Posts Tagged ‘ stories ’

Ryan

So I spent Memorial Day weekend in the gorge at Sasquatch Music Festival. It was terrific. So much happened.

Let me tell you about Ryan.

After the Mumford and Sons show, my friends and I had agreed to simply wait in the flat area in front of the stage for everyone to clear out so that we could find one another. The tides of the crowd pushed me to the back, where I waited.

As the mob cleared, I scanned the stragglers. I spotted my group, and started weaving my way to them.

On the course I had chosen stood a man. Dressed in jeans and a hoodie, he was standing stock-still in the middle of the floor, obviously stoned.

As I passed, he called, “Excuse me!” Surprised, I turned, “Yeah?”

“High-five?”

“Okay,” I complied.

“Let me see your hand,” he said, catching my right hand and turning it over. “Ooookay,” I considered pulling away.

Holding my hand like a sinner begging a priest for forgiveness, he earnestly said, “My name is Ryan, and I have no idea where I am.”

I made a sympathetic comment as, still clasping my hand, he continued, “I was with friends, but they left me, and I have no idea where to look for them.”

“No idea like, space, or time, or what?” I asked, jokingly. He just stared at me blankly.

“I’m looking for my friends, too,” I continued, realizing he was too spaced out to understand my mocking. “I think I just spotted them, but if you head uphill I’m sure your friends will find you. It’s a high traffic area. I’m going to go now.”

“Okay,” he said, “Let’s hug it out.”

Since I had already hugged some strangers that weekend, and he really looked like he needed it, I complied. “Ohhhhh,” he sighed, “You’re the best hugger ever.”

“Oooookay,” I pulled back quickly. “High-five again?” Ryan asked. I high fived him. “Give me your hand,” he said, and took it. He kissed my hand, said, “Thank you,” and tenderly, so tenderly, kissed my hand a second time.

I pulled my hand from his grasp, shouted good luck, and ran.

I charged into the circle where my friends stood at top speed, simultaneously whimpering and laughing.

There were no more stranger hugs that weekend.

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Things your Barista is Not.

It has come to my attention that the general public is not quite sure what is in my job description as a barista. To help you, I have compiled this list of Things that Your Barista is Not.

Latte art

Your Barista is Not a Psychic.

You, the customer, must tell me, the barista, what you want. Staring at me as you hold your money out is insufficient. So is telling your friend what you want as you walk into my cafe. Throwing your money on the counter and mumbling “the usual” will not get you what you want if we have never seen each other before.  Expecting me to read your mind will simply result in an awkward conversation and annoyance arising between us.

I might joke about how I went to wizarding school to learn latte art, but reading your mind just wasn’t a part of the training. Sorry. (Not really.)

Your Barista is Not Your Therapist.

Honestly, you can talk to me. We can joke around and be friends, and maybe even have real proper conversations every once in a while. But the moment I start to feel like your therapist is the moment I tune you out, and if it’s ongoing I will probably complain about you later to my fellow coffee people (who are also not your therapist.) I understand if you’re unhappy because of a death in the family, a failing marriage, an argument, or whatever, but really, I don’t get paid enough to be your therapist. Let the coffee be your therapy.

Your Coffee Shop is Not a Dating Service.

Any barista who’s been playing the game for a while can sense the stench of desperation from across the cafe. Feeble attempts like five dollar bill hearts as a tip, “We should text sometime,” or using Harry Potter as a point of mutual interest– all true stories– These might be fine strategies in a normal context (not that I recommend giving five dollar bill hearts to anyone ever,) but in the cafe context they’re just pathetic and inappropriate.

When I’m at work, I’m not on the prowl. That’s all. My job might be more fun than yours, but I’m still getting paid minimum wage plus tips to even talk to you right now, and if you’re the kind of person who’s going to hit on your baristas, I’d never talk to you outside of when I’m getting paid. Please keep that in mind.

Myself, when/if I find you, a customer, an interesting enough person that I want to spend time with you in a normal, outside-of-work context, I will let you know.

Your Barista IS a Fellow Human Being.

As a fellow human being, your baristas deserve the simple courtesy of eye contact and a greeting. I don’t demand conversation, friendliness, joking, or whatever. But it is not that difficult for you to be moderately polite, and it improves my day immensely.

And if you tip, well, now we’re friends.

Sugar

There is a deep and somewhat personal indignation that fills my heart when a customer, having ordered espresso, takes that espresso and dumps sugar in it without tasting it first.

I seem to remember reading a silly online etiquette guide sometime that said it was the height of rudeness to salt food before tasting it when dining at a friend’s house. It’s considered an affront to the host/ess– an assumption that the food was improperly seasoned.

Well, I feel similarly insulted when customers assume that the exquisite espresso I serve them is not fit for human consumption before making the drink a matter of sucrose to coffee ratios rather than one of simple, pure, delightful coffee.

I understand that not everyone likes espresso, even when it’s good. It’s powerful stuff. But if you don’t like espresso, why didn’t you order a mocha? Mochas are like espresso with training wheels (in the form of chocolate syrup and milk.)

(Recently, I had a customer take a mocha and add a few tablespoons of sugar. To you, sir, I say this: Have fun with your impending diabetes– or just order a hot chocolate or something and stop trying to drown the coffee.)

It may be unfair to think that customers are assuming my espresso is bad. They might not be trying to insult my skills, but rather just be shocked and intimidated by the size, and correctly assume the potency while underestimating its deliciousness.

I haven’t decided whether or not the offence and sorrow I feel at the untasted sugaring of coffees I serve is rational or fair. If it isn’t, I’m pretty sure I don’t care. Even if it’s a wholly irrational sense of insult, I think it’s a noble emotion which I should embrace, because the coffees I serve are freaking delicious and don’t need sugar.

That is all.

(On another note, I’m finally back! Yay.)

Bob, the continuing story. (aka part 7)

So I know that me just updating you guys on my book is probably getting really boring, but just know that I don’t want to write what happens next.

I’ll give you an excerpt to read because  I forgot that I’m supposed to blog on Wednesdays.

____

Together, Alex, Bob, and Shirley moved one of the heavier desks in front of the door to the stairwell, and another in front of the elevator just for good measure.

As they worked, Bob and Shirley questioned Alex.

“What were you trying to get from here? And why?” Bob asked as they lifted a second desk onto the first.

“Well, after people started acting so strange I figured I should loot what I could, you know?” Alex smirked, “This office wasn’t my first choice, but I thought I could at least trade some computers for food or whatever.”

Shirley snorted, and Alex continued. “Look lady, it was like 3 in the morning. I was stoned out of my mind, and I wasn’t exactly thinking anything beyond ‘oh my god zombies’”

“Alex, these aren’t zombies,” Shirley said, “Zombie implies living dead. These people are neither living nor dead.”

“What are you saying, Shirley?” Bob dropped a pile of vending machine snacks.

“I think they’re possessed by something,” Shirley said quietly.

Bob and Alex looked at each other, then at Shirley.

“Elaborate?” Bob asked, but Shirley shook her head. “It’s just a theory, and not a very good one at that. Let’s get to work.”

Shirley and Bob began dragging yet another desk toward the door to the stairwell. Alex didn’t move.

“Well, skinny one, come and help us,” Shirley snapped, “These doors aren’t going to barricade themselves.”

Alex still stood in one spot, and looked at Shirley curiously.

“You seem like a pretty smart dame,” he said, “So how do you think you’re going to survive in a place like this for more than a few hours? We need to find more survivors.”

“And how do you suggest we do that?” Bob growled, shoving the desk against the door. “Fly outta here?”

“Not exactly,” Alex began pacing, “But it’s going to sound just about as crazy.”

“I’m listening,” Shirley sighed, and Alex smiled.

“We’re going to need more fire extinguishers.”

_____

The crowd downstairs had quieted. Dusk was falling. Occasionally a voice would whine, “I’m so hungry…”

An ominous atmosphere settled on the office building.

The door at the bottom of the stairwell opened slightly, and Alex peered out.

“Ready, you two?”

Whether or not Bob and Shirley nodded remains unknown, but Alex didn’t care.

“Hey, zombie scum! Come and get me!” he shrieked, his voice cracking, and he sprinted headlong from the stairwell across the office, toward the back door.

“I’m so hungry,” one of the strange voices cried, and a figure stumbled after Alex. It was soon joined by more.

Bob and Shirley watched as the first floor emptied, then snuck out into the demolished area.

Each was brandishing a fire extinguisher, and had another crudely strapped to their back with duct tape.

A movement in the corner caught Bob’s attention, and he started, aiming the extinguisher at it.

“I’m so hungry?” a voice whined, and a shape stepped out of the shadows.

Shirley gasped.

It was a woman, dressed in jeans and a camisole—but she didn’t have eyes.

___

Again, to be continued– but I don’t think I shall be posting anymore direct excerpts. I can’t give away plot details, of course– and there’s a doozy of a plot detail in the very next sentence.

Suspense!

Bob pt. 6 and an announcement concerning Bob.

The front door slammed.

“Hello?” the voice called out again.

Shirley grabbed Bob’s hand and dragged him toward the first door that presented itself– a conference room.

They sneaked in and closed the door gently. Bob collapsed on the floor, gasping. He felt around in his pockets for his inhaler as Shirley cautiously peered out the tiny window.

She started and ducked as a shadow went by the window. The voice outside was grumbling to itself. Bob took a deep breath.

“Could’ve sworn I head voices in here that weren’t freaky,” it suddenly shouted.

Bob and Shirley exchanged a significant look, and as the grumbling outside receded Shirley stood. “Damn,” she punched her open palm, “What I wouldn’t give to have a fire extinguisher right now!”

“Stay here,” she ordered, “And follow me when I call you.”

“Shirley–” Bob started, but she was already outside the room, stealthily moving toward the fire extinguisher in the hall.

Bob watched as she silently took it down and stalked toward the break room. She moved out of sight, and Bob clenched his jaw.

Throwing caution to the wind, he ran out of the conference room and through the deserted office. Sounds of conflict reached him, and he burst into the break room to see Shirley standing over a dark, skinny man, with the fire extinguisher over her head.

“Stop her!” the man implored, and Bob caught Shirley’s arm.

“Let me go, Bob! He might be one of Them!”

“I’m not! I swear to God I’m not!” the man crab-crawled back and hit his head on a table.

Shirley backed away, circling around behind the stranger.

“Prove it,” Bob challenged him.

The man rubbed the back of his head. “I’m not one of them,” he said, standing, “Because I was in here stealing stuff. I’ve been watching you two since you got here, Bob.”

Suddenly, Shirley seized his arms from behind. “His eyes, Bob. Check his eyes.”

The stranger didn’t struggle, and Bob peered into his eyes, “They look fine to me, Shirley.”

She released him and stared into his face to verify.

“Welcome to our club, o skinny one,” she shook his hand, “Sorry about clubbing you, but as you’re probably aware that’s kind of my standard MO. Did you say you were stealing from this building?”

The stranger blushed slightly and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah. I suppose you should call the police, but I can’t imagine them being any help.”

Shirley laughed, “So what’s your name?”

“Name’s Alex,” he replied, “Professional zombie slayer.”

“Well, we may need your unique talent sooner rather than later.

The sounds from the first floor were growing louder.

“Well, Alex,” Bob took the new recruit by the shoulder, “Let’s get to work barricading.”

___

TO BE CONTINUED!

Well, it will be continued. But this is the last that Blip in the Cosmos will be seeing of Bob for a while.

See, I decided (prompted by this) to start really working my butt off at writing.

Hence, I’m am going to take Bob, merge him with another story I’ve had rattling around in my head for a couple of years, and participate in NaNoWriMo. (Rebecca, Trishelle, and Kiehl, rejoice!)

Obviously I won’t be participating competitively– I have a couple thousand words to both stories I’m going to merge, and it would be totally lame to start off four thousand words ahead of the curve.

Rather, I’m taking NaNoWriMo as a very personal challenge. Not only shall  I complete a fifty-thousand word novel by the end of November, but I shall also keep up with my twice weekly blogging.

Can I do it?

Watch me.

Bob, pt. 4

___

Bob and Shirley stared at each other for a moment.

“Should we let them in?” Bob said hesitantly.

Shirley laughed, and they both ran for the next office. They pushed another desk in front of the door, then started work on the fire exits and downstairs windows.

As they secured the ground floor, the eerie voice outside was joined by a few more.

“Hello?” they all said, “Can I come in? I’m so hungry…”

“Hello?”

“Hello?”

“Hello?”

“I’m so hungry…”

They all spoke in a slightly whiny monotone, with the same accent that Bob couldn’t place.

“So now what, Boss Lady?” Bob tried to joke, but Shirley’s face was pinched.

She looked around at their handiwork, and nodded, satisfied. “Now,” she said, “We raid every fridge and vending machine and move the provisions upstairs.”

They set to work, running up and down stairs, throwing the snacks and scraps into a pile at the entrance to the second floor.

“Hello?”

“I’m so hungry…”

“Can I come in?”

The voices outside were increasing in number, and insistence.

Bob and Shirley heard the sound of a window break.

They exchanged a look, then ran for the stairs, the sounds of breaking glass and stubborn voices increasing.

“Hello?”

____

TO BE CONTINUED!

Bob, pt. 3

Bob, pt. 1

Bob, pt. 2
____

Shirley looked shocked, as if she had just realized the truth in her words. She gasped, then dropped her head into her hands. Her shoulders began to shake.

Bob stood perplexed.

First, this woman had bludgeoned him with a fire hydrant, then told him humanity was dead, and now she was crying.

Bob could cope with the first two ridiculous realities, but had no idea what to do with a crying female.

Awkwardly, Bob patted Shirley’s shoulder, but she shook him off.

Sniffing, she stood and tied her hair back from her face.

“We’re humanity’s last chance for survival,” she said, squaring her shoulders, “It’s our responsibility to stay alive.” She began dragging the desk toward the front door again.

“Wait,” Bob finally squeaked, “I’m still stuck on the whole ‘everyone is dead’ concept.”

“I’ll explain later,” Shirley snapped, “Just help me barricade the doors already. We probably don’t have much time. They aren’t too clever, but I think they can smell.”

They pushed one desk in front of the doors, and Shirley marched briskly back toward the first office.

Bob followed, tripping on a shoelace. “What’s They?”

Shirley laughed ruefully, “I only wish I knew. As far as I can tell, they kill people without really killing them.” She hefted a second file cabinet on top of the desk, effectively blocking the doors.

“Like zombies?” Bob said skeptically, “Really, Shirley? Are you sure you’re not hungover or I’m dreaming or it’s a holiday and everyone forgot?”

Annoyed, Shirley started to answer, but a sound outside cut her off.

A small voice called in an accent Bob didn’t recognize.

“Hello? Can I come in? I’m so hungry…”

___

TO BE CONTINUED!

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