blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The box and its contents were dangerous

Her arm reaches out from between leopard print sheets and weightily lands on the SNOOZ bar atop the glowing red numbers 4:32. A wet nose nudges her outstretched arm as the flywheel composed of her day’s activities begins to turn, starting with I can’t forget my apron. She didn’t want her new boss to know this early on that she could be quite forgetful. Her fingers easily find the twist knob underneath the hand made paper lamp shade. Hand now resting on the dog’s strategically positioned rump, delivering the obligatory morning scratch, she wonders how long it will take for her eyes to get used to opening to light at 4:32.

There's no light from the window, only the glow of the lamp, coupled with the uncharacteristic silence of the city, it gives the impression that she’s the only human on earth at that time. Few are brave enough to paint their bedroom Rejuvenate Orange with Buttercup trim and Drum Beat Red bookshelves, nor do many people tend to face the world at this hour. Through her light-bracing squint, the colors remind her that the sun will rise. Besides, her landlord could care less what colors the walls are, just as long as they don’t have holes punched in them when she leaves, he had said.

Her gradually opening gaze finds her black apron with the Espresso Detour logo and “jackie” and “artista barista” embroidered in yellow thread in a handwritten-looking font laid against the back of the unfortunately 80’s-green leather chair. She had decided to ignore the green chair and the dirty beige carpet when she chose her colors; there wasn’t any chance of making them work, and besides, she could always get a slipcover for the chair.

Jackie’s life was pockmarked with projects in progress, like the cardboard box sitting on the floor next to the chair. It was a box that had once contained bottles of flavored syrup that had been delivered to the espresso bar. It had cut outs for fold-in cardboard handles on the sides, which made it convenient for carrying with one hand yesterday afternoon as she walked home from work and collected some contorted rusty pieces of metal, acorns, a crow feather and a pigeon feather, three large shards of clear glass and other sidewalk detritus with the other hand.

At the bottom of the box was a rolled up burlap coffee sack that had arrived at the espresso bar with the shipment from the shop’s coffee vendor. She had hoped she wouldn't be pushing it when she asked Dominic, the shop's owner, if he would mind sparing the extra bag, it seemed their coffee vendor had sent more than he needed for his coffee display. And the cardboard box was just sitting in the pile of boxes headed for the dumpster; no harm in grabbing that. The burlap was going to form the background for a found object collage.

The box and its contents were dangerous; if this project was left unfinished, it meant that she would intentionally have invited a box of trash into her apartment. The motley collection was far from the inspired vision she hatched on her way home after her first day of work and more caffeine than usual. She conceived of a piece that communicated the unerring pattern of connections that elusively underlie the random events and random objects of life. The thought had started earlier in the day when she realized that from her vantage point behind the espresso bar, as the customers came in, they formed a mosaic-like performance art piece. A stream of unique individuals threaded together by a desire for caffeination and kindness.


Blogger cipriano said...

Terrific story / vignette.
I loved it.

2:49 AM, December 11, 2005  

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