Sunday, September 14, 2008

The world outside...

It's raining. Again. The day time was sunny so that is what matters. The air is muggy and sticky, but it's OK. Wearing weather appropriate clothing is a challenge of mine. I have a habit of picking the wrong clothes. Today, for instance, I am wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Since yesterday was chilly, I thought it safe to assume today would be similar. Wrong. I ought to know better than to make assumptions based on unpredictable matters especially weather -given the effect of global warming.

I was quite toasty as I wheeled with the Observer to my old neighbourhood where we had reservations at an amazing Italian restaurant specializing in pizza. As we were making our trek, my nerves kicked in over the suspiciously cloudy skies. We weren't close to home and rain would mean a very long, wet trip back. You know when you feeling spitting outside but no full fledged rain drops? We both kept feeling sky saliva and praying that the rain held out. The restaurant was quiet and our waitress was very sweet. I'm not really a pizza girl, but this place knows how to make a delicious gooey, authentic pie. It's the only time I order pizza dining out. To go to this restaurant and not order pizza would just be wrong. Having never been to this particular Italian pizzeria, the Observer was impressed. The guy knows his food.

Well, after tasting the best pizza in town, not much could dampen our spirits. Unfortunately, rain did dampen our clothes. Thankfully, the heavy rain began falling close to my apartment. Phew! I could feel my hair start to get wet and the Observer's shiny head was glistening with moisture. We stopped at Starbucks for some shelter and a fuel up. Both of us were drippy. I had my usual house coffee. The Observer shook things up by swaying from his stranded mocha light frappuccino and ordered a chocolate iced beverage. I think he liked it.

A change now and then can be good, as I learned last night when I shook up my coffee choice too. I opted for a cappuccino. It was frothy, foamy, and soothing - everything I love about cappuccino. I loved every sip and felt warm flowing through me. As much I love cappuccino, I don't order them very often, because they are a sophisticated version of a beverage that I already drink regularly. If I order cappuccinos too often they may lose their novelty. Coffee is too sacred to alter regularly. If I lose my respect for coffee, the sophisticated or every day kind, I lose much. Just as I was enjoying my last bit of foam, a man who was homeless or obviously struggling walked into Starbucks. The Observer and I were sitting in a corner right near the door, so we were the first customers the pan-handler spotted. He quietly asked the Observer for money to "get home." The Observer nervously said he had no money. The man kept pestering the Observer for a minute as I quietly whispered "No" to the Observer, knowing he is very kind-hearted and this man could probably see the Observer's caring eyes. The Observer refused to give away his money for a second and third time until a Starbucks employee threatened to call the police. For a minute the pan-handler waited to see how serious the barista was about his threat, but when the guy left when he was told a second time that the police would be coming. I know the Observer was a bit embarrassed by the whole scene. No one likes to find themselves right in the middle of a conflict while trying to enjoy an iced coffee on a Saturday evening. Transients and other outcasts in the city do make me sad. Who asks for such a hard life? We all understand what it is to be down on our luck. I feel for many of the people I see downtown every day, but even so, I am glad pan-handlers are discouraged from frequenting Starbucks. I love coffee shops because they are a quiet refuge from the big, busy, scary, exciting world outside. Drinking coffee means having a chance to relax, reflect, appreciate where I am and savour the odd cappuccino. I care about homeless and poor, but please let me enjoy my coffee in peace. When we have a chance to collect ourselves, it helps us be more willing to listen and pay attention to the world outside a coffee shop.


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