It's been almost two weeks now and I haven't told my wife yet that I've been fired from my "photocopy guy" job at the accounting firm. I still take the subway with her every morning as she goes to her own job, but after getting off at my station, I don't go to the accounting firm but straight to the Metro Café nearby where I spend the rest of my day.
I don’t have any money to buy anything in the café. In fact, for the first few days, I just sat at a table by myself and stared at the wall from 9am to 5pm, as the café staff asked me hourly if I wanted anything and I softly replied no every time. At 5pm, I quietly walked out and met up with my wife aboard the subway and no one was the wiser.
After five days of sitting and doing nothing for eight straight hours, I found my days were getting slightly tedious so I started bringing my lunch to have something to do when 12 noon rolled around.
This past Monday, I decided to leave for a twenty minute walk whereupon I came across a garage sale. For three dollars and fifty cents I purchased a large wood easel, some framed canvases and some oil paints. I also bought a sizeable toy wagon for two dollars and used it to pull my new purchases away. I then proceeded to set up my new easel and canvases in the corner of the café and painted for the rest of the day, with the café staff still asking me hourly if I wanted to buy anything and me responding no as I painted away. Every day since, I've added more garage sale purchases to my corner. Just yesterday I bought a mammoth and unwieldy rear projection television from the 1970s with towering rabbit ear antennas and a Betamax VCR with Strawberry Shortcake videos from the 1980s. At the end of the day, I just roll all my belongings to the alley behind the café and hide them under mounds and mounds of restaurant garbage.
This morning the café manager walked up to me as I was sweating up a flood on my garage sale, twenty-year-old treadmill.
CAFÉ MANAGER: You're going to have to leave. Your treadmill is using up all our power.
ME: You've got to be kidding me. I'm trying to get back in shape over here.
CAFÉ MANAGER: We have been very patient with you and your idiosyncrasies but it’s been almost two weeks and you’ve yet to buy anything.
ME: Well, what’ve you got? I could really use a secondhand espresso machine in my little corner over here.
CAFÉ MANAGER: Sir, we do not sale used appliances. In fact, you have so much of your own appliances in here, there’s barely any room left for our clientele. And many of them have complained that they can’t hear each other chatting when you watch Strawberry Shortcake at full volume.
ME: Well no one should be chit chatting while Strawberry Shortcake is dropping some wisdom. It’s berry rude.
CAFÉ MANAGER: Basically, you’re creeping everyone out and because of you, I’ve lost half a dozen employees and seventy percent of my clientele.
ME: I’m out of here. I don’t need all this attitude. Not when I’m trying to make a life for myself in this little corner over here.
I jumped off the treadmill, pulled the plug and pushed it toward the exit, as the treadmill's steel caster wheels heavily gouged the café’s hardwood floor.
ME: Well I hope you’re happy, ’cause you just lost my business.
I pushed my treadmill, and pulled my wagon which held my TV and the rest of my junk, down the street toward the Urban Coffee Shop. Inside the shop, I plugged in my treadmill and continued my workout.
I turned to the staff behind the coffee bar, who all stared at me bug-eyed, and with lower jaws dropped, as I huffed and puffed. I had to order something, or they'd kick me out.
ME (loudly through my heavy breathing): I’ll like to order a water. But not the one that comes in a plastic bottle that I have to pay for. I want the one that comes from the tap that’s free.