Every Day Episodes

A Corporate Bull and an Evangelical Walk Into a Coffeeshop

When this happened, I hurried to get it down while it was still fresh in my mind. There is a maximum 24-hour lifespan for any information stored in my brain. Once that time is up, it’s lost forever and my 20GB brain retains its constant (although, admittedly useless) 19.5GB of free space.


Having stimulated the nation’s economy with a $2.50 purchase (you’re welcome, America), I sat down at the one free table in the coffeeshop and set to complete a copywriting task. At the next table, a woman spoke to a teenage girl in what sounded like a monologue disguised as advice, sounding somewhat scripted (or, at least, rehearsed), the moments of inflection delivered with the sincerity and spontaneity of a laugh track. The woman’s voice rose and fell in volume, so that sentences that began with, “Once you invite God in…” and “Here’s what God wants for you…” then fell to a low and inaudible tone, the words lost on bespectacled busybody at the next table.

Vivien is pleasantly surprised to learn that we’ve replaced her usual fundamentalist dogma with Folgers Crystals.

At the table behind them sat a man in the middle of an animated discussion. I’d presumed he was talking to someone sitting across from him, but he was alone and chatting on the phone with someone who, from what I can only assume, was technically deaf and living in the eye of a hurricane. This man’s voice did not rise and fall. Instead, it rose and then more or less just hung there. His heated exchange involved corporate-y words like ‘contract’, ‘breach’ and ‘violation’.

The next 30 seconds or so that followed became one of my favorite moments of the week.

Sitting back-to-back, Ms. Evangelical and Mr. Corporate continued their individual conversations for all of us to hear, yet somehow oblivious to one another:

“…He knows your path, He knows who you are, even if you don’t…”

“…That’s a bunch of sh*t, Carl, and you know it. A steamin’ pile of horse sh*t…”

“…you just need to let Him in. It’s as easy as, oh, friending someone on Facebook or…”

“…don’t care. Tell him anything you want. Tell him to go blow…”

“…remember when I first let Him in. Gosh, it was just, oh wow. It was…”

“…me in the ass, I’ll do the same back. How ’bout that? For Christ’s sake, a contract’s a contract, Carl. This isn’t rocket science, it’s…”

“…the sense of peace and, gosh, sense of love that I felt was, well, it was like I’d found a missing piece, a piece that completed the puzzle that was…”

“…thinks I’m gonna take a wash on thirty grand like some little bitch, then he’s got f*ckin’ Alzheimers. I’ll be damned if…”

“…the same for you. He has so much love for you, so much guidance. Oh, Sara, you just need to take His hand, to open…”

“….wheels turning and people are expecting to get paid. This is business, real f*cking life, that’s how…”

“….tell my own kids. Open up, let Him in and He will come to you. He loves you so much, Sara. He wants…”

“…that motherf*cker in court so f*ckin’ fast, his head’s gonna spin like a f*ckin’ merry-go-….”

"Carl, I've got a whole gallon of curse-laden whoop-ass I'm gonna unload on you, but I'm gonna call you back when I'm at a more inappropriately public location."
“Carl, I’ve got a whole gallon of curse-laden whoop-ass to unload on you, but I’m gonna call you back when I’m at a more public and inappropriate location.”

Unfortunately, at this point, the Corporate Bull took Carl outside and the moment, this couldn’t-have-been-orchestrated-any-better moment, was lost.

Until he’d gotten up, I hadn’t actually seen the Corporate Bull. The 5-foot-ish frame, mussed up hair and Dockers/Toby Keith concert shirt combo were in complete contrast to the Armani-wearing, Don Draper-type I’d imagined.

It wasn’t much longer when the Evangelical woman and girl at the table next to me got up to leave. My view had only been of the younger girl’s back, so I hadn’t seen the woman. Once again, I was wrong in how I’d pictured her. Gone were the unassuming hair bun and matronly floor-length dress. The reality was one of caked on make-up, recently-styled-by-a-professional hair, a bag that wasn’t shy about being Dolce-Gabana, enough jewelry so that she sounded like the distant sleigh bells in a ‘what’s that noise?‘ moment of a Christmas stage production and perfume that had a toxicity radius of around two feet.

“Does everyone have on their old clothes? Alright, ladies, let’s go volunteer at that soup kitchen!”

As she passed, all I could think was, “Someone hasn’t finished reading the part on ‘Sin’ and ‘Vanity’, eh?” Then, I immediately felt guilty for being unjustly snarky. Sure, this woman wasn’t harming anyone, but the O. Henry-appreciating, glass house-living part of me couldn’t help but find some irony.**

Then, it was over. I went back to work and earned a whopping $15.

coffee mike
Actual photo of me at the coffeeshop that day.
(Courtesy of mocking teenagers from nearby table)

**Had I written this as a story, I would’ve had the woman get up to leave, turn to the aggressively-swearing man and say something like, “Are you ready to go, Pastor Dave?” to which he’d pause, place his hand gently over his phone and say, “One more moment, my dear. I must finish this call with Carl from Youth Outreach.” Or something like that.

82 thoughts on “A Corporate Bull and an Evangelical Walk Into a Coffeeshop”

  1. I love “Blaming Lechery On Girls” particularly as one of your characters is a fundamentalist Christian and the other is (and here I’m really just making an assumption based on only a shred of information, but I’m really, really good at that) a swaggering alpha-male (the shortness doesn’t help) full of testosterone-fueled bravado. Anyway, it’s way better than my title, Blinking Loudly Over Granola.

    I really like how you’re able to capture something funny and delightful in your day. Lots of people talk about events they’ve witnessed, but so often those events are boring crap. Events are only significant when we invest them with significance. A good writer like yourself is also a keen observer, and a keen observer knows (whether he knows it or not) how to imbue tiny events in his life with significance.

    And although you’ve twice before fooled me with your deadpan shenanigans, I won’t be made a chump a third time: you can’t expect anyone to believe that there’s a coffee shop in the Bay Area that still sells coffee for $2.50.


    1. While I might occasionally exaggerate for the sake of story, the coffee with a $2.50 price tag is real. Before you ask, no, there is no ‘Mc’ in front of the coffee or small fries included. This is a real coffeeshop, I promise.

      Also, thank you for the feedback, Smak. It really is appreciated.


  2. I wish you would’ve just stood up, walked between the two tables and yelled really loud, “halleluiah, God will save you and fuck that breach of contract cock-donkey in the ass!”
    I love this story, funny because it’s true and true because it’s funny!


    1. No, not a bong. I always bring chemical experiments to coffeeshops. In that particular case, I was trying to turn used coffee grounds into an invigorating mouthwash.

      You haven’t shown yourself on my blog for quite some time. I’m honored. πŸ˜‰


      1. starred* I haven’t even clicked on my reader in weeks it feels. I have been busy doing chemical experiments of my own… or something like that. I was excited to visit! I am not disappointed! πŸ™‚


    1. I don’t know, anymore. I just showed the piece to the barrista who was there that day and he was totally oblivious. He laughed and said, “After they order, I tune most people out.”


  3. I can’t quite get a sense of whether as a result of all this you’ve become a) born again b) a motherfucking goddamn cursing asshole c) a more regular coffee drinker d) all of the above


  4. Your memory of the words of this conversation is astounding. And if that isn’t word-for-word but an approximation: brilliant either way. Do you walk out of movies quoting everything they just said? (For 24 hours before your brain deletes the information is what I mean.)


    1. If it’s significant enough, I’ll remember it. Otherwise, my auditory memory sucks. If I meet three people, I’ve already forgotten the first person’s name by the time the third name is introduced.


  5. I LOVE those moments!! They’re so good! I especially loved your note at the end. It gives me the best of both worlds, knowing that this hilarious exchange was in fact through and it gives me the chance to imagine this as a story with Pastor Dave involved πŸ˜›


  6. Truth really is stranger and funnier than fiction sometimes. How did you manage not to laugh yourself silly listening to this? I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself. Your ending of the story, with the woman asking if Pastor Dave was ready to go, would have been killer. Also, I lol’d at your caption about replacing Vivien’s fundamentalist dogma with Folgers Crystals, as well as the one about the ladies with their “old clothes” going to help out at the soup kitchen.


    1. I loved the Vivien/Folgers Crystals caption, too. I don’t know why, but that one made me giggle.

      I spent most of the conversation looking around at other patrons, trying to gauge their responses, see who was paying attention. At the time, it was less funny and more just odd.

      Also, another point for the fictional Pastor Dave!


      1. I’m certain he didn’t join a church group. You really were eavesdropping in the right place at the right time — under the auspices of earning your fifteen clams. Church Lady still scares me more than the Corporate Bull and if you live in San Francisco (isn’t that where you’re based?), even though the corpoate bull looked like a twerp, Mark Zuckerberg in his tee shirts and hoodie, doesn’t exactly look like a corporate titan, either.


        1. I’m in the Bay Area, so SF is never too far. And it’s true, the casual business attire commonly found in California should have clued me in that he wouldn’t be in a suit, but I also watch too many old movies, so always see the world through an antiquated lens, I suppose. But seriously, Corporate Bull, put on a suit!


  7. As someone who works from home and also needs to get out and experience human interaction, coffee shops are FULL of this kind of crazy stuff. I often post little things I overhear at coffee shops on my Facebook page. They’ve included:

    Awkward first dates
    A guy telling his wife he wanted a divorce
    Two girls talking about their “matching abortions”
    A guy making a drug deal
    A teenager telling his mom to “blow him” after she said he needed to get better grades
    A woman talking to herself for nearly 20 minutes about the fiscal cliff
    A guy telling his uncle about the illuminati, and how it’s the reason he smokes weed


  8. Seriously? Please expand on those. I want to hear the rest of the conversations, especially the Illuminati guy. Ha. “…and, ya know, that’s why I smoke weed, Uncle Frank. It’s all connected, man.”


  9. Wait. Shit stays with you for 24 hours? I’ll have what you’re having!

    I was raised in a Southern Baptist family where “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” (quote from my grandmother) At the same time she preached the gospel to me, the Minister at our church left in a firestorm-filled cloud of humiliation after he had an affair with the church receptionist.

    Great post. =)


    1. Oh, Minister Somename… How could you?

      24 hour retention is a generous number, actually. In reality, a lot of detailed info is gone once I go to sleep. Or get distracted by a puppy.


  10. That makes me miss Murkha.

    Surrounded by lithe Asian girls speaking languages I’m just barely able to order soup in … they are all so cute, and they all want to know cute foreigner guy, and nobody is fat or talking about religion. Dammit. But at least over there the words would be intelligible.


  11. This was great. Thanks for making it to WordPress just before the story slipped away forever. Also, I love when people two inches from each other yell in each other’s faces, IT’S SO GREAT


  12. LOL @ “perfume that had a toxicity radius of around two feet”, almost as poisonous as her dogma! Hope Sara whoever she was, took it with a giant truckload of salt. That’s a funny exchange and you have a good ear for conversation and comedy πŸ™‚


  13. Ciao Mike! I looove listening and observing when I’m strolling outside. I don’t consider it eavesdropping, but researching as a lot of stuff end up as writing material or art material hehe. Besides, if people don’t want others to hear them talk, they should talk at home or something. But man, that was a fun conversation haha! I usually try to visualize them as well, doesn’t always work out though haha. But it’s like creating your own movie in real life and everyone is acting in it…without even knowing about it.

    Like like like! πŸ˜‰


    1. While writing itself is a solitary act, I like being out in public just for the sake of overhearing conversations. I love dialogue, so always like to hear the different rhythms that people speak in.

      Thanks, thanks, thanks. πŸ˜‰


  14. That first reply of mine was a comment about the Monty Python video, not your post. You post, however, is awesome. I love listening to other people’s conversations when I’m out and about. But I have to write them down while they’re occurring. My brain is too old to have gone electronic at all. I think there are still transistor tubes in there, if not vacuum one. Thanks for the great laugh! I just discovered today that WP had somehow put me on never get mail instead of instantly. I think it was that one or two snarky comments I had made about them. They seem to hold a grudge.


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