Eugene, a tall, thin, pale man, walked into the coffee shop and stepped to the front of the line. Everyone who had been waiting in line – some nine people, total – turned to each other and cursed this line-cutter, but only quietly and to themselves.
After a moment, the person just behind Eugene tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, ” Allan said, “but you just cut in front of – ”
But it was too late. Eugene walked to the next available register, and Allan stood at the front of the line, annoyed. He was called to the second register a few seconds later, but he held on to this annoyance all day.
When Eugene reached the register, he said, “Dark roast, black.”
The barista serving him, a slouching seventeen-year-old with an eyebrow ring, brown skin, and the vacant eyes of a stoner, suddenly straightened. “Excuse me?”
“Dark roast. No cream or sugar.”
“Oh. Coming right up,” the teenager said. He poured the coffee and handed it to the man. “Four eighty-five.”
“Fucking robbery,” Eugene muttered to himself as he counted out the exact change for the coffee. He handed it to the teenager, never once making eye contact, and walked away.
Eugene pulled his phone out of his pocket while he walked over to the milk-and-sugar bar, and ran in to an attractive young woman with friendly eyes and luminescent smile. He looked up at this vision of beauty, who smiled at him and said in a sweet, polite voice, “Sorry about that.”
“Watch where you’re going, you fucking dumbass,” Eugene replied equally cordially. He had lost a quarter of his coffee on her scarf, but decided not to demand she go get it refilled. Instead, he pushed past her, hitting her shoulder with his own, to reach the sugar and milk.
After refilling his cup, Eugene left the coffee shop, allowing someone to hold to the door for him. He walked to work with light feet and a song in his heart.