A damn fine cup of coffee
So the story is, it was a shit morning.
It started early — or rather, late.
I awoke violently from one of those strange half-dreams where you can’t quite believe nothing’s disturbed your sleep yet.
Turns out you can never believe it because something should have.
Apparently I had committed some egregious transgression the night before that caused all three of my ungrateful alarms to go on strike. Unfortunately, a quick look at my phone indicated I was in no position to argue labor laws with siri.
Holy shit, I overslept. More than a little bit.
‘It was that goddamned Z-quil,’ I thought as I rolled out of bed. The late summer heat has been triggering my insomnia. College drinking habits die hard, and I must have skirted the limits with the purple stuff. I stumbled down from my loft with jello limbs as quickly as I could.
On mornings when I’m in a hurry, my shower is always interested in small talk- that kind of stinging, ice cold banter that no one wants to hear first thing in the AM. But my steel lady is also the sensitive type. I pivoted the conversation too hard, too quickly, and got doused with the scalding existentialism you’d expect from a mediocre mid-lifer after one too many bourbons at the local dive.
At least I had my perpetually moist towel to comfort my second-degree burns.
Time to get dressed. Fashion was a luxury I couldn’t afford that morning, though digging through my overworked wardrobe I realized that tomorrow I should probably carve out some time for basic hygiene. I settled for items that passed the smell test.
Definitely no time for my usual breakfast. This would be a problem later, but the soul-crushing noon-time crash that accompanies an empty stomach would be a different Andrew’s problem. This Andrew was gonna make it into work before a laughable hour, and god help those that got in my way.
Keys. Wallet. Backpack. Lock the door.
I was actually feeling pretty good about my turnaround time as I descended three floors to the lobby. ‘You know what, you can make this happen!’ I told myself, making the final stretch to the front door. I twisted the handle to the outside world, ‘After all, things can only get better from he — ’
The exact second the bolt slid begrudgingly from its position in the frame I was struck by everything that’s wrong with summer in big cities. Blazing heat. Sweltering urban humidity. A smell of garbage so aggressively rotten that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, clutched their collective gut, and vomited down my back.
Across the street, I swear to god satan himself was dressed as a construction worker, dragging the butt of a cigarette as he tipped his hard hat and grimaced in my direction over the hazy asphalt.
But I had to push past the devil. It was now clear my mission had taken on holy proportions. I would need to live up to my biblical namesake if I wanted to keep my job. And I really, really did.
My feet soon realized that they would need to take over from my brain, who was obviously still reeling from the post Z-quil inability to accept reality. I let them, focusing less on where I was going than on getting there.
Even at the relatively late stage of the morning the streets were crowded with folks buzzing around angrily in the heat. On most occasions I’m one of the more polite pedestrians you will encounter in New York — I’ve yet to shed the California manners that call me to cede my position on the sidewalk to the elderly, the pregnant, and the downtrodden.
But not on this morning. No time for that. I needed to get mean.
I got moving so fast and furious that strollers carrying newborn twins blew into traffic in my wake, leaving their young yoga-pant wearing mothers to grieve, wondering what in the world could be so important as to warrant such callous disregard for human life.
A goddamn paycheck lady. Move it or lose it. I’m walkin here.
Block after block I was kicking ass and taking names, leaving blood and dust behind me. When I finally blew through the doors to my work I had fire in my eyes and evil in my heart. Dripping in sweat, I bee lined for the elevator as the doorman gave me a concerned nod and probably reached for his walkie-talkie. I could care less. I was in — four floors and a sincere apology away from maintaining my income.
But, in the spirit of the morning, the elevator was out of order. Of course it was. It was always going to be.
No matter. At this point, the trudge up 400 stairs through the furnace of a stairwell my building somehow gets away with felt inevitable. I sucked it up and kicked in the door like a goddamn fire fighter.
60 seconds later, I was smoothing my hair over outside the front door to the office. One last sniff of the pits and I pushed my way in. Here goes nothing.
To my suprise, everything suddenly seemed, cool.
The air conditioning was in full effect. People were hunched over their computers as usual. Light laugher and conversations floated in the air. A telephone rang. No one seemed to notice me, disheveled, and very very late.
I casually strolled to my desk and set my backpack down. My editor was thankfully absent from her perch, allowing for a semi-graceful landing on my part. Actually, only one or two of my team members were in their seats. They lifted their heads briefly in acknowledgement, and I returned the gesture. No big deal.
Slowly, my pulse returned to normal. Things were gonna be alright after all it seemed. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a mug, and poured a cup of fresh, hot coffee. I walked back to my seat and popped open my laptop, exhaling for the first time since I woke up.
A single email appeared in my inbox, and I froze- it was from my editor.
‘Hi team- had a doctor’s appointment so I’ll be in an hour or so. File all stories to John until I’m back.’
I leaned back in my chair, blew the steam from my mug, and took a well-deserved first sip.
Damn fine cup of coffee.