I wrote this in Penn Station at Starbucks while waiting for my girlfriend to get out of school. I had to be in the city and thought it would be cool to continue writing my thesis at the New York Public Library, and it was awesome, but the library closed early and I had a lot of time to kill so I gave myself a little assignment to just observe one of the more bizarre places in the city after rush hour. Hopefully that comes out in the writing.
Observations in Starbucks
I’m sitting in the Starbucks at Penn Station on a Monday night. It’s been raining all day, but it’s been very productive. I visited my old job down in Tribeca to see if I could get any leads on the never-ending publishing job search. In an hour, my girlfriend will show up and we’ll get to take the train home together. I can’t wait to surprise her with cookies I bought from Jacques Torres. I’m surprised she hasn’t asked yet. Then again, it’s her first day of school so her mind is somewhere else right now.
The music changes from pop to jazz to piano while the male baristas take orders and yell to each other. They break out in laughter while watching faceless commuters pour in and out. Homeless men harass everyone on line for change. How must it feel asking someone for money while they buy coffee and be told over and over again that no one has change? I didn’t give him any. But in fairness, he didn’t come up to me either. Then again, I wouldn’t even if he did ask. But I’d feel so self-conscious if anyone overheard the horrible excuse that would inevitably spill from my lips.
As I look up from my notebook, a woman asks me for a quarter. “I’m sorry; I have no change.” I forgot for a second that this is New York. There are people like her everywhere. And while I do occasionally give people change, there are awkward instances where I’m unable to — or I genuinely forget that I do actually have change in my pocket. Karma gave me a chance to redeem myself and I fucked that up royally. I recently acquired a well-paying job, but I have to be careful with my money too. People, I think (hope) understand that.
There are so many people in Starbucks, in Penn Station, in New York City. I wonder how many people live here. Everyone comes from somewhere else. Where’s their home? On the wall in front of me hangs a giant bronze map of the world with certain countries painted in black. I’m sure I could find where each person in here is from and place them on the map. I hope one day I could travel the world.
The caramel iced coffee is starting to kick in, even though my mind is still tired. I can feel it going through my veins. The words on the page are coming out clearer and more uniform. in a little while, I’ll fee like my old self and be awake for the train ride home. I haven’t told her how far we have to walk back to my car. I know she’ll hate me. If you read this at some point, I’m sorry. Maybe I can find a place for her to wait for me while I run and get it myself. But what’s worse: leaving her alone at night or making her walk with me so late, or walk home from Massapequa? Which is further? Please don’t rain.
The waves of people coming to Starbucks never stops growing. So many people need coffee as bad as I do. I thought I had a problem, but there are people getting the largest size, perhaps with shots of espresso and tons of sugar. Mine is definitely helping me still write. I’m surprised at myself, although, now I’m at that point where there’s nothing left to do but hopelessly connect myself to the writing process to connect everything in my notes together and make this deeper on a hipster-level. I can hear my old professors in workshop telling me to avoid this like the plague. Well, too late now.