Excuse me

Cafe, nose in a novel, 7:00am, caffeine stirring the slow blood. Reading Basho, his long walk to the north country becoming less epic and tasting more like necessity. I take a gentle sip of the the black and I notice a shadow on the floor. Someone’s making their way to my table. Excuse me, sir a little voice says. I don’t acknowledge the greeting. Probably looking for change. Again: Excuse me? Shade of indignity in that one. I close my book and look up, take another pull from my cup. She’s a short brun, nice eyebrows, big rock on her finger. “Sorry, yeah, hello” from me. That’s ok, she smiles. Holds a 3-inch square of paper in her hand. “Do you know how to get to college plaza,” she asks. I speak plainly and graciously, my voice slightly roughened from the black. I give her concise directions and even some parking advice. She smiles, says thanks, folds the square away. I gulp the rest of my brew and gather my stuff. Out the door to the clamour of the day. Caffeine behind my lids, a few dozen members of the working herd out here in their flats and woolen scarves. Car after car, bus after bus, everyone looking for a place. Jacket zipper broken, headphones on. Convenience store lights spill into the curb lane. Someone hits the crosswalk button.