By Jason Gibbs
He remembered entering the coffee shop, but nothing before. He’d been stressed, he knew he had to do a presentation, to Peterson, and he was worried she was going to be angry. And he’d decided that a coffee, a small latte, would do the job.
The queue seemed interminable, but eventually he got to the front, and he looked at the list. The list of coffees. Of options. Of hopes. And he was stuck.
He was going to ask for a small latte, but instead the word ‘Cortado’ snagged his eye. Short. Yes, that sounded good. He asked what it was. The barista said something about less milk, and he’d said yes. He’d have one.
But he then asked about the difference with a flat white. And this was weird, because there was a queue behind him, but he didn’t care. All his English inhibitions had drained out of him.
Then his memory blanked.
And now he was behind the coffee counter. Listening to people. But really listening.
“A latte please mate”
Which means, “Give me some hope please mate, it’s a bad day already, the missus is angry, and my boss…”
“A hot cappuccino and please not too much froth, I do ask every time…”
Which means, “I can barely control my life, the bills, the demands…”
“Ah, I don’t know, just a coffee with some milk, is that the cheapest?”
Which means, “He was gone. Just gone this morning, and, I don’t know what to do, where I’m going to get the money, but, I’m free, I feel free…”
Every day he was there, listening, and doling out some small consolations. The occasional free coffee, a smile, a nod. Little gestures which he felt helped these lost people who came to him. As lost as he once was.