kindly note the worker not behind counter.

UNTIL RECENTLY, I ALMOST ALWAYS FIXED MY MORNING CAFFEINE DOSE AT HOME on my Tarje coffeemaker, a.k.a. Fisher Price's My First Coffee Machine. A carton (well, cylindrical container) of coffee from Trader Joes is $7, and that normally lasts me a couple of weeks, unless it's Crunch Time, which it's never not. But for the last few months, I have been acquiring my morning mug 'o mud from the new Coffee Bean stall inside the Ralphs in the Culver Center across the street.

Now, why would the man whose last post made it clear that his finances are currently best measured in cents spend almost ten dollars a week on coffee? Three reasons. First, the coffee I make at home tastes like shit. Hot, heavily diluted motor oil comes to mind. Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, I've never (yet) drank hot, heavily diluted motor oil, but it comes to mind nevertheless. Second, since I "work" from home, that morning walk down the block is often the only air I get all day that isn't loaded with marijuana smoke, swine flu germs and the scent of beagle-chihuahua crap. Finally, the Coffee Bean stall in Ralphs is a fucking hoot, from the lawn furniture thoughtfully placed in front to the surly young security guard who eyes me murderously whenever I walk in wearing my blood-red Alife shoes.

Consider this morning's outing, if you will. Waiting for me at the sliding doors was a crusty, middle-aged man of homeless origin, looking and acting distinctly less insane than he was last time I saw him in much the same spot, yammering away to himself through slobbery lips, dressed something like Jesus after a long fall down a filthy hill.

In a stroke of luck, Dolly, the woman who works the Coffee Bean stall, was behind the counter when I walked up. Normally when I show up, several grumpy people are milling around the cashier area straining to look like they're not being helped, at which point one of the Ethiopian or possibly Eritrean deli women will beg Dolly at least several times via supermarket intercom to return to the CB counter. Eventually she will show up, explicitly remind everyone in line of her daily break time, which always changes, and serve us our drinks in cups bearing the faint yet unmistakeable aroma of Marlboro Red.

When I got there today she was chastising a man in fluorescent shorts for spending thirty minutes taking the morning paper apart, reading it front to back and attempting to stealthily place it in a crumpled mass atop the pile of neatly folded newspapers he picked it up from. Then she regaled me with a story about a loud kid with Down Syndrome who was really getting on her nerves in the doctor's office yesterday.

But this morning's highlight was when the aforementioned hobo suddenly left his post by the sliding doors, sailed past me and Dolly at the CB counter and strode purposefully through the swinging kitchen doors behind the deli counter to a chorus of wails from the deli women. Seconds after Dolly tore him a new one via intercom, he walked sheepishly back out, claiming he "didn't see anyone behind the counter to pay". Mild disbelief aside, none of the staff seemed to particularly care. They even let him buy a chicken wing, which he ate on one of the lawn chairs. He left the bones on the table.

I kinda didn't wanna leave.



  2. never a dull moment at the plaza... good to know im not the only one getting murderous stairs from a boyish looking security guard.


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