The Look They Give You

Photo by Kevin N. Murphy (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Kevin N. Murphy (copied from Flickr)

There’s a look they give you that lets you know how welcome you are – as welcome as a rat in their kitchen, or a stain on their favorite shirt. You go in, walk up to the counter, stand behind the line if there is one. If not, your luck is pretty raw already. You stare up at the menu. Hmm, shall I have the venti latte with extra whipped cream or the double-shot mocha with sprinkles, you seem to say.

     All of this is façade, of course. The young girl at the counter might believe you, but the manager is back there, and he knows. He’s thinking the new girl who’s barely old enough to drive may buy what you’re selling, but he knows what you are, and he knows you’re not buying anything.

     He’ll know you’re there just to warm up for a few minutes, shake the snow off your out of fashion, hole-ridden tennis shoes, or maybe just go use his bathroom and make more work for him, Mr. Manager, because that’s what people like you do.

     So you’ll shake your head, check the time on that watch that’s not on your wrist. You pawned it who knows how long ago. You’ll stick your hands back in your pockets and walk out into the cold, which never stares and never accuses.