie Trailers. I heard Tyler come home and shut his bedroom door. I watched YouTube some more. Anything to get my mind off the accident. I was there when it happened. The station wagon stalled and the gate slammed on its roof. The driver jumped out just in time.

“Goddamn sniffles guy,” I thought and then passed out.

My Day Cup of Joe

Every morning before heading up to my office I stop for a cup of iced coffee at the deli next to our building. The twelve ounce cup costs only two dollars, cheaper than Starbucks or any other chain coffee house in the city. And I drink my coffee slow. Very slow. This single cup will last me the entire day, up until five thirty when I’ll sip down whatever’s left so I can feel nice and jittery on the bus line and ride back home.

Yet as we enter October, the weather will inevitably cool down, and I will make the seasonal switch over to hot coffee. Last Christmas I received a French Press to use in the office, and I liked it. A lot. Yet as part of my new-found desire to not draw attention to myself, I think that I’ll be sticking to two-dollar hot, black coffees this.

And a French Press did draw attention last year, how could it not? Every morning I would walk to the break room, my French press in one hand, my oatmeal mug in the other, and my water bottle tucked in between one of my pits. I mean, it looked like I was going to spend the day in a darkened hole and not come out. To a certain extent, this was true, as my cubicle had no windows.

And that coffee would last me all day too. And it had better flavor. I would like to think that came from this satisfaction that I made a beverage for myself, save any single-cup machine or wasted paper cups. However, I know it was the quality of the beans: I bought mine from the Starbucks on the other side of our building.