“Hel-lo!” sings the barista wearing the red tee shirt, straight, brunette hair, and sporadic ink on both arms as the guy in the black knit cap and white tee shirt walks in on a 72-degree day. Keys dangling from a belt loop on black jeans that are cuffed twice over a pair of black Nike’s. No socks.
“Couple things,” he says, walking up the counter, within reach of a clear display tempting you with Apple Cider Donuts and fresh, doughy bagels. “Is it possible to own a business in the South Side without having an open storefront where the wind can blow in? See, even the barber shop has an open store front now. All that hair going out into the ether… it’s great!” He pauses in front of the cooler, eyes the freshly pressed, organic, raw juices on the shelves. Mint green, baby blue, pink, and yellow juices with ingredients like activated charcoal, lavender infused water, cayenne, and colloidal silver that will set you back thirteen bucks. Below them, the five-dollar shelf sits empty. “Which one do you recommend?”
“Do you like bean juices?” she asks.
“Uh, yeah,” he says, “But I can’t afford thirteen bucks just to feel slightly better.”
“The witches brew is good,” she says, leaning on the counter.
“That’s what I remember. Something involving a witch,” he says, lifting his arms up and down as if he’s about to ascend into high altitude.
“Witches bitches,” she giggles.
“Was it busy today?” he asks.
“It was busy this morning,” she replies.
“Better get out the coffee cup costume,” he says. “Start dancing for people. Ooh, are you making it fancy for me? I’ve never had coffee in a mug.”
“Do you take cream sir?” she asks in an English accent, mid pour.
“Yes, I do…because I don’t care about the purity of the bean,” he replies, keys still jangling as he glances over at a collection of colorful announcements tacked to the wall near the front door. “I see your… what’s it called? Your poster and flyer section is booming.”
“Oh yeah,” she giggles.
“Lots of useless events going on in Pittsburgh,” he says. “Where’s Highmark Stadium?”
“I don’t know,” she replies.
“It says Craft Beer and Punk Rock,” he says, reading one of the flyers. “Two things I don’t want any part of anymore in my life. I want gin and low-key hip hop these days. Can you believe like, I had bullet belts and mohawks and everything? I have never seen No Offense live. I guarantee those tickets are like, forty five hundred dollars.”
“I know,” she giggles. “It sucks. A lot of those shows would be so fun to go to, but the tickets are like, so much.”
“Those cerebral, anti-religion punks just depress me now. They’re like, so old. There’s got to be a new crop of kid hating God these days. Do you like these jeans?” he asks, changing subjects. “I ordered a hundred thirty dollars worth of jeans online. Ask me how badly they fit. How badly they made me feel about my body. I got them at H&M. Where else am I supposed to buy them? When I think of Levi’s, I think of… rugged. There should just be a big tag on the back that says, Rugged. It’s frustrating. I hate buying pants.”
“I know,” she groans. “It really sucks.”
The "Our Stories" series is an ongoing writing project by Kate Benz.
Capturing a moment in time in our everyday lives.
Raw. Real. Honest.