Reconnaissance

It’s an overcast Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving.

The post-DST darkness outside is inappropriately called 5pm. Outside, streetlights and headlights hum as people rush home for the long weekend. Combined, the late-November chill and hurried atmosphere are a stark contrast to what I’m experiencing inside.

Java oozes into the air, it’s warm, and time ticks slower than a heartbeat. At the table across from me, a tutor sits down with her tutee, setting out a few notebooks, a calculator, and a couple pencils, preparing to chip away. At the adjacent table, a bald, lithe man, probably in his twenties, is hard at work in front of a laptop, fingers momentarily rising, then quickly whipping back down to lash their next key, immersed in whatever his headphones are playing. At the next table, closer to me, a young, blonde-haired boy carelessly flicks fingers across an iPad while a woman, across from him, presumably his mother, dips into a fresh StarTribune. A hot coffee rests next to her elbow.

Meanwhile, at the counter, orders are taken, made, and distributed, all amidst a flurry of fluttering hands, quickly pouring, whipping, and stirring together customized drinks. Frequently, there are resounding clinks as a handful of coins fall into a glass bowl: a considerate tip.

My interviewer is running late.

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