It’s a hot, late summer afternoon. I want something cold to drink. I’ve been thinking all morning about an iced cappucino (Tim Horton’s brand, to live up to Canadian stereotype).
I arrive. Blink.
Where the Tim Hortons’ used to be in the building is replaced by a scene of construction chaos. Exposed wiring, demolished concrete, and the bare bones of framing show where the store used to be. On the door into the area, a sign: “Tim Horton’s Temporarily Moved” with an arrow. I follow. Find the temporary location.
Not a real Tims’. It’s where the old cafeteria was, but the old cafeteria is closed for the summer, so it’s where they moved the Tim’s to – but it’s still a cafeteria, and there’s no Tim’s sign and the displays are wrong.
No matter, I tell myself. I can still get an iced cappuccino.
Grrrrrr. A grinder. Ka-lap, ka-lap, ka-lap. My feet. Muddled conversations. My fingers flutter in front of my face, a reaction to the change. My other hand spins my keys one direction, then another. Clink. Whooshwoooshwoosh. Clink.
I step into line. Put my hands by my side. No finger-flutters where people could see. Pocket my keys. Don’t want to hit anyone. Wait while a man changes his mind over and over again until I’m tempted to start quoting Monty Python at him (“Get on with it!”). Wait while a woman asks questions about the soup schedule. My turn.
I step up. “Do you ha-“
Eyes lock on mine. Frozen. Words feel like struggling through syrup as they work their way to my mouth.
“Do- do you – do you ha-” Rephrase. “Have you – Do you – Are you able to – er…” Pause. Collect. Think of the words. Think of the words. “Do you have…”
Words blocked again. In frustration, I make my hand into the shape it takes when I’m holding a drink. “Frozen.” Wrong. “Iced.” Closer.
“Iced cappucino?” the woman at the counter offers helpfully.
Relieved, I nod vigorously. “Yes, do have you that?”
Jumbled. Meaning clear anyway.
“No, sorry. Our machine isn’t working. We have cold drinks in the cooler, though, if you want.” She points.
Excuse to break eye contact. Take it. I look at the drinks. Nothing stands out. They’re not what I want. I want an iced cappuccino. I realize I probably sounded pretty strange earlier. Feel heat on my cheeks as I blush. “No, I have a water bottle at work.”
“Sorry about that,” she says.
“No worries,” I say, stealing a phrase from a Brit I used to work with. Then I channel his wife. “Not your fault. Laters!”
I leave, taking care not to lock eyes with anyone else as I go.