Opening Day Part 2
Tom smiles when he notices how cracked up we are.
“We’re not high, I swear,” I say between giggles.
“We’re just addicted,” Jill chimes in, “to espresso porn!” And we are off, roaring again like hyenas on valium. Tom sits down and stares at the computer screen.
“Espresso porn?” he says, then begins laughing softly, tucking his chin inwards and hunching his shoulders a little while his rib cage shakes with the rapid movement of air.
We watch the slideshow again, uproariously, and Tom is reeled in. This is the second time all three of us have been together and the espressso porn slideshow provides the perfect bonding opportunity.
Recovering from our laughter again, we get down to business and I start explaining how things work in the back kitchen. Tom and I talk shop while Jill takes care of some business. It turns out he has been practicing espresso drinks at the bar all week: mochas, lattes, cappuccinos, the whole bit. Yes, I think to myself, this is an excellent sign. I vow not to let my ego about last year’s staff get in the way ever again; we’re going to sail into 2006 in full effect.
Over lunch, we discover that all three of us are writers. Jill is a poet and has even published a chapbook through a University Press (“But it’s not as big a deal as it sounds,” she laments,” trust me.”). Tom writes all kinds of poetry and has recently been plugging away on an essay about loneliness. (“But I don’t write essays,” he disclaims). When it is my turn, I say a little about the work I do with artists. I mention the freelancing and the goals for an MFA. Two of the publications I am in happen to be in the coffeehouse library, which feels pretty good.
The phone rings in the back kitchen and it is Noelle calling for me.
“You’re coming tonight, right?” she asks. She goes into detail about the kick off party her house is holding up at the school.
We hang up and I explain the social life of the craft school to Jill and Tom. “Our presence has been requested at the house party tonight,” I announce. They are instantly pleased and elbow each other jokingly, as if to say, We’re on the inside.
Basically, this is how it goes: If there’s a party, we’re invited. And yes, people know who we are because we’re behind the counter and there are only three of us. And no, we won’t know who half of them are for the first three weeks (even though we know what they drink), but by the end of session it’ll be just like family. I love this dynamic because if I want to be social, I can – and when I don’t want to be social, I just drive home to my little cabin in the woods and all is quiet and good.
When my shift is over I feel uplifted by our time together. Tom, it turns out, is much more comfortable in small group settings. There is still a lot of mystery there, but mostly I sense kindness from him. I can’t wait to work a busy lunch shift with him – there’s nothing like a lunch rush to reveal someone’s personality under pressure. As for Jill, all signs say thumbs up. She is a tough cookie, has seen a lot and done a lot, and intends to make a healthier way of life for herself here. She moves at a fast pace and has a hard-core sense of humor and cusses constantly (I take mental note to watch myself with this; I have a way of patterning my speech off the people around me, good or bad).
Fall Concentration, here we come!