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.
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-….”
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.
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.
**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.