6:32 am and my brainwaves commence looping: “Coffee, cinnamon roll, 7-Eleven ten minutes ago!” This gets me out of the bed-cave and into The Daily Dress–a spaghetti strap number 3 sizes too big that no one I know, so far, has the guts to tell me to stop wearing every day as soon as the temperature rises above 70 degrees. Hey the name of the heat game is ventilation. It is indeed possible to do that hair combing thing and toothbrush dance in under sixty seconds and achieve a semblance of normalcy that will keep the clerk from hitting the alarm button upon my appearing on the security cameras at the entrance. Neither the cameras or alarm have deterred any of the daylight hour robberies of this particular 7-Eleven. Who repeatedly robs a 7-Eleven? The same folks who hit the little barbershop, the shoe box sized gun shop, and the 24 hour self-serve laundry. Hey, small change adds up. Bonus, all of these businesses are within five minutes walking distance round trip, unless one gets ‘stuck’ in the suicide lane crossing the street, so gas consumption is significantly reduced with a simple one stop park and rob plan.
Now let’s get one thing clear: As a recovering coffee addict my infrequent coffee binges are rare yet intense and generally expire within two weeks. Another thing to be clear about: Not just any coffee qualifies for binge status consumption. Coffee binges involve imbibing great cafe mochas from the only independent coffee-shop to ever drive out an invasion by a Starbucks (Yuck! Yuck!) chain, The Broadway Cafe, and freshly trickled down regular 7-Eleven blend with a minimum of four tiny tubs of half and half topped off with a dash of cinnamon if no roll is available. The only reason to have the roll is for the cinnamon content. This is a matter of scent–nothing else matters except smelling the spice. Considering the depletion of my supply of ticket stubs from the independent art house movie theater, said stubs serve to slice the price of BC mochas in half, and the relative proximity of the aging convenience store to current home base, 7-Eleven is servicing my present early morning coffee binge.
Note: In a pinch, home percolated coffee in which a scoop of vanilla ice cream of a variety which lists no more than five ingredients, all of which we all can pronounce and identify to the tune of cream, milk and sugar et al, topped off with a swirl of honey and a splash of cinnamon will temper the coffee craving. But true bingeing involves hunting and gathering the caffeine carrier.
The current early morning clerk can’t be a day over nineteen with his thick mass of curly black hair barely restrained by a bright red cap. We’ve become acquainted enough over the last week for him to actually reply to my inquiry about the appearance of some sort of filled yeasty pastry where the daily delivered cinnamon rolls are generally located. “Dunno what’s in them. Just showed up today. Only one cinnamon roll arrived and it’s gone.” I glare at the pink sprinkled pastries with their devious mystery filling and the two for one dollar glazed donuts then move on to the coffee bar with my tidy reusable mug in hand. Three steps and I freeze in horror.
Egads! The coffee station has been thoroughly ransacked, raped, pillaged and decimated apparently to the point of total devastation. Empty glass decanters, white paper coffee filters, drip baskets litter the usually gleaming stainless steel counter-space. I consider asking the exceptionally alert red capped clerk if a herd of manic monkeys recently invaded his territory. But he’s already on the scene fully engaging in coffee resupply mode. Instead I start matching up empty decanters with heaters to see where the regular blend stands in the resupply line. Several heating elements are out of sight so I circle around the floor freezer proffering tawdry ice cream confections to the other side of the coffee bar. Lo and behold Red Cap has indeed managed to replenish one solitary glass pot full of my blend of choice. I close in on the only pot of coffee available and commence covering the bottom of my travel mug with half and half–to avoid overfill at the top. Red Cap and I are standing side by side busy with our different engagements in the supply and demand chain. He glances at my assault on the half and half but refrains from commenting. I’m sure he’s seen more interesting coffee concoctions. At the moment the store is empty aside from just he and me and a lot of coffee awaiting brewing.
“How ya doing today?” I inquire as I tear the top off creamer number 3.
“Oh I’m just piling on my facade to get through the day,” he replies as he yanks open a bag of coffee.
“Well that’s true of 99% of the people 99% of the time.” Creamer number 4 joins the other three in the black bottom of my plastic mug. I sense Red Cap looking at me sideways for a moment after he sets a decanter under a brewer and hits the button. Regular blend fills my mug turning the desired shade of tan as it mixes with the half and half. “I gave it up. Too much work.” I gently shake cinnamon on top then snap on the lid.
Red Cap laughs a little as he pours coffee into another filter. I go glare again at the glazed donuts then decide to do the 2 for 1 special. While doing the tissue grab and bag a short short guy enters and stares at his lottery options at the counter. Red Cap is no slouch in the service department and fast walks up to the register. Short guy decides, buys and departs. Red Cap enters my purchase for $1.o5. “Hey, I got these too.” I tap the donuts then resume hunting for my loose change.
“Yep. Got ‘em. Coffee is on the house today.”
I look up surprised as I pay. “Thanks. Have a great day. Be safe.”
A million freckles grin around solid black eyes for a moment without any trace of tough young guy facade. “You too.”