Faaaaaccckkk! I'm late!
The clock which seemed to have barely moved for the previous hour and a half, was now showing that I had 30 minutes to get to my meeting.
How did it get so late!?
I had thought about leaving at 9:30, but then I would have been too early (and I hate being too early). This had become a pattern with me. I futz around on Facebook or go through emails when I ever have "a few minutes to kill" rather then leaving a little early -- and then the next thing I know I'm running late.
This has to stop!
But right now, I really need coffee.
I jumped in my car and screeched out of my driveway, grateful that there was a Coffee Bean on the way to the meeting.
I'll stop there ONLY if it's easy to park in their lot or if I find a meter. Otherwise I'll just go straight to the meeting.
Congratulating myself on the fair and rational deal that I'd just made, I found myself speeding through a stop sign and then slamming on my brakes in the middle of the intersection. Out of the corner of my eye, I observed two startled, pony tailed moms, entering the crosswalk with twin, navy blue and white, Mima Xari strollers.
"Sorry!" I yelled back toward them as I gunned the accelerator.
One of them shouted something unintelligible after me, flailing her arms over her head. I shrugged as I waved to her in my rear view.
"Sorry," I whispered.
Thin, trickles of sweat tickled me as they dripped down from my armpits onto bare my waist and stomach under my shirt. I raised my arm again and tilted my head so that I could see my underarm in the rear view. My thin, white, button-down shirt was already see-through with perspiration. I lowered my arm quickly.
The light at Ventura and Whitsett took forever to turn. From my vantage point though, I could see that The Coffee Bean looked relatively empty.
Thank the Lord! Hurry up light!!!
But when the light turned and I rounded the corner to the parking lot, I could see that the lot was completely full -- all except for one space tucked all the way in the corner by the "exit only" sign.
Exit only? Is that new?
I considered entering there anyway, but thought better of it. I would have to go all the way around the block and enter from the other side.
Where are all of these people?!? There's NO ONE in the Coffee Bean, but the parking lot is full!
I gave my blind spot a cursory glance before I whipped my car into a mid-street, illegal U-turn. Someone honked and I heard brakes crying out as I crossed a second solid, yellow line. I stared straight ahead and kept going, looking for open parking meters and glancing at my car clock as I put on my right turn signal.
"You're speaking today," I said out loud, under my breath. "This is madness, Laura. Just go straight to the meeting. You'll never make it by 10:30."
Okay, if that spot is gone by the time I get around there, then I'll just go straight to the meeting.
I whooped out loud as I rounded the corner.
It's still there!!
"YESSSSS! I get coffee!!!"
I did a little "I get coffee dance" in my seat as I raced toward the empty spot.
"YES! I get coo-ffee, YES! I get coo-ffee!"
I was 10 or 12 feet away from the space, when a small, red Nissan darted into the "exit only" entrance (Yes, the one that I had passed up!) and zoomed right into my spot.
I quickly pulled up to the car, fully prepared to get out and pound on this unbelievable ass#ole.
His plates are green! He's not even from here!
When I got right up behind his car, I could see that they were Colorado plates.
You Colorado Fuc#@er!!! You took my spot!!!
I could see him sitting there in the car. He wasn't looking around. He wasn't moving.
I hit the accelerator and zoomed out of the parking lot, pulling around the block again.
Fu@#! Still NO METERS!
When I re-entered the parking lot, I saw a Prius pulling out of a spot across from the red Nissan. I raced over it.
You're ridiculous! Having a cup of coffee isn't worth keeping everyone waiting. Don't get out of the car! Just keep going to the meeting! You can still make it on time!
I shook my head so that I could concentrate on wedging my truck into the Prius's "compact" space. When I banged the door, open, I fell off the running-board, catching myself on the seat belt and stubbing my toe on the cement, parking bumper.
I slammed the door shut without locking it and ran inside the Coffee Bean. I was immediately hit by the cool air and jazzy music. Catching my reflection in the large, plate-glass window, I realized that I was running in full stride. I slowed down to a trot. All of the inside tables sat empty.
No customers!! Yay!
I did a little internal happy dance.
Oh wait! There's someone at the counter...
Instinctually, I looked outside and saw that the red Nissan was empty now.
"Welcome to Coffee Bean," I heard the cashier say. "What can I get you today?"
Colorado was standing at the counter with his back to me. I strained to see his face so I could "mad dog" him, but he stayed facing forward.
"Well, actually this is my first time at a Coffee Bean," he laughed casually.
WHAT?!?? OH HELL NO COLORADO!!!!!! You've never been to a Coffee Bean?!?
"So, do you guys sell food or just coffee?" His nasally voice was a squeaky balloon. I felt myself grinding my teeth.
What do you MEAN?? Its Coffee Bean! They don't (well they didn't then) sell FOOD. You come here for COFFEE!
"We don't really sell food," answered the cashier. "There are a few things in the case, mainly pastries and stuff. We have yogurt too."
"No hot food, eh?"
ORDER A COFFEE!!
"No, sorry," she said.
"Oh, well... let me see here." He lifted his gaze to the coffee menu overhead. He made small, furry animal sounds while he pondered.
I inched closer toward the back of his neck. He wore a light blue, short-sleeved, knit polo shirt. He was shorter than me. His wispy brown hair feathered down to a blunt line above his collar, like he had a fresh haircut. I could smell 1980s after shave on his skin. I felt myself getting sick to my stomach. I wondered if he could feel my breath on his neck. I took a small step back.
"Medium Americano with 2 Sugar In The Raws, 2 Splenda's and room for cream..."
I chanted my Coffee Bean order over and over under my breath.
Please, please Colorado!! Please order! Order anything!!
"I guess I'll just have a black coffee," he said finally.
I threw my arms up involuntarily.
Seriously?!?? All that for a Fu@#in' BLACK COFFEE?!
I raced out of Coffee Bean with my Americano, securing the lid as I ran. Scalding hot droplets seared the thumb and index finger that held the cup. But the adrenaline that was coursing through me acted as a pain killer. I licked the drops off my hand like ice-cream as I hopped into my car.
I bolted through the door as they were reading the preamble. The meeting secretary gave me a happy "You Made It" look and motioned for me to come to where she was sitting. The older gentleman who sat beside her moved to another seat when she whispered something to him. I stepped through the circle of chairs and sat down next to her, giving her a brief hug.
"Sorry," I whispered, putting my hand over my heart.
"Don't worry about it," she said, patting my thigh and handing me a sheet of paper. "You're right on time." She pointed to a line on the sheet.
"Start reading here, ok?"
I nodded, as I fished my glasses out of my purse.
"Are there any newcomers here today?" I read aloud, setting my coffee down on the floor next to me.
Someone cleared his throat from the back of the room. "I guess that would be me."
I looked up to welcome him, but his face was obscured by the big-headed man seated in front of him. It wasn't until he stepped forward to take his "new comer" chip, that I saw the Coffee Bean cup in his hand.
"Hi, I'm 'Bob' and I'm new to program and I'm also here visiting from Colorado."
"Hi Bob!!!" said the room in unison. "Welcome!"
I closed my eyes for a moment against the laugh that was coming up my throat.
I AM SO GRATEFUL that I didn't say anything to him or do any of those things that I wanted to do! THANK - YOU - UNIVERSE!!!
"Hi Bob," I said out loud. "Welcome, we're glad you're here."
Please share this post with anyone who has trouble getting out of the house on time (maybe it can serve as a cautionary tale!) Also, please share you're own"leaving too late" experiences with me in the comments. Thank you!