I walked toward the door of Joe’s thinking my worries were over. Not that my stomach didn’t twist a bit. That Guy might be there. But that was silly. He’d had one disagreement with the owners, been accused of bothering female customers, it is only in my writer imagination that he’d be in there.
I open the side door and can see Barista M. at the counter and I can see That Guy out of the corner of my eye sitting at my favorite table. My stomach drops. He knows I complained about him.
Barista M. looks at me wide-eyed. I get the counter. That Guy is sitting perhaps six feet behind me. M. leans in and says, “He’s here.”
“I know. Um, I’ll a…” I get my wallet out.
“You want me to make him leave?” she asks.
I shake my head. He isn’t doing anything. He has a right to be there if he isn’t bothering anyone and I don’t want a scene.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
I think about my dogs, taking Sundae back to the shelter, my Porter Dog diagnosed with a heart condition and could go into cardiac failure at any time, my school with my classes at overcapacity, my student crying everyday on the edge of a breakdown, my husband’s food poisoning last week and son’s near concussion, the afternoon of arguing with my son, and I don’t have any time to write because I’m swapped with papers to grade, and I don’t want to face some guy who’s got his ego out of whack.
M offers to let me have a room all to myself. The coffee house has three rooms, the main room, the cellar, and the boardroom. People can reserve the two side rooms for meetings or events. The cellar was closed of because they’d been redoing the floor. “You can have the whole room to yourself. They finished it today but we weren’t going to open it until tomorrow.”
“That’s not necessary. I’ll take my latte.” I hand her my coffee card. She doesn’t take it. “No. I got it. Are you sure you’re okay? You look upset.”
I tap the coffee card on the counter. I tell her about the dogs and my son’s bad mood and I don’t forget That Guy is 6 feet behind me facing the counter. M and I talk. She makes my latte. Then she says, “Wait here.” She zips out from behind the counter and around the coffee house. She finds a table in the boardroom out of sight of my favorite table. She carries my coffee for me as I lug my purse, computer bag, and stack of papers to grade. “I’ll make him leave,” she says.
I shake my head.
ABout 10 minutes later M comes into the room to tell me That Guy has left. “Are you sure?” I ask. “He said bye,” she replies.
I go to my favorite table, a while later two friends show up and join me. We have fun talking while I grade grammar tests.
Later, M tells me the owners had also talked to That Guy about his coming in, sitting at a table for hours, and not buying anything.
That was all last night. This afternoon I stopped by Joe’s again for a quick coffee before picking up my son from school. Different baristas were working. “Hey,” says Barista S., “did you hear we kicked That Guy out?”
Barista K nodded. “L. did it. He was acting weird…”
“Looking at women,” added S. “L. made him leave.” He swings his arms for emphasis.
“Um, when?” I ask.
S. nods. “Yeah.”
“But he was here last night,” I say.
Both S. and K. say, “What?!”
“You mean, ” I say snapping the lid on my coffee, “he got thrown out and he still came back? Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Who the hell does that?”
“We’re talking to D,” says S.
“He knows I complained, you know,” I say. I tell them D. let him know it was me who complained.
“That’s bad,” S. said, shaking his head. “D. doesn’t think sometimes.”
If I were writing a story about a guy like this, I’d know his motivation. I’d know what he wanted and why. If you wrote a story about a guy like this, what would you have his motivation be?