Friday, September 12, 2008

The Last Cup of Coffee on the Last Day at Work

An Imagined Rendezvous
Sunday, June 15, 2008

On my last Friday afternoon at work
I walked alone to the office coffee club
The same walk that I’d made hundreds of times

I was anticipating the whole ritual
Dropping my quarter into the Folgers can that doubled as the coin-box
shaking those NJoy canisters of sugar and creamer
and then pouring
and stirring slowly
for one last time.

And then the first sip, the most pleasurable one.
That night, I planned to retire my long-serving coffee mug.

At the lounge, of all people, I ran into him.
Hey, I heard you were let go, he said
I was probably imagining the glee in his voice
It was actually a mutual letting go, but I nodded yes.

He had never thought too highly of me
Our disrespect was mutual.
Because of that we were overly courteous to each other.
He took over and started to pour the coffee for me
robbing me of my ritual.

So do you have something lined up already? he asked.
I am not looking for a job, I said.
He paused and drank in that information.
But, but what will you do with all the time you will have? he asked,
his tone betraying confused curiosity.
Well, I haven’t read a single Rimbaud or a Baudelaire, I said.
He looked up from pouring the coffee,
question marks in his eyes.

He had always suspected that I was slightly off
and now I was confirming it.
My response had made him visibly uneasy.

Okay, I’ll see you around, he said
though we both knew we wouldn’t.

And with our coffee mugs full,
we both walked away
each smugly sympathetic of the other.

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