Please don't ask it. I know you're going to ask it, but please, don't. "You sure you don't want cream?" At least she didn't just ask if I wanted cream.
The slight alteration puts her as new, but not in-experienced. She did look up when she was writing down something on her pad, that I really hope wasn't the inversion of my very simple order, "coffee, black." I really don't care, but I figure I'll at least answer her, since she is staying for an answer rather than a person who seems like she would be waived off. She's not a speedy person, but she's not dumb.
"No, thank you." I continue to look at my mug, half asleep myself. It's only 6am. I don't do 6am.
She smiles that white Protestant morning smile that's not cheesy, but not quite awake. She wears it better than the cheap looking pink cardigan that all the waitresses wear, regardless of whether you're white, black or latina. I never see Asian waitresses, or men in general out on the floor. The only men are the Hispanics cooking in the back, grunting out their rapid fire Spanish to the whoosh of the hot flames in front of them on the grill. It's only 6am, and they already look like they've sweat off a layer of skin.
I go back to staring listlessly. I turn my attention to the porcelain sugar packet box in front of me. There's a slight lip to it, jutting petitely outward. It makes me think of the cousin to a common soap dish, like one I saw at this old lady's house, I think it was the aunt of a friend. I don't know why I remember that, but I pick up the small sugar china. I guess the only Asians come in pre-fab form here. I look at the underside and see it is indeed from China. Although, I would think so is the ink on the sugar packets. Laced with lead... Or so the TV tells me. They don't have TV in here, thank God. That's why I came here to get my coffee. Nothing but the coffee. Black.
The waitress comes back, parallel to me behind the counter. A safe place, and she's armed with the over-used coffee pot. The lines that used to measure amounts or have directions or whatnot are warn off, but still match the obtuse orange of the plastic spout. She keeps a placid smile on her face, possibly because I'm not rowdy, and I'm not demanding. Or possibly because she thinks I'm pleasant looking. I watch the vapors of the scalding hot coffee rise in front of the reflection of my face in the mirror. A shaven, dark-and-slightly-long haired, white man stares back at me, not unpleasant.
The fact I was shaven was thanks to their bathroom, here at the diner. I came from a night out with women who thought I was exceptionally pleasant, and I reciprocated the kindness. I'm still wearing my nice button-up, going-out shirt that doesn't fit the work-place I'll be heading to after this. I have a change of shirt in the trunk of the rental car. I'm visiting the Loop office, but I've been here before. To this diner even. This is the first time I've seen this waitress. And it will probably be the last.
She comes back after taking the order of another man down the counter from me. "You know what you want? Or do you need another minute to look at the menu?" She asks me, a little more lively now. The man must have cajoled her a little. I just look up, too tired to give her the same.
The menu she's referring to contains all the breakfast items known to a good middle American diner. Yes, Chicago, but still not quite in the city, a small place outside of O'Hare. I'm originally from the Suburbs, but I live out East now. I never knew Chicago this well until I left it. I don't really want breakfast, but I say, "Yeah, just give me a minute. I'll take some more coffee though." I try for a half smile in my still half-asleep mode. She doesn't even double-take the speed at which I gulped down the first cup before she pours me a second.
"Sure thing. Just let me know when you're ready." She says, and gives me a vamped up version of her first pleasant smile. I think that was supposed to be a flirt. I take a sip to let it register. Yeah, this will be my last time here. Not because of her.
It's Sam. The buddy of mine that used to be a part of the company out East, but then moved for the company's section out here, but he's leaving them too. This time it's for academia. He finally found a teaching job. Cheap, but supposedly what he wants to do. He'd always be talking about how much he loved politics and teaching civics lessons to kids, college aged. He didn't mind the Idol-worshipers he had in class, he said they're the reason he's going back. The righteous fuck. I don't get it, they're less motivated than the interns we get for our company. At least the company puts some fear into these kids to get them out of their consumer-addicted mentality to realizing they aren't going to make shit until they're at least my age with the minimal ambitions they have. They need to get some ambition, you can't just buy it with the money you get from a part-time job. It's the hell that the part-time job puts you through to earn it. I look down into my empty mug.
Her name's Darlene, the waitress behind the counter. Thank God there's a counter between us, something to lean on while I try to get a grip on being back in town.
I had a wish to make my life more than it was. Has been. yeah, that's me, not a has been, but I have been. What does that even mean? In a time frame. That's it, life is supposed to pass you by on this linear, continual moment. Perpetual. You try and out run it, but it catches up to you, like Alice in Wonderland, the second time round. You run so fast and never get anywhere, but then when you stand still, you're continually moving. It's an entire mode of being, this pace. It's not time, it's a speed. The acceleration of this time isn't really time, it's a measurement of being. We think that time is all knowing, that it watches us, it designates our lives, like Mussolini, making the trains run on time. But instead we are run by our own desires, our own thoughts, our own whims. I take a sip of coffee.
What if we don't have to play by time? What if instead play by our desires, make time irrelevant, and instead just take the opportunities whenever they come - I know, people talking about timing in that. Kairos, in the Greeks. It was the moment that all things came together a certain way, balanced. But it wasn't just time, it was momentum, it was situational, it was prioritized by what you were looking for. The topic, the common ground. A plateau even. This place where you deal your deed, you do your thing, you have your moment of Zen - you get it all - all the information that was ever relevant came to you on this table-top, this chess board, this space of being -
I'm left with the momentary image of the importance of that moment of epiphany over my egg white omlette, the dawn that had been so brilliant out the window just a moment ago fading into a gray morning. It's 7:30. Time to work.