Have A Nice Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched.

Submitted: July 03, 2016

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Submitted: July 03, 2016

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 I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched. I sat down, my phone sticking out of my sweatshirt pocket and watched him, squinting my eyes.
Perhaps, I thought, he was just trying to get himself into a better mood. I’ve probably read the same exact article as him, how even fake smiling can brighten your mood. But his smile, it was unusual, it was genuine. He greeted the busy men in suits, smiled at the children tugged by rushed parents and even caught me staring. And he waved. I glanced down at my phone, opened it and stared at the screen, my mind attentive on this man across the room.
Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a day where the shop attempted to have people talk to each other, a rule just for the day. A rule indicating no electronics, a rule that would cause many to leave almost immediately after the pickup of their coffee. I quickly shut off my phone as I thought an employee was coming to tell me the news. She wore a neutral look on her face, an untidy hairstyle followed her. I slipped my device into my pocket and awaited her arrival. Yet, she walked past me, not evening looking up from her fixed point. My eyes followed her path and saw a wallet. A stealing, I thought. I was sure she was going to pick it up, bring it behind the counter and slip a dollar or two into her pocket. Then, I saw her do something unheard of. She walked out the door, her eyes frantically searching for someone.
The man she was searching for was outside, corresponding beside the window the peculiar man was sitting at. The smiling man was still just looking around, watching the people order and smiling at the gazes. I looked behind him, in time to see the employee hand the wallet to a man in a sharp black ensemble, wallet remained unopened and unsearched for money. He wore a thin tie that looked expensive nonetheless and had a grey hair in a buzz cut fashion. Eyes that were cold with corporate negotiation lighted up as he shook her hand, her face now beaming and explaining how she found it on the ground.
This was not the environment of harsh New York City I was told I was to adjust to. It was before though, it was just as quiet and fast paced in this coffee shop on previous days as it had been on the bus and on the subway, or any public room filled with strangers. Silent, except for a couple of coughs, the ruffling of shopping bags. The eyes of strangers never meet each other’s, for if they did, they would immediately revert back to the wall or floor. And with that comparison, this room seemed very alive.
The laptop screens were pushed halfway down, as college students recognized a familiar logo on a random person’s shirt as they peaked up from their computer tops, and called to them about it. People turned, and talked. The coffees sat on wooden tables with smoke lingering from the tops and phones laid alone, with no fingers gripping the sides. And even the people with headphones lodged into their ears, waiting in line to receive their coffee and return to the normal honking of cars and rushing of foreign conversations speed by on the crowded streets seem to notice the difference.
Strange behavior, I thought to myself, standing up and glancing at the concentrated conversations people who had never meet each other before, were having. I remained the only one alone in this vibrant coffee house, the sun seemed to filter through the windows in an odd way as well. Instead of blinding the poor victims that had been sitting on the wrong sides of the room, it gushed into the room in light streams, casting spots of light on the tiled floor. The people entering the blooming room smiled as they ordered their coffee, and the ones waiting in line politely greeted the others in line. I stood, bewildered and my mind fell back to the smiling man, who was once sitting next to the window and smiling at those who did not seem to smile back. I looked and he was gone. I walked to his seat, a note laid, neatly folded.
I looked around, still surprised to see the lack of stern productiveness in the room and instead being filled with friendly chatter. I picked it up, not really knowing who the note was for. Neatly written, the note said simply in blue ink: Have a nice day! I was thoroughly bewildered at this point, and re read the four words. Have a nice day, simply as written. I shoved the note into my pocket, shook my head and left through the doors, leaving without picking up my already paid for order. The cashier can have it, she seems to work hard, I thought to myself then stopped. I stood in front of the building with a befuddled look and questioned my own words.
Never, I would have never left my coffee unfinished, it’d be a waste of money. Simple rule, still I refused to walk back into that atypical room, with all those conversing fools. I walked to the curb, and waited to call a taxi. It certainly was much colder out here, much more inhuman than it had been in that Starbucks. The sun shone in eyes and people clutched their processions quietly. And this felt normal.  Why though, I asked myself, suddenly interested in a subject I never even noticed. With people all around us, why not speak to them? Because it’s weird, I answered myself. I did not seem happy with this answer.
What is weird about talking to fellow humans, to mere strangers. They are strangers, I forced my thought into a mind that seemed to be changing, we do not know them. Ah, my mind countered, we do not know them yet. I thought hard about this, hard enough that I forgot to raise my hand up to catch the taxi speeding towards the curb. As it zoomed by with its client, I turned to watch it. The corners of my eye caught a hint of a man, sitting not quite against the coffee shop but near it. A hat that should belong on top of his head rested on the ground. A cardboard sign next to it said “Change?” I stared in the least obvious way possible.
Dozens of people like this pass my day, yet nothing, no sight had fixed itself like this before. A thought creeped into my mind, a merciful and unusual thought. But before I could scold myself nor act upon the act, the employee who handed the unopened wallet to the man before came out of the street. I locked eyes with her. She put a pleasant smile on her face and calmly strode over to the curb. “Sir” she began, courteously, “You forgot your coffee” and held it out for me. I smiled weakly, a smile that seemed troublingly honest, hopelessly genuine.
“Thank you” I acknowledged, and watched as she smiled, nodded a short bow of her head and paced back into the uncharacteristically welcoming coffee shop. I stood unsure what to make of this coffee. The steam rose from the top as I thought about the man without the hat on his head. “Don’t” I muttered as a war of morals fought it’s battle inside of me. Finally, a clear command broke from the raging bout.
I walked forward, and stood before the ragged, tired looking man. He seemed to be on the verge of sleep when I cleared my shaky voice and squeaked out “Would you like a coffee?” He looked up, question on his face. “I’m not in the mood today” I answered, reaching into my pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and held it out with the cup filled with coffee. “Here” I squatted and placed the cup on top of the bill, feeling very unlike myself. I saw a smile flicker onto the man’s wrinkled face as he sat up much straighter. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, very much” he croaked out with a hoarse voice. And with a strong grin, I stood up and walked away from the man, hailed a taxi and began to dawn on my recent act. I leaned against the seat of the quite cab and sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
“Hard day” the cab driver asked, looking up from the window. Instead of grumpily muttering a single word answer then excusing myself in my mind for my rudeness due to just not being a morning person, I smiled one more time. Possibly more than I had done in days.
“Something like that” I responded, and folded my hands on my lap, looking out at the jam-packed lanes of the city. “Busy day” I murmured to myself and fell back into thinking about my different morning.
I arrived at work on time, even ten minutes early. Very unusual, I thought as I pushed the button on the elevator. A cry rang out from outside and like it was instinct, my hand shot out and kept the door open. I stood appalled at myself as a clicking of heels drummed on the floor. “Thanks” a tall woman with orange hair walked into the elevator. I began to feel very fidgety and instead of gazing at her swept hair, thought about my kind deed of keeping the door open. I hated the mere thought of staying in a confined space with someone, but something was off with me today.
The lady looked at me and asked if I worked at my company. “Yes” I answered hurriedly, rushing to say the words. “Been there for a few years” I continued, then stopped myself from ongoing further.
“Perfect” she exclaimed and stepped forward, turning to face me. She held out one delicate hand and I surprisingly shook it without question. “It’s my first day” she explained I nodded, polity admiring her necklace and earrings. “Maybe” she said shyly, and I looked up at her face, “You could show me around” she rushed and astonishingly turned a tinge of pink. I never thought I would find a woman who liked other women in this sort of scenario, for it was too unexpected, too many things could go wrong. It was too spontaneous and could end as a simple one-night stand, with me leaving her room with eyes from strangers.
“Of-of course” I stammered, wholeheartedly tongue tied and baffled. For one, women like her never usually wished of my company, many of the other woman at my job referred to me as too bossy and strict. And a second thought creeped its way into my head, realizing now that I hated new employees. It appeared like they were always clueless and clumsy, but the softness of her handshake shook me up. I almost didn’t leave the elevator. As soon as I did, sitting down at my desk, I wished I hadn’t. A worrisome pile of papers, perhaps a half a foot high, waited for me and I looked around. My intern looked worried as she told me the issue.
“The printer- jammed up- bunch of papers all few out- all of them have just a few words” and finished with “Wasn’t my fault- I swear. Please don’t fire me” she plead. I shook my head at the book of papers with snippets of words on each. I looked at her anxious face and back again at the papers. Analyzing the situation, I felt a compulsive answer surface and before I could discontinue the thought, it spilled from my mouth in gentle demand.
“Lillian” I began softly and she flinched. “Please use the machine in the copy room to cut off the tops of the papers. Fill them with image of this note, please.” I rummaged into my pockets and pulled the note from earlier today, handing it to her with a blank face, I watched her worried face ease. Then jump into a state of amazement. Maybe it had been my fairly quite tone or the polite usage of my order, or even the oddness of the task. I too stood on the verge of tears, asking myself inside, why?
I turned and sat at my desk, pulling out the laptop I hadn’t touched at the shop and began working absentminded, on company paperwork. At lunch time, the strangely graceful newbie sat with me. I didn’t snap once, and people smiled at me today. It was alarming, I wondered if I had lost it. If years of training myself to be a ruthless leader and no-nonsense worker had failed. If I had simply gone soft. I almost left without a second glance at the copies of the note. Have a nice day! they all demanded and I felt a rush of hatred. This and that ludicrous Starbucks had stifled my ambitious self. I threw half of the wasted paper and ink into the trash.
Another moral brawl stirred in my stomach as I almost trashed the other pile. I sighed, complying to this new side of me and lifted the stack into my case. They were about the size of business cards and perfectionist Lilly had cut them meticulously to size. A task that must’ve taken her all day and basically gave her the day to cut paper, the efficient machine in me barked. But oh, what a work ethic that Lilly has, another voice answered back.
The ride home was awfully quiet and uneventful, the trip to my apartment silent despite the day I had. I was almost disappointed. Almost, because that time I decided to stop the tom-foolery and work on these papers. Already, however, I felt dreary and tired, the thought to grind through paper after boring paper left me in dread. I opened up the fridge and took out yesterday’s leftovers. Sitting in front of my couch, I paid little attention to my food and even less to the television.
Have a nice day. These unspoken words left a burning scar of pure discombobulation, turning my perfectly okay life into a big question mark of moral argument. I felt no regret, yet anger for having no regret. I can’t act like that again, I commanded myself yet without the perfect assurance of confidence I had before. To be honest, I felt at the mercy of the situation.
I crawled into bed feeling psychopathic, a flurry of thoughts whirling in my head between emotionless and compassionate, and still felt like losing either way. “Maybe” I muttered sleepily, a yawn creeping up. “I’ll figure it out as I sleep” I announced to no one but myself and fell into a deep slumber that would awoke violently by myself at 2 am. A clear stream of light flew through the dust, a light not meant to shine in the eyes of customers but to stream through windows, aimed at the ground. This light was not present in my room. I awoke fast, the sleep slowing me down however the curse of drowsiness was wearing thin. A curious thought broke into my mind as I slept and I myself did not seem to know the answer nor the act I was to follow.
I grabbed my case, flung it open and reached for the cards, removed the rubber band holding them together and threw on my coat. Rushing down the stairs, I purposefully dropped the card randomly as I flew across the building feeling weightless. The lobby manager was fast asleep as I tiptoed instead of thumping past him and delicately dropped a card on his desk, careful not to wake him. The doors of my building close as I march past them, relieved at the almost empty streets. Glancing behind me as I did so, I dropped dozens of cards. The pile stayed thick as a part of me thought, curiosity killed the cat.
I walked faster, dropping the cards and hoping not to be arrested for littering. I saw close to no one, nonetheless still speed down the streets, taking every route I knew and then retracing. A frenzy opened in my mind as I released card after card, knowing exactly the words lettered on them. I hoped that the man from before saw them as well. Another thought retaliated the one I had hours later, as I arrived minutes before the first employee of the Starbucks came. I am sure that my eyes must have looked droopy, my smile looking exhausted. Yet, the employee smiled the same and let me in.
I ordered two coffees and waited for the room to fill and the sun to begin to shine. The mood today was not like yesterday’s yet I thought a thought. Curiosity killed the cat, I recalled from before, but satisfaction brought it back. Perhaps it was kindness instead. I handed my money to the cashier, retrieved my two drinks, and sat by the window. I smiled at everyone who came into the shop as I realized I had forgotten my phone and laptop. I looked into my bag and felt a wave of familiarity as I pulled out a book with a cover.
I pulled the overdramatic cover off, seeing no interest in the staged black and white image, but I still didn’t touch the book.  A woman was staring at me intently, as I greeted all those who entered through the doors. I waved when I caught her eye, and as she looked down, I placed the final note on the top of the table. When I looked up, her eyes were following a boy who picked up an elderly woman’s jacket as it fell. The lights streamed through the windows as lovely conversations sparked around the coffee shop. I stood up to leave as the laptop screens were pushed down to better continue the conversations people began with strangers.
I had drunk all of my coffee, watched the crinkles in eyes as strangers politely smiled at one another and walked outside. The chill of the street left me much cooler than it had before and I thought that this was because I had felt warm finally, after a very long time experiencing silence and coldness. I handed the man outside my other coffee, along with another twenty -dollar bill, and waited for a cab. I glanced behind me after I hailed a taxi. Finally, as if this was the moment I had been waiting for, watched as the woman who was staring at me curiously reads the note. I knew what it read, word for word. Have a nice day.I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched. I sat down, my phone sticking out of my sweatshirt pocket and watched him, squinting my eyes.
Perhaps, I thought, he was just trying to get himself into a better mood. I’ve probably read the same exact article as him, how even fake smiling can brighten your mood. But his smile, it was unusual, it was genuine. He greeted the busy men in suits, smiled at the children tugged by rushed parents and even caught me staring. And he waved. I glanced down at my phone, opened it and stared at the screen, my mind attentive on this man across the room.
Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a day where the shop attempted to have people talk to each other, a rule just for the day. A rule indicating no electronics, a rule that would cause many to leave almost immediately after the pickup of their coffee. I quickly shut off my phone as I thought an employee was coming to tell me the news. She wore a neutral look on her face, an untidy hairstyle followed her. I slipped my device into my pocket and awaited her arrival. Yet, she walked past me, not evening looking up from her fixed point. My eyes followed her path and saw a wallet. A stealing, I thought. I was sure she was going to pick it up, bring it behind the counter and slip a dollar or two into her pocket. Then, I saw her do something unheard of. She walked out the door, her eyes frantically searching for someone.
The man she was searching for was outside, corresponding beside the window the peculiar man was sitting at. The smiling man was still just looking around, watching the people order and smiling at the gazes. I looked behind him, in time to see the employee hand the wallet to a man in a sharp black ensemble, wallet remained unopened and unsearched for money. He wore a thin tie that looked expensive nonetheless and had a grey hair in a buzz cut fashion. Eyes that were cold with corporate negotiation lighted up as he shook her hand, her face now beaming and explaining how she found it on the ground.
This was not the environment of harsh New York City I was told I was to adjust to. It was before though, it was just as quiet and fast paced in this coffee shop on previous days as it had been on the bus and on the subway, or any public room filled with strangers. Silent, except for a couple of coughs, the ruffling of shopping bags. The eyes of strangers never meet each other’s, for if they did, they would immediately revert back to the wall or floor. And with that comparison, this room seemed very alive.
The laptop screens were pushed halfway down, as college students recognized a familiar logo on a random person’s shirt as they peaked up from their computer tops, and called to them about it. People turned, and talked. The coffees sat on wooden tables with smoke lingering from the tops and phones laid alone, with no fingers gripping the sides. And even the people with headphones lodged into their ears, waiting in line to receive their coffee and return to the normal honking of cars and rushing of foreign conversations speed by on the crowded streets seem to notice the difference.
Strange behavior, I thought to myself, standing up and glancing at the concentrated conversations people who had never meet each other before, were having. I remained the only one alone in this vibrant coffee house, the sun seemed to filter through the windows in an odd way as well. Instead of blinding the poor victims that had been sitting on the wrong sides of the room, it gushed into the room in light streams, casting spots of light on the tiled floor. The people entering the blooming room smiled as they ordered their coffee, and the ones waiting in line politely greeted the others in line. I stood, bewildered and my mind fell back to the smiling man, who was once sitting next to the window and smiling at those who did not seem to smile back. I looked and he was gone. I walked to his seat, a note laid, neatly folded.
I looked around, still surprised to see the lack of stern productiveness in the room and instead being filled with friendly chatter. I picked it up, not really knowing who the note was for. Neatly written, the note said simply in blue ink: Have a nice day! I was thoroughly bewildered at this point, and re read the four words. Have a nice day, simply as written. I shoved the note into my pocket, shook my head and left through the doors, leaving without picking up my already paid for order. The cashier can have it, she seems to work hard, I thought to myself then stopped. I stood in front of the building with a befuddled look and questioned my own words.
Never, I would have never left my coffee unfinished, it’d be a waste of money. Simple rule, still I refused to walk back into that atypical room, with all those conversing fools. I walked to the curb, and waited to call a taxi. It certainly was much colder out here, much more inhuman than it had been in that Starbucks. The sun shone in eyes and people clutched their processions quietly. And this felt normal.  Why though, I asked myself, suddenly interested in a subject I never even noticed. With people all around us, why not speak to them? Because it’s weird, I answered myself. I did not seem happy with this answer.
What is weird about talking to fellow humans, to mere strangers. They are strangers, I forced my thought into a mind that seemed to be changing, we do not know them. Ah, my mind countered, we do not know them yet. I thought hard about this, hard enough that I forgot to raise my hand up to catch the taxi speeding towards the curb. As it zoomed by with its client, I turned to watch it. The corners of my eye caught a hint of a man, sitting not quite against the coffee shop but near it. A hat that should belong on top of his head rested on the ground. A cardboard sign next to it said “Change?” I stared in the least obvious way possible.
Dozens of people like this pass my day, yet nothing, no sight had fixed itself like this before. A thought creeped into my mind, a merciful and unusual thought. But before I could scold myself nor act upon the act, the employee who handed the unopened wallet to the man before came out of the street. I locked eyes with her. She put a pleasant smile on her face and calmly strode over to the curb. “Sir” she began, courteously, “You forgot your coffee” and held it out for me. I smiled weakly, a smile that seemed troublingly honest, hopelessly genuine.
“Thank you” I acknowledged, and watched as she smiled, nodded a short bow of her head and paced back into the uncharacteristically welcoming coffee shop. I stood unsure what to make of this coffee. The steam rose from the top as I thought about the man without the hat on his head. “Don’t” I muttered as a war of morals fought it’s battle inside of me. Finally, a clear command broke from the raging bout.
I walked forward, and stood before the ragged, tired looking man. He seemed to be on the verge of sleep when I cleared my shaky voice and squeaked out “Would you like a coffee?” He looked up, question on his face. “I’m not in the mood today” I answered, reaching into my pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and held it out with the cup filled with coffee. “Here” I squatted and placed the cup on top of the bill, feeling very unlike myself. I saw a smile flicker onto the man’s wrinkled face as he sat up much straighter. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, very much” he croaked out with a hoarse voice. And with a strong grin, I stood up and walked away from the man, hailed a taxi and began to dawn on my recent act. I leaned against the seat of the quite cab and sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
“Hard day” the cab driver asked, looking up from the window. Instead of grumpily muttering a single word answer then excusing myself in my mind for my rudeness due to just not being a morning person, I smiled one more time. Possibly more than I had done in days.
“Something like that” I responded, and folded my hands on my lap, looking out at the jam-packed lanes of the city. “Busy day” I murmured to myself and fell back into thinking about my different morning.
I arrived at work on time, even ten minutes early. Very unusual, I thought as I pushed the button on the elevator. A cry rang out from outside and like it was instinct, my hand shot out and kept the door open. I stood appalled at myself as a clicking of heels drummed on the floor. “Thanks” a tall woman with orange hair walked into the elevator. I began to feel very fidgety and instead of gazing at her swept hair, thought about my kind deed of keeping the door open. I hated the mere thought of staying in a confined space with someone, but something was off with me today.
The lady looked at me and asked if I worked at my company. “Yes” I answered hurriedly, rushing to say the words. “Been there for a few years” I continued, then stopped myself from ongoing further.
“Perfect” she exclaimed and stepped forward, turning to face me. She held out one delicate hand and I surprisingly shook it without question. “It’s my first day” she explained I nodded, polity admiring her necklace and earrings. “Maybe” she said shyly, and I looked up at her face, “You could show me around” she rushed and astonishingly turned a tinge of pink. I never thought I would find a woman who liked other women in this sort of scenario, for it was too unexpected, too many things could go wrong. It was too spontaneous and could end as a simple one-night stand, with me leaving her room with eyes from strangers.
“Of-of course” I stammered, wholeheartedly tongue tied and baffled. For one, women like her never usually wished of my company, many of the other woman at my job referred to me as too bossy and strict. And a second thought creeped its way into my head, realizing now that I hated new employees. It appeared like they were always clueless and clumsy, but the softness of her handshake shook me up. I almost didn’t leave the elevator. As soon as I did, sitting down at my desk, I wished I hadn’t. A worrisome pile of papers, perhaps a half a foot high, waited for me and I looked around. My intern looked worried as she told me the issue.
“The printer- jammed up- bunch of papers all few out- all of them have just a few words” and finished with “Wasn’t my fault- I swear. Please don’t fire me” she plead. I shook my head at the book of papers with snippets of words on each. I looked at her anxious face and back again at the papers. Analyzing the situation, I felt a compulsive answer surface and before I could discontinue the thought, it spilled from my mouth in gentle demand.
“Lillian” I began softly and she flinched. “Please use the machine in the copy room to cut off the tops of the papers. Fill them with image of this note, please.” I rummaged into my pockets and pulled the note from earlier today, handing it to her with a blank face, I watched her worried face ease. Then jump into a state of amazement. Maybe it had been my fairly quite tone or the polite usage of my order, or even the oddness of the task. I too stood on the verge of tears, asking myself inside, why?
I turned and sat at my desk, pulling out the laptop I hadn’t touched at the shop and began working absentminded, on company paperwork. At lunch time, the strangely graceful newbie sat with me. I didn’t snap once, and people smiled at me today. It was alarming, I wondered if I had lost it. If years of training myself to be a ruthless leader and no-nonsense worker had failed. If I had simply gone soft. I almost left without a second glance at the copies of the note. Have a nice day! they all demanded and I felt a rush of hatred. This and that ludicrous Starbucks had stifled my ambitious self. I threw half of the wasted paper and ink into the trash.
Another moral brawl stirred in my stomach as I almost trashed the other pile. I sighed, complying to this new side of me and lifted the stack into my case. They were about the size of business cards and perfectionist Lilly had cut them meticulously to size. A task that must’ve taken her all day and basically gave her the day to cut paper, the efficient machine in me barked. But oh, what a work ethic that Lilly has, another voice answered back.
The ride home was awfully quiet and uneventful, the trip to my apartment silent despite the day I had. I was almost disappointed. Almost, because that time I decided to stop the tom-foolery and work on these papers. Already, however, I felt dreary and tired, the thought to grind through paper after boring paper left me in dread. I opened up the fridge and took out yesterday’s leftovers. Sitting in front of my couch, I paid little attention to my food and even less to the television.
Have a nice day. These unspoken words left a burning scar of pure discombobulation, turning my perfectly okay life into a big question mark of moral argument. I felt no regret, yet anger for having no regret. I can’t act like that again, I commanded myself yet without the perfect assurance of confidence I had before. To be honest, I felt at the mercy of the situation.
I crawled into bed feeling psychopathic, a flurry of thoughts whirling in my head between emotionless and compassionate, and still felt like losing either way. “Maybe” I muttered sleepily, a yawn creeping up. “I’ll figure it out as I sleep” I announced to no one but myself and fell into a deep slumber that would awoke violently by myself at 2 am. A clear stream of light flew through the dust, a light not meant to shine in the eyes of customers but to stream through windows, aimed at the ground. This light was not present in my room. I awoke fast, the sleep slowing me down however the curse of drowsiness was wearing thin. A curious thought broke into my mind as I slept and I myself did not seem to know the answer nor the act I was to follow.
I grabbed my case, flung it open and reached for the cards, removed the rubber band holding them together and threw on my coat. Rushing down the stairs, I purposefully dropped the card randomly as I flew across the building feeling weightless. The lobby manager was fast asleep as I tiptoed instead of thumping past him and delicately dropped a card on his desk, careful not to wake him. The doors of my building close as I march past them, relieved at the almost empty streets. Glancing behind me as I did so, I dropped dozens of cards. The pile stayed thick as a part of me thought, curiosity killed the cat.
I walked faster, dropping the cards and hoping not to be arrested for littering. I saw close to no one, nonetheless still speed down the streets, taking every route I knew and then retracing. A frenzy opened in my mind as I released card after card, knowing exactly the words lettered on them. I hoped that the man from before saw them as well. Another thought retaliated the one I had hours later, as I arrived minutes before the first employee of the Starbucks came. I am sure that my eyes must have looked droopy, my smile looking exhausted. Yet, the employee smiled the same and let me in.
I ordered two coffees and waited for the room to fill and the sun to begin to shine. The mood today was not like yesterday’s yet I thought a thought. Curiosity killed the cat, I recalled from before, but satisfaction brought it back. Perhaps it was kindness instead. I handed my money to the cashier, retrieved my two drinks, and sat by the window. I smiled at everyone who came into the shop as I realized I had forgotten my phone and laptop. I looked into my bag and felt a wave of familiarity as I pulled out a book with a cover.
I pulled the overdramatic cover off, seeing no interest in the staged black and white image, but I still didn’t touch the book.  A woman was staring at me intently, as I greeted all those who entered through the doors. I waved when I caught her eye, and as she looked down, I placed the final note on the top of the table. When I looked up, her eyes were following a boy who picked up an elderly woman’s jacket as it fell. The lights streamed through the windows as lovely conversations sparked around the coffee shop. I stood up to leave as the laptop screens were pushed down to better continue the conversations people began with strangers.
I had drunk all of my coffee, watched the crinkles in eyes as strangers politely smiled at one another and walked outside. The chill of the street left me much cooler than it had before and I thought that this was because I had felt warm finally, after a very long time experiencing silence and coldness. I handed the man outside my other coffee, along with another twenty -dollar bill, and waited for a cab. I glanced behind me after I hailed a taxi. Finally, as if this was the moment I had been waiting for, watched as the woman who was staring at me curiously reads the note. I knew what it read, word for word. Have a nice day.I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched. I sat down, my phone sticking out of my sweatshirt pocket and watched him, squinting my eyes.
Perhaps, I thought, he was just trying to get himself into a better mood. I’ve probably read the same exact article as him, how even fake smiling can brighten your mood. But his smile, it was unusual, it was genuine. He greeted the busy men in suits, smiled at the children tugged by rushed parents and even caught me staring. And he waved. I glanced down at my phone, opened it and stared at the screen, my mind attentive on this man across the room.
Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a day where the shop attempted to have people talk to each other, a rule just for the day. A rule indicating no electronics, a rule that would cause many to leave almost immediately after the pickup of their coffee. I quickly shut off my phone as I thought an employee was coming to tell me the news. She wore a neutral look on her face, an untidy hairstyle followed her. I slipped my device into my pocket and awaited her arrival. Yet, she walked past me, not evening looking up from her fixed point. My eyes followed her path and saw a wallet. A stealing, I thought. I was sure she was going to pick it up, bring it behind the counter and slip a dollar or two into her pocket. Then, I saw her do something unheard of. She walked out the door, her eyes frantically searching for someone.
The man she was searching for was outside, corresponding beside the window the peculiar man was sitting at. The smiling man was still just looking around, watching the people order and smiling at the gazes. I looked behind him, in time to see the employee hand the wallet to a man in a sharp black ensemble, wallet remained unopened and unsearched for money. He wore a thin tie that looked expensive nonetheless and had a grey hair in a buzz cut fashion. Eyes that were cold with corporate negotiation lighted up as he shook her hand, her face now beaming and explaining how she found it on the ground.
This was not the environment of harsh New York City I was told I was to adjust to. It was before though, it was just as quiet and fast paced in this coffee shop on previous days as it had been on the bus and on the subway, or any public room filled with strangers. Silent, except for a couple of coughs, the ruffling of shopping bags. The eyes of strangers never meet each other’s, for if they did, they would immediately revert back to the wall or floor. And with that comparison, this room seemed very alive.
The laptop screens were pushed halfway down, as college students recognized a familiar logo on a random person’s shirt as they peaked up from their computer tops, and called to them about it. People turned, and talked. The coffees sat on wooden tables with smoke lingering from the tops and phones laid alone, with no fingers gripping the sides. And even the people with headphones lodged into their ears, waiting in line to receive their coffee and return to the normal honking of cars and rushing of foreign conversations speed by on the crowded streets seem to notice the difference.
Strange behavior, I thought to myself, standing up and glancing at the concentrated conversations people who had never meet each other before, were having. I remained the only one alone in this vibrant coffee house, the sun seemed to filter through the windows in an odd way as well. Instead of blinding the poor victims that had been sitting on the wrong sides of the room, it gushed into the room in light streams, casting spots of light on the tiled floor. The people entering the blooming room smiled as they ordered their coffee, and the ones waiting in line politely greeted the others in line. I stood, bewildered and my mind fell back to the smiling man, who was once sitting next to the window and smiling at those who did not seem to smile back. I looked and he was gone. I walked to his seat, a note laid, neatly folded.
I looked around, still surprised to see the lack of stern productiveness in the room and instead being filled with friendly chatter. I picked it up, not really knowing who the note was for. Neatly written, the note said simply in blue ink: Have a nice day! I was thoroughly bewildered at this point, and re read the four words. Have a nice day, simply as written. I shoved the note into my pocket, shook my head and left through the doors, leaving without picking up my already paid for order. The cashier can have it, she seems to work hard, I thought to myself then stopped. I stood in front of the building with a befuddled look and questioned my own words.
Never, I would have never left my coffee unfinished, it’d be a waste of money. Simple rule, still I refused to walk back into that atypical room, with all those conversing fools. I walked to the curb, and waited to call a taxi. It certainly was much colder out here, much more inhuman than it had been in that Starbucks. The sun shone in eyes and people clutched their processions quietly. And this felt normal.  Why though, I asked myself, suddenly interested in a subject I never even noticed. With people all around us, why not speak to them? Because it’s weird, I answered myself. I did not seem happy with this answer.
What is weird about talking to fellow humans, to mere strangers. They are strangers, I forced my thought into a mind that seemed to be changing, we do not know them. Ah, my mind countered, we do not know them yet. I thought hard about this, hard enough that I forgot to raise my hand up to catch the taxi speeding towards the curb. As it zoomed by with its client, I turned to watch it. The corners of my eye caught a hint of a man, sitting not quite against the coffee shop but near it. A hat that should belong on top of his head rested on the ground. A cardboard sign next to it said “Change?” I stared in the least obvious way possible.
Dozens of people like this pass my day, yet nothing, no sight had fixed itself like this before. A thought creeped into my mind, a merciful and unusual thought. But before I could scold myself nor act upon the act, the employee who handed the unopened wallet to the man before came out of the street. I locked eyes with her. She put a pleasant smile on her face and calmly strode over to the curb. “Sir” she began, courteously, “You forgot your coffee” and held it out for me. I smiled weakly, a smile that seemed troublingly honest, hopelessly genuine.
“Thank you” I acknowledged, and watched as she smiled, nodded a short bow of her head and paced back into the uncharacteristically welcoming coffee shop. I stood unsure what to make of this coffee. The steam rose from the top as I thought about the man without the hat on his head. “Don’t” I muttered as a war of morals fought it’s battle inside of me. Finally, a clear command broke from the raging bout.
I walked forward, and stood before the ragged, tired looking man. He seemed to be on the verge of sleep when I cleared my shaky voice and squeaked out “Would you like a coffee?” He looked up, question on his face. “I’m not in the mood today” I answered, reaching into my pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and held it out with the cup filled with coffee. “Here” I squatted and placed the cup on top of the bill, feeling very unlike myself. I saw a smile flicker onto the man’s wrinkled face as he sat up much straighter. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, very much” he croaked out with a hoarse voice. And with a strong grin, I stood up and walked away from the man, hailed a taxi and began to dawn on my recent act. I leaned against the seat of the quite cab and sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
“Hard day” the cab driver asked, looking up from the window. Instead of grumpily muttering a single word answer then excusing myself in my mind for my rudeness due to just not being a morning person, I smiled one more time. Possibly more than I had done in days.
“Something like that” I responded, and folded my hands on my lap, looking out at the jam-packed lanes of the city. “Busy day” I murmured to myself and fell back into thinking about my different morning.
I arrived at work on time, even ten minutes early. Very unusual, I thought as I pushed the button on the elevator. A cry rang out from outside and like it was instinct, my hand shot out and kept the door open. I stood appalled at myself as a clicking of heels drummed on the floor. “Thanks” a tall woman with orange hair walked into the elevator. I began to feel very fidgety and instead of gazing at her swept hair, thought about my kind deed of keeping the door open. I hated the mere thought of staying in a confined space with someone, but something was off with me today.
The lady looked at me and asked if I worked at my company. “Yes” I answered hurriedly, rushing to say the words. “Been there for a few years” I continued, then stopped myself from ongoing further.
“Perfect” she exclaimed and stepped forward, turning to face me. She held out one delicate hand and I surprisingly shook it without question. “It’s my first day” she explained I nodded, polity admiring her necklace and earrings. “Maybe” she said shyly, and I looked up at her face, “You could show me around” she rushed and astonishingly turned a tinge of pink. I never thought I would find a woman who liked other women in this sort of scenario, for it was too unexpected, too many things could go wrong. It was too spontaneous and could end as a simple one-night stand, with me leaving her room with eyes from strangers.
“Of-of course” I stammered, wholeheartedly tongue tied and baffled. For one, women like her never usually wished of my company, many of the other woman at my job referred to me as too bossy and strict. And a second thought creeped its way into my head, realizing now that I hated new employees. It appeared like they were always clueless and clumsy, but the softness of her handshake shook me up. I almost didn’t leave the elevator. As soon as I did, sitting down at my desk, I wished I hadn’t. A worrisome pile of papers, perhaps a half a foot high, waited for me and I looked around. My intern looked worried as she told me the issue.
“The printer- jammed up- bunch of papers all few out- all of them have just a few words” and finished with “Wasn’t my fault- I swear. Please don’t fire me” she plead. I shook my head at the book of papers with snippets of words on each. I looked at her anxious face and back again at the papers. Analyzing the situation, I felt a compulsive answer surface and before I could discontinue the thought, it spilled from my mouth in gentle demand.
“Lillian” I began softly and she flinched. “Please use the machine in the copy room to cut off the tops of the papers. Fill them with image of this note, please.” I rummaged into my pockets and pulled the note from earlier today, handing it to her with a blank face, I watched her worried face ease. Then jump into a state of amazement. Maybe it had been my fairly quite tone or the polite usage of my order, or even the oddness of the task. I too stood on the verge of tears, asking myself inside, why?
I turned and sat at my desk, pulling out the laptop I hadn’t touched at the shop and began working absentminded, on company paperwork. At lunch time, the strangely graceful newbie sat with me. I didn’t snap once, and people smiled at me today. It was alarming, I wondered if I had lost it. If years of training myself to be a ruthless leader and no-nonsense worker had failed. If I had simply gone soft. I almost left without a second glance at the copies of the note. Have a nice day! they all demanded and I felt a rush of hatred. This and that ludicrous Starbucks had stifled my ambitious self. I threw half of the wasted paper and ink into the trash.
Another moral brawl stirred in my stomach as I almost trashed the other pile. I sighed, complying to this new side of me and lifted the stack into my case. They were about the size of business cards and perfectionist Lilly had cut them meticulously to size. A task that must’ve taken her all day and basically gave her the day to cut paper, the efficient machine in me barked. But oh, what a work ethic that Lilly has, another voice answered back.
The ride home was awfully quiet and uneventful, the trip to my apartment silent despite the day I had. I was almost disappointed. Almost, because that time I decided to stop the tom-foolery and work on these papers. Already, however, I felt dreary and tired, the thought to grind through paper after boring paper left me in dread. I opened up the fridge and took out yesterday’s leftovers. Sitting in front of my couch, I paid little attention to my food and even less to the television.
Have a nice day. These unspoken words left a burning scar of pure discombobulation, turning my perfectly okay life into a big question mark of moral argument. I felt no regret, yet anger for having no regret. I can’t act like that again, I commanded myself yet without the perfect assurance of confidence I had before. To be honest, I felt at the mercy of the situation.
I crawled into bed feeling psychopathic, a flurry of thoughts whirling in my head between emotionless and compassionate, and still felt like losing either way. “Maybe” I muttered sleepily, a yawn creeping up. “I’ll figure it out as I sleep” I announced to no one but myself and fell into a deep slumber that would awoke violently by myself at 2 am. A clear stream of light flew through the dust, a light not meant to shine in the eyes of customers but to stream through windows, aimed at the ground. This light was not present in my room. I awoke fast, the sleep slowing me down however the curse of drowsiness was wearing thin. A curious thought broke into my mind as I slept and I myself did not seem to know the answer nor the act I was to follow.
I grabbed my case, flung it open and reached for the cards, removed the rubber band holding them together and threw on my coat. Rushing down the stairs, I purposefully dropped the card randomly as I flew across the building feeling weightless. The lobby manager was fast asleep as I tiptoed instead of thumping past him and delicately dropped a card on his desk, careful not to wake him. The doors of my building close as I march past them, relieved at the almost empty streets. Glancing behind me as I did so, I dropped dozens of cards. The pile stayed thick as a part of me thought, curiosity killed the cat.
I walked faster, dropping the cards and hoping not to be arrested for littering. I saw close to no one, nonetheless still speed down the streets, taking every route I knew and then retracing. A frenzy opened in my mind as I released card after card, knowing exactly the words lettered on them. I hoped that the man from before saw them as well. Another thought retaliated the one I had hours later, as I arrived minutes before the first employee of the Starbucks came. I am sure that my eyes must have looked droopy, my smile looking exhausted. Yet, the employee smiled the same and let me in.
I ordered two coffees and waited for the room to fill and the sun to begin to shine. The mood today was not like yesterday’s yet I thought a thought. Curiosity killed the cat, I recalled from before, but satisfaction brought it back. Perhaps it was kindness instead. I handed my money to the cashier, retrieved my two drinks, and sat by the window. I smiled at everyone who came into the shop as I realized I had forgotten my phone and laptop. I looked into my bag and felt a wave of familiarity as I pulled out a book with a cover.
I pulled the overdramatic cover off, seeing no interest in the staged black and white image, but I still didn’t touch the book.  A woman was staring at me intently, as I greeted all those who entered through the doors. I waved when I caught her eye, and as she looked down, I placed the final note on the top of the table. When I looked up, her eyes were following a boy who picked up an elderly woman’s jacket as it fell. The lights streamed through the windows as lovely conversations sparked around the coffee shop. I stood up to leave as the laptop screens were pushed down to better continue the conversations people began with strangers.
I had drunk all of my coffee, watched the crinkles in eyes as strangers politely smiled at one another and walked outside. The chill of the street left me much cooler than it had before and I thought that this was because I had felt warm finally, after a very long time experiencing silence and coldness. I handed the man outside my other coffee, along with another twenty -dollar bill, and waited for a cab. I glanced behind me after I hailed a taxi. Finally, as if this was the moment I had been waiting for, watched as the woman who was staring at me curiously reads the note. I knew what it read, word for word. Have a nice day.I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched. I sat down, my phone sticking out of my sweatshirt pocket and watched him, squinting my eyes.
Perhaps, I thought, he was just trying to get himself into a better mood. I’ve probably read the same exact article as him, how even fake smiling can brighten your mood. But his smile, it was unusual, it was genuine. He greeted the busy men in suits, smiled at the children tugged by rushed parents and even caught me staring. And he waved. I glanced down at my phone, opened it and stared at the screen, my mind attentive on this man across the room.
Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a day where the shop attempted to have people talk to each other, a rule just for the day. A rule indicating no electronics, a rule that would cause many to leave almost immediately after the pickup of their coffee. I quickly shut off my phone as I thought an employee was coming to tell me the news. She wore a neutral look on her face, an untidy hairstyle followed her. I slipped my device into my pocket and awaited her arrival. Yet, she walked past me, not evening looking up from her fixed point. My eyes followed her path and saw a wallet. A stealing, I thought. I was sure she was going to pick it up, bring it behind the counter and slip a dollar or two into her pocket. Then, I saw her do something unheard of. She walked out the door, her eyes frantically searching for someone.
The man she was searching for was outside, corresponding beside the window the peculiar man was sitting at. The smiling man was still just looking around, watching the people order and smiling at the gazes. I looked behind him, in time to see the employee hand the wallet to a man in a sharp black ensemble, wallet remained unopened and unsearched for money. He wore a thin tie that looked expensive nonetheless and had a grey hair in a buzz cut fashion. Eyes that were cold with corporate negotiation lighted up as he shook her hand, her face now beaming and explaining how she found it on the ground.
This was not the environment of harsh New York City I was told I was to adjust to. It was before though, it was just as quiet and fast paced in this coffee shop on previous days as it had been on the bus and on the subway, or any public room filled with strangers. Silent, except for a couple of coughs, the ruffling of shopping bags. The eyes of strangers never meet each other’s, for if they did, they would immediately revert back to the wall or floor. And with that comparison, this room seemed very alive.
The laptop screens were pushed halfway down, as college students recognized a familiar logo on a random person’s shirt as they peaked up from their computer tops, and called to them about it. People turned, and talked. The coffees sat on wooden tables with smoke lingering from the tops and phones laid alone, with no fingers gripping the sides. And even the people with headphones lodged into their ears, waiting in line to receive their coffee and return to the normal honking of cars and rushing of foreign conversations speed by on the crowded streets seem to notice the difference.
Strange behavior, I thought to myself, standing up and glancing at the concentrated conversations people who had never meet each other before, were having. I remained the only one alone in this vibrant coffee house, the sun seemed to filter through the windows in an odd way as well. Instead of blinding the poor victims that had been sitting on the wrong sides of the room, it gushed into the room in light streams, casting spots of light on the tiled floor. The people entering the blooming room smiled as they ordered their coffee, and the ones waiting in line politely greeted the others in line. I stood, bewildered and my mind fell back to the smiling man, who was once sitting next to the window and smiling at those who did not seem to smile back. I looked and he was gone. I walked to his seat, a note laid, neatly folded.
I looked around, still surprised to see the lack of stern productiveness in the room and instead being filled with friendly chatter. I picked it up, not really knowing who the note was for. Neatly written, the note said simply in blue ink: Have a nice day! I was thoroughly bewildered at this point, and re read the four words. Have a nice day, simply as written. I shoved the note into my pocket, shook my head and left through the doors, leaving without picking up my already paid for order. The cashier can have it, she seems to work hard, I thought to myself then stopped. I stood in front of the building with a befuddled look and questioned my own words.
Never, I would have never left my coffee unfinished, it’d be a waste of money. Simple rule, still I refused to walk back into that atypical room, with all those conversing fools. I walked to the curb, and waited to call a taxi. It certainly was much colder out here, much more inhuman than it had been in that Starbucks. The sun shone in eyes and people clutched their processions quietly. And this felt normal.  Why though, I asked myself, suddenly interested in a subject I never even noticed. With people all around us, why not speak to them? Because it’s weird, I answered myself. I did not seem happy with this answer.
What is weird about talking to fellow humans, to mere strangers. They are strangers, I forced my thought into a mind that seemed to be changing, we do not know them. Ah, my mind countered, we do not know them yet. I thought hard about this, hard enough that I forgot to raise my hand up to catch the taxi speeding towards the curb. As it zoomed by with its client, I turned to watch it. The corners of my eye caught a hint of a man, sitting not quite against the coffee shop but near it. A hat that should belong on top of his head rested on the ground. A cardboard sign next to it said “Change?” I stared in the least obvious way possible.
Dozens of people like this pass my day, yet nothing, no sight had fixed itself like this before. A thought creeped into my mind, a merciful and unusual thought. But before I could scold myself nor act upon the act, the employee who handed the unopened wallet to the man before came out of the street. I locked eyes with her. She put a pleasant smile on her face and calmly strode over to the curb. “Sir” she began, courteously, “You forgot your coffee” and held it out for me. I smiled weakly, a smile that seemed troublingly honest, hopelessly genuine.
“Thank you” I acknowledged, and watched as she smiled, nodded a short bow of her head and paced back into the uncharacteristically welcoming coffee shop. I stood unsure what to make of this coffee. The steam rose from the top as I thought about the man without the hat on his head. “Don’t” I muttered as a war of morals fought it’s battle inside of me. Finally, a clear command broke from the raging bout.
I walked forward, and stood before the ragged, tired looking man. He seemed to be on the verge of sleep when I cleared my shaky voice and squeaked out “Would you like a coffee?” He looked up, question on his face. “I’m not in the mood today” I answered, reaching into my pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and held it out with the cup filled with coffee. “Here” I squatted and placed the cup on top of the bill, feeling very unlike myself. I saw a smile flicker onto the man’s wrinkled face as he sat up much straighter. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, very much” he croaked out with a hoarse voice. And with a strong grin, I stood up and walked away from the man, hailed a taxi and began to dawn on my recent act. I leaned against the seat of the quite cab and sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
“Hard day” the cab driver asked, looking up from the window. Instead of grumpily muttering a single word answer then excusing myself in my mind for my rudeness due to just not being a morning person, I smiled one more time. Possibly more than I had done in days.
“Something like that” I responded, and folded my hands on my lap, looking out at the jam-packed lanes of the city. “Busy day” I murmured to myself and fell back into thinking about my different morning.
I arrived at work on time, even ten minutes early. Very unusual, I thought as I pushed the button on the elevator. A cry rang out from outside and like it was instinct, my hand shot out and kept the door open. I stood appalled at myself as a clicking of heels drummed on the floor. “Thanks” a tall woman with orange hair walked into the elevator. I began to feel very fidgety and instead of gazing at her swept hair, thought about my kind deed of keeping the door open. I hated the mere thought of staying in a confined space with someone, but something was off with me today.
The lady looked at me and asked if I worked at my company. “Yes” I answered hurriedly, rushing to say the words. “Been there for a few years” I continued, then stopped myself from ongoing further.
“Perfect” she exclaimed and stepped forward, turning to face me. She held out one delicate hand and I surprisingly shook it without question. “It’s my first day” she explained I nodded, polity admiring her necklace and earrings. “Maybe” she said shyly, and I looked up at her face, “You could show me around” she rushed and astonishingly turned a tinge of pink. I never thought I would find a woman who liked other women in this sort of scenario, for it was too unexpected, too many things could go wrong. It was too spontaneous and could end as a simple one-night stand, with me leaving her room with eyes from strangers.
“Of-of course” I stammered, wholeheartedly tongue tied and baffled. For one, women like her never usually wished of my company, many of the other woman at my job referred to me as too bossy and strict. And a second thought creeped its way into my head, realizing now that I hated new employees. It appeared like they were always clueless and clumsy, but the softness of her handshake shook me up. I almost didn’t leave the elevator. As soon as I did, sitting down at my desk, I wished I hadn’t. A worrisome pile of papers, perhaps a half a foot high, waited for me and I looked around. My intern looked worried as she told me the issue.
“The printer- jammed up- bunch of papers all few out- all of them have just a few words” and finished with “Wasn’t my fault- I swear. Please don’t fire me” she plead. I shook my head at the book of papers with snippets of words on each. I looked at her anxious face and back again at the papers. Analyzing the situation, I felt a compulsive answer surface and before I could discontinue the thought, it spilled from my mouth in gentle demand.
“Lillian” I began softly and she flinched. “Please use the machine in the copy room to cut off the tops of the papers. Fill them with image of this note, please.” I rummaged into my pockets and pulled the note from earlier today, handing it to her with a blank face, I watched her worried face ease. Then jump into a state of amazement. Maybe it had been my fairly quite tone or the polite usage of my order, or even the oddness of the task. I too stood on the verge of tears, asking myself inside, why?
I turned and sat at my desk, pulling out the laptop I hadn’t touched at the shop and began working absentminded, on company paperwork. At lunch time, the strangely graceful newbie sat with me. I didn’t snap once, and people smiled at me today. It was alarming, I wondered if I had lost it. If years of training myself to be a ruthless leader and no-nonsense worker had failed. If I had simply gone soft. I almost left without a second glance at the copies of the note. Have a nice day! they all demanded and I felt a rush of hatred. This and that ludicrous Starbucks had stifled my ambitious self. I threw half of the wasted paper and ink into the trash.
Another moral brawl stirred in my stomach as I almost trashed the other pile. I sighed, complying to this new side of me and lifted the stack into my case. They were about the size of business cards and perfectionist Lilly had cut them meticulously to size. A task that must’ve taken her all day and basically gave her the day to cut paper, the efficient machine in me barked. But oh, what a work ethic that Lilly has, another voice answered back.
The ride home was awfully quiet and uneventful, the trip to my apartment silent despite the day I had. I was almost disappointed. Almost, because that time I decided to stop the tom-foolery and work on these papers. Already, however, I felt dreary and tired, the thought to grind through paper after boring paper left me in dread. I opened up the fridge and took out yesterday’s leftovers. Sitting in front of my couch, I paid little attention to my food and even less to the television.
Have a nice day. These unspoken words left a burning scar of pure discombobulation, turning my perfectly okay life into a big question mark of moral argument. I felt no regret, yet anger for having no regret. I can’t act like that again, I commanded myself yet without the perfect assurance of confidence I had before. To be honest, I felt at the mercy of the situation.
I crawled into bed feeling psychopathic, a flurry of thoughts whirling in my head between emotionless and compassionate, and still felt like losing either way. “Maybe” I muttered sleepily, a yawn creeping up. “I’ll figure it out as I sleep” I announced to no one but myself and fell into a deep slumber that would awoke violently by myself at 2 am. A clear stream of light flew through the dust, a light not meant to shine in the eyes of customers but to stream through windows, aimed at the ground. This light was not present in my room. I awoke fast, the sleep slowing me down however the curse of drowsiness was wearing thin. A curious thought broke into my mind as I slept and I myself did not seem to know the answer nor the act I was to follow.
I grabbed my case, flung it open and reached for the cards, removed the rubber band holding them together and threw on my coat. Rushing down the stairs, I purposefully dropped the card randomly as I flew across the building feeling weightless. The lobby manager was fast asleep as I tiptoed instead of thumping past him and delicately dropped a card on his desk, careful not to wake him. The doors of my building close as I march past them, relieved at the almost empty streets. Glancing behind me as I did so, I dropped dozens of cards. The pile stayed thick as a part of me thought, curiosity killed the cat.
I walked faster, dropping the cards and hoping not to be arrested for littering. I saw close to no one, nonetheless still speed down the streets, taking every route I knew and then retracing. A frenzy opened in my mind as I released card after card, knowing exactly the words lettered on them. I hoped that the man from before saw them as well. Another thought retaliated the one I had hours later, as I arrived minutes before the first employee of the Starbucks came. I am sure that my eyes must have looked droopy, my smile looking exhausted. Yet, the employee smiled the same and let me in.
I ordered two coffees and waited for the room to fill and the sun to begin to shine. The mood today was not like yesterday’s yet I thought a thought. Curiosity killed the cat, I recalled from before, but satisfaction brought it back. Perhaps it was kindness instead. I handed my money to the cashier, retrieved my two drinks, and sat by the window. I smiled at everyone who came into the shop as I realized I had forgotten my phone and laptop. I looked into my bag and felt a wave of familiarity as I pulled out a book with a cover.
I pulled the overdramatic cover off, seeing no interest in the staged black and white image, but I still didn’t touch the book.  A woman was staring at me intently, as I greeted all those who entered through the doors. I waved when I caught her eye, and as she looked down, I placed the final note on the top of the table. When I looked up, her eyes were following a boy who picked up an elderly woman’s jacket as it fell. The lights streamed through the windows as lovely conversations sparked around the coffee shop. I stood up to leave as the laptop screens were pushed down to better continue the conversations people began with strangers.
I had drunk all of my coffee, watched the crinkles in eyes as strangers politely smiled at one another and walked outside. The chill of the street left me much cooler than it had before and I thought that this was because I had felt warm finally, after a very long time experiencing silence and coldness. I handed the man outside my other coffee, along with another twenty -dollar bill, and waited for a cab. I glanced behind me after I hailed a taxi. Finally, as if this was the moment I had been waiting for, watched as the woman who was staring at me curiously reads the note. I knew what it read, word for word. Have a nice day.I walked into Starbucks, and saw a very peculiar man. He was sitting in the seat beside the window, doing the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while. He was smiling at the passing costumers, no phone in his hand, no laptop sheathed in a bag. He did, however, have a book, but it was a great big book with no cover. The cover was removed and the red clover-less book laid untouched. I sat down, my phone sticking out of my sweatshirt pocket and watched him, squinting my eyes.
Perhaps, I thought, he was just trying to get himself into a better mood. I’ve probably read the same exact article as him, how even fake smiling can brighten your mood. But his smile, it was unusual, it was genuine. He greeted the busy men in suits, smiled at the children tugged by rushed parents and even caught me staring. And he waved. I glanced down at my phone, opened it and stared at the screen, my mind attentive on this man across the room.
Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a day where the shop attempted to have people talk to each other, a rule just for the day. A rule indicating no electronics, a rule that would cause many to leave almost immediately after the pickup of their coffee. I quickly shut off my phone as I thought an employee was coming to tell me the news. She wore a neutral look on her face, an untidy hairstyle followed her. I slipped my device into my pocket and awaited her arrival. Yet, she walked past me, not evening looking up from her fixed point. My eyes followed her path and saw a wallet. A stealing, I thought. I was sure she was going to pick it up, bring it behind the counter and slip a dollar or two into her pocket. Then, I saw her do something unheard of. She walked out the door, her eyes frantically searching for someone.
The man she was searching for was outside, corresponding beside the window the peculiar man was sitting at. The smiling man was still just looking around, watching the people order and smiling at the gazes. I looked behind him, in time to see the employee hand the wallet to a man in a sharp black ensemble, wallet remained unopened and unsearched for money. He wore a thin tie that looked expensive nonetheless and had a grey hair in a buzz cut fashion. Eyes that were cold with corporate negotiation lighted up as he shook her hand, her face now beaming and explaining how she found it on the ground.
This was not the environment of harsh New York City I was told I was to adjust to. It was before though, it was just as quiet and fast paced in this coffee shop on previous days as it had been on the bus and on the subway, or any public room filled with strangers. Silent, except for a couple of coughs, the ruffling of shopping bags. The eyes of strangers never meet each other’s, for if they did, they would immediately revert back to the wall or floor. And with that comparison, this room seemed very alive.
The laptop screens were pushed halfway down, as college students recognized a familiar logo on a random person’s shirt as they peaked up from their computer tops, and called to them about it. People turned, and talked. The coffees sat on wooden tables with smoke lingering from the tops and phones laid alone, with no fingers gripping the sides. And even the people with headphones lodged into their ears, waiting in line to receive their coffee and return to the normal honking of cars and rushing of foreign conversations speed by on the crowded streets seem to notice the difference.
Strange behavior, I thought to myself, standing up and glancing at the concentrated conversations people who had never meet each other before, were having. I remained the only one alone in this vibrant coffee house, the sun seemed to filter through the windows in an odd way as well. Instead of blinding the poor victims that had been sitting on the wrong sides of the room, it gushed into the room in light streams, casting spots of light on the tiled floor. The people entering the blooming room smiled as they ordered their coffee, and the ones waiting in line politely greeted the others in line. I stood, bewildered and my mind fell back to the smiling man, who was once sitting next to the window and smiling at those who did not seem to smile back. I looked and he was gone. I walked to his seat, a note laid, neatly folded.
I looked around, still surprised to see the lack of stern productiveness in the room and instead being filled with friendly chatter. I picked it up, not really knowing who the note was for. Neatly written, the note said simply in blue ink: Have a nice day! I was thoroughly bewildered at this point, and re read the four words. Have a nice day, simply as written. I shoved the note into my pocket, shook my head and left through the doors, leaving without picking up my already paid for order. The cashier can have it, she seems to work hard, I thought to myself then stopped. I stood in front of the building with a befuddled look and questioned my own words.
Never, I would have never left my coffee unfinished, it’d be a waste of money. Simple rule, still I refused to walk back into that atypical room, with all those conversing fools. I walked to the curb, and waited to call a taxi. It certainly was much colder out here, much more inhuman than it had been in that Starbucks. The sun shone in eyes and people clutched their processions quietly. And this felt normal.  Why though, I asked myself, suddenly interested in a subject I never even noticed. With people all around us, why not speak to them? Because it’s weird, I answered myself. I did not seem happy with this answer.
What is weird about talking to fellow humans, to mere strangers. They are strangers, I forced my thought into a mind that seemed to be changing, we do not know them. Ah, my mind countered, we do not know them yet. I thought hard about this, hard enough that I forgot to raise my hand up to catch the taxi speeding towards the curb. As it zoomed by with its client, I turned to watch it. The corners of my eye caught a hint of a man, sitting not quite against the coffee shop but near it. A hat that should belong on top of his head rested on the ground. A cardboard sign next to it said “Change?” I stared in the least obvious way possible.
Dozens of people like this pass my day, yet nothing, no sight had fixed itself like this before. A thought creeped into my mind, a merciful and unusual thought. But before I could scold myself nor act upon the act, the employee who handed the unopened wallet to the man before came out of the street. I locked eyes with her. She put a pleasant smile on her face and calmly strode over to the curb. “Sir” she began, courteously, “You forgot your coffee” and held it out for me. I smiled weakly, a smile that seemed troublingly honest, hopelessly genuine.
“Thank you” I acknowledged, and watched as she smiled, nodded a short bow of her head and paced back into the uncharacteristically welcoming coffee shop. I stood unsure what to make of this coffee. The steam rose from the top as I thought about the man without the hat on his head. “Don’t” I muttered as a war of morals fought it’s battle inside of me. Finally, a clear command broke from the raging bout.
I walked forward, and stood before the ragged, tired looking man. He seemed to be on the verge of sleep when I cleared my shaky voice and squeaked out “Would you like a coffee?” He looked up, question on his face. “I’m not in the mood today” I answered, reaching into my pocket, pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and held it out with the cup filled with coffee. “Here” I squatted and placed the cup on top of the bill, feeling very unlike myself. I saw a smile flicker onto the man’s wrinkled face as he sat up much straighter. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, very much” he croaked out with a hoarse voice. And with a strong grin, I stood up and walked away from the man, hailed a taxi and began to dawn on my recent act. I leaned against the seat of the quite cab and sighed a deep, heavy sigh.
“Hard day” the cab driver asked, looking up from the window. Instead of grumpily muttering a single word answer then excusing myself in my mind for my rudeness due to just not being a morning person, I smiled one more time. Possibly more than I had done in days.
“Something like that” I responded, and folded my hands on my lap, looking out at the jam-packed lanes of the city. “Busy day” I murmured to myself and fell back into thinking about my different morning.
I arrived at work on time, even ten minutes early. Very unusual, I thought as I pushed the button on the elevator. A cry rang out from outside and like it was instinct, my hand shot out and kept the door open. I stood appalled at myself as a clicking of heels drummed on the floor. “Thanks” a tall woman with orange hair walked into the elevator. I began to feel very fidgety and instead of gazing at her swept hair, thought about my kind deed of keeping the door open. I hated the mere thought of staying in a confined space with someone, but something was off with me today.
The lady looked at me and asked if I worked at my company. “Yes” I answered hurriedly, rushing to say the words. “Been there for a few years” I continued, then stopped myself from ongoing further.
“Perfect” she exclaimed and stepped forward, turning to face me. She held out one delicate hand and I surprisingly shook it without question. “It’s my first day” she explained I nodded, polity admiring her necklace and earrings. “Maybe” she said shyly, and I looked up at her face, “You could show me around” she rushed and astonishingly turned a tinge of pink. I never thought I would find a woman who liked other women in this sort of scenario, for it was too unexpected, too many things could go wrong. It was too spontaneous and could end as a simple one-night stand, with me leaving her room with eyes from strangers.
“Of-of course” I stammered, wholeheartedly tongue tied and baffled. For one, women like her never usually wished of my company, many of the other woman at my job referred to me as too bossy and strict. And a second thought creeped its way into my head, realizing now that I hated new employees. It appeared like they were always clueless and clumsy, but the softness of her handshake shook me up. I almost didn’t leave the elevator. As soon as I did, sitting down at my desk, I wished I hadn’t. A worrisome pile of papers, perhaps a half a foot high, waited for me and I looked around. My intern looked worried as she told me the issue.
“The printer- jammed up- bunch of papers all few out- all of them have just a few words” and finished with “Wasn’t my fault- I swear. Please don’t fire me” she plead. I shook my head at the book of papers with snippets of words on each. I looked at her anxious face and back again at the papers. Analyzing the situation, I felt a compulsive answer surface and before I could discontinue the thought, it spilled from my mouth in gentle demand.
“Lillian” I began softly and she flinched. “Please use the machine in the copy room to cut off the tops of the papers. Fill them with image of this note, please.” I rummaged into my pockets and pulled the note from earlier today, handing it to her with a blank face, I watched her worried face ease. Then jump into a state of amazement. Maybe it had been my fairly quite tone or the polite usage of my order, or even the oddness of the task. I too stood on the verge of tears, asking myself inside, why?
I turned and sat at my desk, pulling out the laptop I hadn’t touched at the shop and began working absentminded, on company paperwork. At lunch time, the strangely graceful newbie sat with me. I didn’t snap once, and people smiled at me today. It was alarming, I wondered if I had lost it. If years of training myself to be a ruthless leader and no-nonsense worker had failed. If I had simply gone soft. I almost left without a second glance at the copies of the note. Have a nice day! they all demanded and I felt a rush of hatred. This and that ludicrous Starbucks had stifled my ambitious self. I threw half of the wasted paper and ink into the trash.
Another moral brawl stirred in my stomach as I almost trashed the other pile. I sighed, complying to this new side of me and lifted the stack into my case. They were about the size of business cards and perfectionist Lilly had cut them meticulously to size. A task that must’ve taken her all day and basically gave her the day to cut paper, the efficient machine in me barked. But oh, what a work ethic that Lilly has, another voice answered back.
The ride home was awfully quiet and uneventful, the trip to my apartment silent despite the day I had. I was almost disappointed. Almost, because that time I decided to stop the tom-foolery and work on these papers. Already, however, I felt dreary and tired, the thought to grind through paper after boring paper left me in dread. I opened up the fridge and took out yesterday’s leftovers. Sitting in front of my couch, I paid little attention to my food and even less to the television.
Have a nice day. These unspoken words left a burning scar of pure discombobulation, turning my perfectly okay life into a big question mark of moral argument. I felt no regret, yet anger for having no regret. I can’t act like that again, I commanded myself yet without the perfect assurance of confidence I had before. To be honest, I felt at the mercy of the situation.
I crawled into bed feeling psychopathic, a flurry of thoughts whirling in my head between emotionless and compassionate, and still felt like losing either way. “Maybe” I muttered sleepily, a yawn creeping up. “I’ll figure it out as I sleep” I announced to no one but myself and fell into a deep slumber that would awoke violently by myself at 2 am. A clear stream of light flew through the dust, a light not meant to shine in the eyes of customers but to stream through windows, aimed at the ground. This light was not present in my room. I awoke fast, the sleep slowing me down however the curse of drowsiness was wearing thin. A curious thought broke into my mind as I slept and I myself did not seem to know the answer nor the act I was to follow.
I grabbed my case, flung it open and reached for the cards, removed the rubber band holding them together and threw on my coat. Rushing down the stairs, I purposefully dropped the card randomly as I flew across the building feeling weightless. The lobby manager was fast asleep as I tiptoed instead of thumping past him and delicately dropped a card on his desk, careful not to wake him. The doors of my building close as I march past them, relieved at the almost empty streets. Glancing behind me as I did so, I dropped dozens of cards. The pile stayed thick as a part of me thought, curiosity killed the cat.
I walked faster, dropping the cards and hoping not to be arrested for littering. I saw close to no one, nonetheless still speed down the streets, taking every route I knew and then retracing. A frenzy opened in my mind as I released card after card, knowing exactly the words lettered on them. I hoped that the man from before saw them as well. Another thought retaliated the one I had hours later, as I arrived minutes before the first employee of the Starbucks came. I am sure that my eyes must have looked droopy, my smile looking exhausted. Yet, the employee smiled the same and let me in.
I ordered two coffees and waited for the room to fill and the sun to begin to shine. The mood today was not like yesterday’s yet I thought a thought. Curiosity killed the cat, I recalled from before, but satisfaction brought it back. Perhaps it was kindness instead. I handed my money to the cashier, retrieved my two drinks, and sat by the window. I smiled at everyone who came into the shop as I realized I had forgotten my phone and laptop. I looked into my bag and felt a wave of familiarity as I pulled out a book with a cover.
I pulled the overdramatic cover off, seeing no interest in the staged black and white image, but I still didn’t touch the book.  A woman was staring at me intently, as I greeted all those who entered through the doors. I waved when I caught her eye, and as she looked down, I placed the final note on the top of the table. When I looked up, her eyes were following a boy who picked up an elderly woman’s jacket as it fell. The lights streamed through the windows as lovely conversations sparked around the coffee shop. I stood up to leave as the laptop screens were pushed down to better continue the conversations people began with strangers.
I had drunk all of my coffee, watched the crinkles in eyes as strangers politely smiled at one another and walked outside. The chill of the street left me much cooler than it had before and I thought that this was because I had felt warm finally, after a very long time experiencing silence and coldness. I handed the man outside my other coffee, along with another twenty -dollar bill, and waited for a cab. I glanced behind me after I hailed a taxi. Finally, as if this was the moment I had been waiting for, watched as the woman who was staring at me curiously reads the note. I knew what it read, word for word. Have a nice day.


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