She looks frazzled. Undocumented receipts protrude from her wallet as she scrambles for plastic to cover the cost of an overpriced caffè mocha with an extra shot of espresso. The duties of a barista aren’t elaborate, but essential – by the looks of it, this poor girl could desperately use an energy boost. I prepare the drink with ease and expertise, then slide a zarf onto the sizable venti cup. Before questions are raised, you know those disposable cardboard sleeves that proudly announce the Starbucks emblem? – those are zarfs. Anyhow, I scribble “Abby” onto the cup and speak her name above the noise consisting of patrons’ friendly chatter and business garble, along with the faint humming of Iron and Wine in the background. She picks up the drink and grabs a couple napkins before walking out the door. When outside and away from the chaos, she chooses a table and pulls out an enormous textbook and an infamous Texas Instrument from her tote. I periodically glance at her through the window for the next hour or so as she fingers her way through the book and methodically sips her coffee every few pages. Her furrowed look has slightly softened and she appears more relaxed, despite the bulging backpack lying on the ground next to her, with book corners jutting against the seams, beckoning the zipper to part its teeth. Being end of semester, I imagine she’s studying for finals, cramming every underlined phrase and bold word into the little available space left in her memory capacity. I commend students for their labor – regurgitating facts and understanding foreign material is no easy task. Judging by the time lapse and disregarded cup no longer in reach, it is safe to assume her beverage has been depleted. My shift ends in five minutes, so I quickly make another sweet mocha and generously froth whipped cream over the steaming dark liquid. On the side of the cup, I quote Erdos: “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.” I place the drink on her table and give a cordial nod before walking to my car. The product I endorse serves as comfort for those long, studious nights – and the possibility of free drinks, a motivation.
written for The Daily Post, Daily Prompt: The Cat Says Meow