I love coffee shops early in the morning. Everyone has bleary eyes, wiping the sleep from their faces, gathering to the smell of roasting beans like so many un-caffinated zombies. They stare at the floor and frown slightly to themselves as if attempting to remember the dreams their alarm clocks wrenched them out of, coming to life only when the barista sets a mug before them.
The first smile of the day is reserved for that girl with your fix, even if she charges you eight dollars for it.
Observe the man digging quarters out of the apoulstry in his car, desperate for that fifty cents that lay between him and his first cup o’ jo. Notice the quiet man with the little black terrier who brings his own to-go cup. The dog waits patiently outside for the treat he knows will be coming as his master buys a treat for himself in the form of a fresh blueberry scone. He is an old veteran of the a.m. shuffle and strolls with confidence into the den of those brooding over their steam.
I love to watch these people groggy and raw, as they slowly don the skins they will wear for the day. Once they leave here the armor will be fully in place and nobody would ever know the haggard, world weary mein that hides beneath… But I know their secret, because I have seen what lurks under their caffeinated skins.