The Creative Cafe
Published in

The Creative Cafe

Zeitgeist Poetry

He Knows the Risk

Getting coffee in COVID-19 times

Man wearing black face mask covering nose and mouth behind see-through plastic foil, pressing face against it, looking out
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

He stands in front of the coffee shop
The door is closed
He breathes the fresh outside air
He puts on his face mask
He notices he does not have the paper napkin
He typically carries to handle doors
He reaches out to open the door
His left hand touches its handle
He knows the risk

He pulls the door open
His feet carry him inside the coffee shop
He notices the warm inside air on his face’s skin
He inhales the coffee aroma floating in the air
He knows the risk

He scans the scene inside the coffee shop
Two other customers are present
One is waiting for his order
The other is waiting to place her order
Baristas shuffle behind the counter
He gets in line
He keeps his distance
He knows the risk

He waits in line for his order to be taken
He stands in a sparsely lit space
He looks at the paintings on the wall
He sees another customer enter the coffee shop
He knows the risk

He steps up to the cashier
He places his order
His voice is muffled behind the face mask
The cashier repositions her face mask
As she punches his order into the system
He knows the risk

He steps up to the brewing stage
He waits for his order
The barista places the ready-made coffee
With her glove-covered hand on the counter
She smiles at him with her mask-covered face
He smiles back behind his face mask
He knows the risk

He picks up the coffee with his right hand
He reaches out to pick up a plastic lid with his left hand
But realizes that he cannot use it
It is his contaminated hand
He knows the risk

He turns around
His right hand carries his coffee
He navigates towards the door
His left hand extended to open it
As another customer opens it
He steps back to give the right of way
He knows the risk

They negotiate
He goes first
While the other holds the door
A friendly nod to thank
Passing quickly
To minimize lingering in close proximity
He knows the risk

He is outside the coffee shop
He looks into the bright sunlight
He breathes the clean crisp air
He looks at the coffee in his right hand
He savors the smoky steam ascending from it
He looks at his left hand
He knows the risk

He sits to drink his coffee
With his clean right hand
He pushes his face mask underneath his chin
He sips his coffee
Mindful not to touch his face
With his left hand
He knows the risk

The cup is empty
He disposes of the paper cup
In a close by trash can
He tosses it in
To avoid touching its rim
He knows the risk

He uses his right hand to reach inside his pocket
And takes out a little snap-lid bottle of hand sanitizer
He snaps it open with the right thumb
And pours a droplet into his left hand
He closes it with his right thumb
Then stores it away in his pocket
Before rubbing the solution over the surface of his hands
He knows the risk

With both hands
He grasps the elastic loops
That go over his ears
And loosens the mask from underneath his chin
To pull it back up
Over nose and mouth
He knows the risk

He had accepted the risk

Sylvia Kreibig, Ph.D., is emotion and sleep researcher at the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, and has extensive training in psychophysiology — the mind–body connection. The overarching aim of her research is to better understand how emotions impact mental and physical health and how emotion regulation can be used toward health improvement. View my LinkedIn profile; connect via Twitter.




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Sylvia Kreibig, Ph.D.

Sylvia Kreibig, Ph.D.

Emotion & Sleep Researcher at Stanford University • Psychophysiologist • Functional Medicine Enthusiast • Truth Seeker

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