What’s the hold up? I hate it when they train new baristas during the morning rush. I pulled out my iPhone from my coat’s pocket. The time read 8:36. Damn, I’m going to have to catch a taxi at this rate. I’ll never make into the office by nine. At least it is a straight shot from the Upper West Side to Times Square.
“You dropped your glove,” the lady in line behind me said.
I spun around to acknowledge her and she pointed to the floor. “Oh, thank you,” I replied as I bent down to pick it up and place it back into my pocket with my cell phone.
She pursed her lips and then asked, “Can you believe they are training someone at the register with this line?”
“It’s ridiculous.” I replied. “They should at least open another till.”
The man in front of us turned around to add, “What’s worse is that they have a new trainee in here every other week. I need to start going to the one on 75th.”
Wow, he is kind of hot. The man’s dark hair jetted out from beneath his woolen hat in wispy waves bordering his face like a picture frame. His blue eyes were looking straight at me when the lady behind me inquired, “Is that the one on Amsterdam?”
His eyes glanced over my head to meet hers. After all, she was at least 4 inches taller than me. But then again who wasn’t? Most girls in this city were on average 5’6’’ tall.
“I was thinking of the one at Columbus.” He informed her. Then his eyes were back on me. I could feel my cheeks getting warm under his scrutiny. I needed to say something. Why did I decide to wear my silly earmuffs today? My roommate always thought they made me look cute, but with my height I felt they made me look like an eighth-grader. I already looked young for my age. No one guessed I was thirty. This guy must be at least that and a good head, head and a half taller than me – perfect. Perfect that is if I could think of something witty to say before he turned back around.
“Yes, we should try that one next time,” the lady behind me suggested.
“This is outrageous!” the impatient jogger up ahead stated a bit louder than necessary since she was wearing her earphones. She huffed noisily and abruptly vacated her place in line.
“Well, that’s one way to speed things up,” I said. He chuckled as I added, “One down, two more to go.”
“What time is it?” The lady behind me asked.
I automatically reached into my pocket again to pull out my cell phone only to repeat the blunder of dropping my glove. This time I noticed it myself and bent down to snatch it. Blue eyes had the same thought and we bumped heads in the process.
“Ow,” I said.
“Sorry,” he replied. “Didn’t mean to make your headgear askew, let’s see here.” He placed my glove into my hand as he used both of his to adjust my earmuffs back onto my ears. He gently tucked a strand of my red hair under the white, plastic band and said, “That’s better.” I was still cringing at the term ‘headgear,’but his wide smile lessened my feelings of embarrassment. However, my cheeks felt even warmer.
“The time?” The lady inquired once more.
“Eight forty,” someone else replied.
“Next customer in line, please,” the trainee recited on cue.
“I can help you sir,” the manager next to the trainee said.
Finally they opened the other register. We were both at the front placing our orders simultaneously. Of course he paid and left the counter well before me as the new employee fumbled with marking my cup. She seemed to want to put some other code on it besides a capital ‘L’ for Latte. She kept hesitating and scribbling things out. “Uh, what was your name again?”
“Andie,”I told her.
“Non-fat milk?” she asked.
“No, just regular,” I replied.
“What do you need?” the manager asked the trainee.
“Is regular milk, whole milk?” she asked the manager.
“Yes, just leave that box blank,” the manager instructed her.
The trainee’s eyebrows creased together and then she asked me, “What was the name again?”
The cup slipped from her grip and dropped to the floor as she began writing my name. The process had to therefore start all over. I felt the tension in my body increasing. I couldn’t be certain that my face was maintaining a neutral expression. Shit! The lady that had been behind me in line had already placed her order as well. The hot guy was going to get his drink and leave before I even left this counter.
The trainee punched a few buttons on her till, paused and then punched a few more. “Okay, that will be four thirty.”
I handed her my debit card.
She swiped it and then a frown formed on her face. “Do you need a receipt?”
“No thanks,” I responded.
Her face relaxed as she handed me back my card.
I was still replacing it in my wallet when I heard her say, “Next in line, please.”
I scrambled over to where they dispersed the drinks. Good, he was still waiting for his coffee.
“My daughter’s school is near there. We should definitely try that one tomorrow,” the lady was saying as I approached.
“Venti Cappuccino for Paul,” the barista called out.
He reached for the cup.
“You’re Paul? I’m Gloria,” the woman informed him. She extended her hand and he shook it after sliding the cardboard sleeve onto his cup.
“Good to meet you Gloria,” he said.
“Grande, non-fat, extra shot, white mocha for Gloria,” the barista announced.
Paul made his exit while Gloria posed the question, “Is there three shots in this?” to the barista.
He winked at me as he breezed past.
My disappointment at his departure was nothing compared to Gloria’s judging by the bewildered expression on her face when she finally turned around. Spying me, she pursed her lips and headed to the side bar to add even more calories to her drink.
By the time I got out of there, I knew I would have to splurge on a taxi for the privilege of still being late to work. With my coffee in my left hand, I used my right to hail a cab.
“May I be of assistance…Candy?”
I swung around to see Paul standing there with a smirk on his face and his arm held high gesturing for the next taxi.
“Candy?” I repeated, only this time out loud.
He gestured with his chin towards my coffee cup.
“Oh, no, that’s just my Starbucks’ name. Most people have at least one. I get Mandy, Sandy, even Pammy once. I’m surprised they get your name correct. I’m Andie.” I informed him.
“They didn’t get my name correct. I kept saying ‘tall,’ but she grabbed the venti-sized cup and started writing.”
The laugh that came out of me was so unexpected that it resembled more of a snort.
A taxi pulled over to the curb and the man not named Paul opened the door for me. I shuffled into the cab as he asked,“Should we be Candy and Paul tomorrow, same time, same place?” He asked. “Gloria will be waiting at the one on Columbus and 75th,” he added as if reading my mind.
“Yes, but let’s make it 20 minutes earlier,” I suggested. “I’m running late today.”
“It’s a date, see you tomorrow” he said as he shut the cab’s door.
I was still smiling when the cab driver asked me, “where to?”
After giving him directions to my law firm, I began the struggle of getting my seatbelt adjusted so that it didn’t slip over my neck. Being petite always put me at a disadvantage with seatbelts. I was untangling my scarf when the driver slammed on the brakes. I flung forward and noticed that we barely missed a collision with the asshole driver that ran his red light at the intersection. He crashed into the taxi ahead of us and demolished the right-hand side where the passenger was sitting. Sirens, screams, blood. It was all swirling around in my mind as I rode the elevator to the 45th floor of my office building. What a morning!
The receptionist looked at the clock as I strode in through the double doors. I didn’t have time to explain to her why I was late. It was better to just get to my desk before the attorney I worked for noticed my absence. I walked past the kitchen longing for another cup of coffee. Wait! What happened to my coffee? I must have left it in the cab. Damn, I forgot all about it after the accident.
I rounded the corner to my cubicle only to notice that my friend and co-worker, Tom, from our I.T. department was standing at my desk. “I can’t believe how late I am. Is he in yet? He is going to kill me.” I said by way of greeting.
“No worries, it’s not like he is going to strangle you,” he replied. Then he grabbed my scarf as I was unbuttoning my coat and began tightening it around my neck.
“Hey, what are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m only teasing. You said that I need to lighten up in the mornings,” he responded as he let go of my scarf.
“This isn’t what I meant,” I said as I finished placing my coat on the back of my chair and unwound my scarf. I tossed my earmuffs onto my desk.
He just shrugged and wandered back to his office. Boy, he is in a weird mood. I didn’t even get a chance to tell him about the accident. The assistant that had the desk next to mine was watching YouTube videos.
“Morning Susan, what are you listening to?” I asked her.
“Not sure, just a song that is in one of the Broadway musicals,” she responded.
“Yeah, I heard that one in the cab on my way to work. Sounds tedious,” I commented.
“I guess,” she replied and then clicked on the next video.
I was having trouble logging into my account. Why can’t I remember my password? After five tries, I got locked out. Great! Now I have to see Tom again.
On my way past the kitchen, I drew in a deep breath to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I’ll grab a cup on my way back. I was still daydreaming about coffee when Nancy from our accounting department slammed into me spilling her hot tea all over my pale skirt. It splashed on my legs and scalded me even through my thick tights.
“Ow!” I yelped.
“I just made this,” she said as she returned with a grunt into the kitchen.
“Can you grab me some paper towels?” I asked after her.
She tossed a roll at me. “Thanks,” I said with a lack of enthusiasm. I hurried down the hall past reception to the bathrooms. The receptionist glanced up at the clock on the wall again as I scurried past. I hate Mondays. Everyone is so rude.
The air conditioning in the bathroom was belting out cold air. With my wet skirt, I felt especially chilled. I was having trouble soaking up all of the tea from my skirt. It was obviously stained. I sighed and headed back out to the reception area. My breath caught as I saw Paul walk in through the doors of our firm. Wait, the man not named Paul. He still had his coffee cup. Guess it takes him forever to drink a Venti, no wonder he only orders a Tall.
“Wha…what are you doing here? Are you following me?” I questioned.
“I’m a client of this firm,” he explained.
Just then, Harvey, the attorney I worked for also entered. “Great, Candy, you are here. I need to see you in my office,” he said as he rushed down the hall.
“Candy?” I asked, puzzled.
“May I be of assistance?” Paul inquired as he grabbed me and planted a kiss on my lips. I tried to pull away from him, but he just pushed me up against the wall, pinning me by the chest. In fact, the pressure on my chest was heavy. Then he kissed me again.
“Candy! Candy! Can you hear me?” Harvey shouted from down the hall.
Paul stopped kissing me long enough to ask Harvey, “How do you know her name is Candy?”
“It is written on her Starbucks’ cup,” was Harvey’s response.
Huh? I looked over at the receptionist to see her staring up at the clock again. I tried to read what time it said, but the face of it was too bright, a blinding white. Abruptly the fire alarm in our building went off. The sirens were blasting in my ears. “We are losing her!” the fireman shouted as they burst into our offices.
The white light from the clock flickered and caused me to blink. Two men were kneeling overtop of me. There was glass everywhere and crunched up metal. I heard an ambulance nearing our location and drowning out the cab’s radio that was still blaring show tunes. The man that was not holding my empty coffee cup began pounding on my chest again. He then proceeded to cover his mouth to mine pushing air into my lungs. I felt cold and damp lying there. A breathless man plopped down beside me. He had tears streaming down his face from his blue eyes. He reached toward my face and his hands held my red earmuffs when he pulled back. Wait, weren’t my earmuffs white? The man not named Paul was crying. I stared into those beautiful blue eyes…into the dilated pupils…deeper and deeper until I was consumed by them…infinite darkness. Hey, I wonder what time it is, I’m going to be late!