I walked in and looked around, wondering if somehow I could spot him. I had no idea what he looked like. Only a faint memory of his awkward sounding voice echoed in my memory. I got in line to get something to drink to entertain my taste buds while I waited. I sat by the windows, making sure I looked a little lost and attentive, so as to make it obvious that it was me he was looking at when he saw me.
A variety of men had walked through the door, and I wondered what I looked like to them each time I made eye contact. I'd get these creepy stares from men who maybe thought I was checking them out, and then there were the looks from middle aged white men that plainly communicated, "what are you crazy!", as if I were out of my mind for trying to pick them up. I began to wonder if this is what people think of when they first meet me, see me, or as I approach people for the first time, "is she trying to get to me?" I took a gulp of my tangy orange juice and decided to stop making eye contact and tried to identify them by what they were carrying. It was supposed to be a power adapter. Could it be the Asian man with the plastic bag in his hands? I looked closer and through it I noticed the pear stems trying to push and poke through the almost see through bag. Maybe the younger white man with his backpack. I made sure this time I didn't make eye contact, but I noticed him getting his coffee and sitting down about to read something. No, he didn't seem to be looking for anyone. Hmm, the older Black man about to walk out with his suitcase? What if that was him? He had aready left and I might have missed him! I twisted the lid back on the bottle and reached into my purse for my phone. I waited to hear that awkward sounding voice again among the other messages. I found it and almost forgot how slowly he gave me the 10 digits of his phone number, making it harder for me to memorize and dial right away. I realized it was only 11:58am, and we agreed to meet at 12pm. I called him anyway. Just in case.
"Laura?" He answered right away. He had saved my number on his phone I suspect. "Yea, I'm here already, are you on your way?" "Yea, I'm within five minutes away, around the corner." "Okay, I'll be here." "Okay. What are you wearing?" It suddenly occured to me that as soon as he walked in, he would be looking at my body. This was how he was going to identify me. I'm glad it was cold outside and I was in layers. "Umm, some brown pants, a black sweater, and a blue shirt inside. I'll be sitting right next to the windows." I said, hoping he'd spot me that way before he gave attention to my physical appearance. Ok. So now I didn't have to look anymore. I made sure I finished my juice so that all I had to do was buy the thing and leave and not deal with anything else that might come with this meeting.
He took longer than five minutes. He spotted me right away with a smile and that look. I took my hand out to be polite, "Hi, I'm Laura, thanks for comming through." "Oh no problem! You didn't tell me you were so cute!" Oh god. Why. Now I really just wanted to leave, but I really needed this thing. I had a paper to type up, work to get done. Usually in these types of scenarios, I'd say something smart, sarcastic, or stupid like, "Oh I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you I was wearing my face" and then leave. But I don't have that choice right now. "Actually, I was hoping you weren't going to show up. I raised the price to eighty dollars today, but I'll honor the sixty five dollars I first posted on the ad," he said. He handed it to me and I inspected it. Making sure it didn't look busted and worn out. "They broke into my job and stole our computers so we have all this left over new stuff we don't need." It sure looked brand new. And he hadn't paid a cent for it. I had just overdrawn on my account to get rent paid for this month, and this guy was capitalizing on me. Whatever. I'm used to this kind of thing. I notice these details all the time. I reached into my wallet for the money, as he talked to me about his on the side gig of fixing up computers for gaming. It sounded like an innovative idea that took alot of work. A good hustle. Especially knowing that there are alot of heavy gamers out there these days. I wasn't one of them. Not interested. I gave him the money and he counted it. "Sixty five, right?"
I took my jacket off the back of my chair and stood up to put it on. "So, do you have a boyfriend? Are you married?" I knew it was comming. At what point in the conversation did I indicate any level of interest in him or what he does that would make me want to continue this conversation any further? Sometimes I wish I weren't so polite. People take it the wrong way almost all the time. I can almost feel it. When they try to read into your face like you couldn't possibly speak for yourself if you were interested, so your face has to do it for you. So I guess he imagined my face telling him something that wasn't real. "Actually I'm leaving California for good soon so I'm not trying to hook up with anybody. I gotta go now. That's my bike out there," I said, making sure he knows off the back that I don't need a ride anywhere. He asks anyway, "so where do you live?" "On the other side of town," I say vaguely, trying to keep it moving. "Let me walk you to your bike." Walk me to my bike? He's going to keep trying isn't he. He gets up and grabs his open case of computer software and hardware peices, "Oh watch out!" I said, and it all comes spilling out onto the floor. I thought about helping him pick the stuff up, but I imagined his hands trying to touch mine or something. I don't know who this guy is, and his energy feels kind of creepy. So I look for the trash instead and toss my empty bottle of orange juice. He waits for me by the door and we walk out. He opens one door, I open a different one and let myself out. As I untangle my bike, locked and twisted with a bike cord onto the parking meter, he gives me that look. Before he starts to say something I cut him off, "alright, well, thanks for the deal. You take care and good luck with the side hussle on the gaming." I hop on my bike and leave him without a choice. "Thanks.. uh.. bye!"