Where Are You Going Now?June 14, 2011
When I was an undergrad, I worked at a independent coffee house to pay the bills. It was a great job – 4 P.M. to 11 P.M. with no supervision and plenty of tips if I could muster sufficient charm for the repeat customers. As you can imagine, my friends would routinely use the place as a hangout since not only was the coffee free, but the neighborhood was generally fun. The only downside was that I had to clean and close the place myself. This took about an hour, and it could get somewhat creepy since the cafe was mostly underground, and the rest of the local businesses – save for a pizza shop around the corner – closed around 9. But most of the time somebody would hang around to help me close.
Vacuuming alone was the worst. I always hated that one of my senses was effectively turned off while my back was to the door to the street – a glass affair that sat at the bottom of a concrete staircase. I would always imagine that I’d look up and – BAM – somebody would be standing there ready to take the easy money from the cafe, with me in his way. Never happened.
The worst part was that bank of switches that controlled the lights was in the “back” by the counter. After throwing the cafe into total darkness, I had to walk the length of the building towards door and standing on a small landing, I would unlock the door to let myself out. The corner of the landing was the darkest part of the cafe – absolutely no illumination from streetlight through tiny windows, nothing. Just inky blackness and total silence. It was awful standing there for even the few seconds it took to unlock the door if I really got the ‘ol imagination going.
One night I’m fumbling with the keys, and I hear a barely audible but absolutely clear whisper from the corner, “So where you going now?” After screaming like mad and practically kicking the door down, I managed to get outside to the staircase leading up to the street. It took everything in me to turn around, face the glass door, and relock it before getting the fuck out of there.