2011-03-09: The Human Caffedition



Date: March 9th, 2011


There's a little coffee, a little inspiration, a couple doctorates, and too many people. Another night in New York. With coffee.

"The Human Caffedition"

Starbucks, Midtown

It's the evening of March 9th and Starbucks has been buzzing with people. All the patrons seem deadset on getting their orders and rushing him for that evening most New Yorkers enjoy so much. Which is why Seth came early, being out of lecture only an hour ago, he came at just the right time before the rush. Which gave him plenty of time to grab a booth near enough to the counter to get what he needed, though far enough away to allow him to work on what looks to be a very large paper. Books are in various states of open though it's clear by the titles that all of them are based around the Sociological topic of Gender and Inequality.

Into this arena of excess and expresso, the tiny overworked chime at the corner of the entrance releases a Daniel — and he could not look more like he stepped into the wrong building. To open, a somewhat flabbergasted expression on her face, slackening a mouth below thick-framed glasses that trend perilously low along his nose. He hasn't a hand to recover them: one, appearing to both be intertwined within his own black and white-striped scarf and cuddling a number of post-it flagged tomes, the other, its forefinger tucked to keep his place in the singular novel clenched along his lower arm, notched against his elbow so carefully — and, so precariously.

Shuffling a few wary steps, he blinks owlishly behind his lens with general skepticism for many patrons much louder, larger, and more caffeinated than him. Each step means curving his body here and there at what must be awkward angles, but go very purposefully out of his way to avoid brushing, bumping, or blustering into anyone else. It's a strange spectacle of juggling, ignored by residents long made unaffected by the city.

Also, one of his shoes might be untied.

When the bell rings, this time Seth actually looks up to spot the seemingly odd sight of Daniel shuffling into the establishment. He looks quite interested as he follows the general motions of Daniel as he seems completely chaotic. It's almost like Seth is expecting the man to trip or something has his expression shifts to that of a nervous parent watching their child's first steps. He cringes as he looks down to see the man's shoe is untied. Somehow this looks like one of those scene that never ends well.
Yet the more Daniel's squirming progresses him into the coffee house, the less random it looks; or more likely, the more practiced. In and out. Blinking, squinted eyes pick up on a young student as her weight shifts, and he's able to swing around her without colliding — miraculously, the shoelace so far follows suit, slithering like a live thing along the floor, and out from underfoot. He senses another couple about to rise from their table and stops up short, his sucked in stomach providing a resting place for books to keep them from being knocked about from the same stray movements.

It isn't until, on one of those strange internal cues, he glances up directly to note Seth's staring… that a bulky, plaid-jacket wearing patron heaves off from the pick-up counter, grumbling very loudly about his wait time, creates the inevitable collision. There's a thump where Daniel's clearly skinnier frame folds — even more than the bump might dictate. Cup-holder wobbling, one of the drinks in the bulky man's hands surrenders to the cliche. It tips over, dropping an oddly-named-serving-size of brown coffee onto Daniel's grey-toned ensemble. In an effort to preserve books and papers from the same fate, they're flung aside to the closest table, leaving his clothes to be completely drenched down the front.

"Hey!" The standard New Yorkian shouts, rattling the other three unspilled drinks at the unfortunate young man, "Look what you just fucking did!"

Seth, following Daniel's every moves, seems taken by all the happens that has persisted. Watching tentatively as Daniel seems to avoid various obstructions before that faithful New Yorker spills the coffee on the poor man. Seth grumbles lightly seeming to whisper something to himself before standing up to go over to offer a hand up to the fallen patron before looking back at the irritated New Yorker. "Hey, you. I saw the whole thing, you practically flung yourself at the poor man. Now shove off before I bloody well spill the last bits you still have all over the front of you!" Yep, his accent is clearly Irish and being quite bold with the sudden act of defending the clumzy man. He looks back over to Daniel saying, "Are you alright?"

"Who tha' hell are you?!" That bear-sized man wants to know but — despite his intimidating size — he balks reluctantly at keeping a confrontation with a yeller in front of a dozen other time-consumed patrons. So, muttering and swearing, he takes off with the remains of his large coffee order, leaving a very nice imprint of the tread of his shoe in the liquid pooling on the floor. Though miraculously still on his feet, Daniel appears to be doing his best and greatest impression of a turtle, his lanky body curled to diminish his size and his palms pointed out, yet kept tucked near his chest. Some kind of muttering — apologies, assurances — fades as Seth approaches.

Beadily, those eyes peek out, as he straightens amidst the soon uncaring crowd. A little sniff flares his nostril, which is about as animated as he becomes. With a bleary disposition, he lifts the bottom of his fitted grey sweater, curling the fabric to rub his thumb over where the fabric has completely absorbed the coffee. "It'll stain," he observes, very practical, at last.

Lucky for Seth, the bear-sized man seems to get only slightly more irritated before he balks. It seems that Seth only get a little nervous as, somehow out of nowhere, the remainder of the fallen coffee cup constructs releasing the rest of the internal coffee into the floor. It's only when Daniel speaks of the coffee staining that Seth waves a hand toward the man. "No, I'm sure with a little chemical compostion you could get it out. Maybe one of my graduate buddies could cook you up something at the university?" He tilts his head looking empathetic toward the seemingly innocent young man. "I'm Seth Greene by the way, but you can all me Seth." He then promptly offer a hand to Daniel with a friendly look upon his face.

"N-No… " Daniel's head pops up on his thought, mouth working in what is undue hurry to correct a really rather trivial point, "— what I mean is— I won't do anything about it. It'll stain. I'd be a little… wary of anything 'cooked up' at a university… uhh…" Collecting his mind together means he lifts the side of his finger to nudge his glasses onto the bridge of his nose and, an exact second later, realizes this freedom of hands means he's left his things about to be carelessly nudged around by anyone in New York ever who wants coffee. This means that, as Seth's hand is being offered, Daniel is scurrying amongst the table and chair nearby, skirting furniture to reach for dropped books — scattered papers; Criminal Justice. The top book is really a report on something called the Stanford Prison Experiment before Daniel's hand drapes over the title. "… Doctor…" He greets, returning to Seth's side with all of those items tucked in an unorganized heap under one arm. "That is— I'm a doctor. My name's Daniel. And, I need to go get a napkin right now."

Seth waves a hand dismissively before motioning toward the counter. "Sure, no problem. I totally understand being wary of the chemistry majors." He then watches as Daniel hurries in finding all his things seeming almost slightly entertained by his frantic motions. When the doctor gets back Seth says, "Oh, I'm going to be a doctor too. That is this May… I just need to present my dissertation to the board." He then looks over at a nearby table quickly moving to retrieve a napkin for Doctor Daniel. "Here you are mate…" He then looks over toward the counter before saying, "How about this Doctor Daniel, how about I buy you your order? Least I can do for someone having such a day as yourself…"

Staring, Daniel's glasses slip down. With a perfunctory pluck, he takes the offered napkin, wrestling his own fingers to fold it a couple of times and then run the expendable material over his sweater. It's absorbed a lot of the liquid, but some of it sponges out where he applies pressure. "Are you? That's… very interesting…" Absent, generic: the response could seem non-genuine, but the so-called Doctor Daniel manages a smooth tone that conveys the exact meaning; he finds it interesting, and Seth by proxy. Though, it's a careful and distant proxy, where he stays some personal distance from Seth, even as he glances up at the offer of a drink. "I'm not having a 'day'…" Half behind falling glasses, his books a mess under his arm, with greying sweater now an extremely unappetizing combination of that and soaked brown… he manages to state, completely sincere, "I like it here."

Seth watches a bit confused as Daniel replies to him before tilting his head observing Daniel's motions. "No doubt you like it here, Doctor Daniel. I'm just saying the fact you have coffee all over yourself gives me a sign that maybe you need a break from this luck streak of the day. That's all…"
"Oh! Umm…" With the napkin tucked into his palm, Daniel overturns the bottom, drenched, edge of the sweater for Seth to see, as though its state were unclear, somehow, to the other man. "This is actually more than I usually have— I don't drink coffee, you see." A little embarrassed, maybe, to admit this in the middle of a huge crowd of coffee-drinkers. In a coffee shop. "I just… like it here."

Seth chuckles and nods at Daniel before looking back the attendant nodding his head. He then gestures to the nearby table, "Well that's completely fine. I love the crowd that typically hangs out here. They make me feel like my life is important and typically keep me sane through the tough trials of my typical week." He looks around with chuckle, "Actually, I should thank them when my paper is published. They're part of the reason I got through NYU."

"We never act merely alone," proposes Daniel in soft agreement as he trails behind Seth more akin to a puppy than an acquaintance, "It's impossible not to connect, whether positive or negative." Relieved at the table, he's able to dock some of his belongings there, giving him the extra hand needed to get some of them back in order after the fall. The napkin's been left at the wayside. Distractedly eyeing all of this, he poses as if casually, "Why would your life not feel important…"

"Well, my life…" Seth looks back at Daniel seeming a bit lost as he himself sits opposite of his new found company for the evening. "I have been doing research and writing papers of injustice and inequality for so long. It's hard to think of how my life is really going to help or assist anyone other than filling the world with useless optimistic suggestions on how the world should be rather than what it is now." Seth looks down at the table idly tracing his fingers over it. "I'd like my life to have a higher purpose. To have some positive impact on the world, though some days I think the only positive impact I have is assisting in supporting this coffee shop from being closed down most days…"

Somewhere in Seth's speech, Daniel has glanced up and, idly knocking his glasses into place, his attentiveness behind lenses is secure — yet, with the same distance, trapped behind lenses. "So," he opens, finding rest for his fingers along the table edge, precarious and noncommittal. "Do you feel like writing papers isn't enough? That you're— compelled to do, outside of your zone? Sometimes, the preparation stage can take longer than we think, but help us more than we realize. And I don't think it should ever be said that optimism is a, oh… let's say, frivolous quality." His studious words, their somber sincerity, seem to add age to his boyish face. "But maybe if you are wont for direction… start with— how you would define a 'positive impact'."

Seth looks actually at Daniel before leaning back in his cafe chair. "Well you have a point. I think doing something with my degree it help the community might be a good thing. Being that I'm on my way to teaching, maybe then I will feel more fulfilled." He then grins at Daniel as he seems to like the other man's words. "You know, you're right. I really should look back at what I've done and look ahead to see what I can do to fill this need for a 'positive impact'. Who knows, maybe I will have some profound thought come to me while doing this." He the pauses before tapping at the table. "I like the way you think, very inspiring."

"Mostly it was just your thoughts already," Daniel explains, quite factually as if he were explaining a math problem Seth found interesting, instead of accepting a compliment, "I only engineered them to your purpose. Our minds are absurdly powerful controllers, really, even when we don't… ah… we don't always realize it. It isn't always the most profound ones that guide as, so much as— " in emphathetic gesture, he juts his hands, palms pointed together, along a speedy path through the air — and cuts across some of his own things, knocking already precarious papers off balance, "— that they're— " and he ambles distractedly to grab everything into a pile again, "pointed in the… same, ah— " plop, thump. Heavy book on top. His arms nearly encircle the belongings in another haphazard wrap. "Direction."

"Yes, well… great minds do think alike." Seth says with a grin upon his face. Seeming to be cheering up as the conversation ensues. He then gets a profound look of confusion as Daniel goes on to speak of how powerful their minds can be. He then flinches back watching Daniel stab through the air and slice right through his own things. It's only when Daniel finishes that Seth opens his mouth again, "Um… that's way deep into philosophy. It's actually quite a good observation of the human condition. Are you sure you're not some kind of genius or social based prodigy?"

Blinking through thick-rimmed glasses that keep wanting to fall askew, his arms wrapped awkwardly around his very unstably piled books and papers — the display crying out for a bag, please God — Daniel looks less than either of those things. "What's that?" And it's his turn to be confused. "No, of course not. I'm just the doctor." Beep beep beep beep! It's coming from Daniel's waist and it sounds pretty impatient. Obligingly, the proclaimed doctor — genius, prodigy? — maneuvers his stuff towards one arm so he can dig a pager out from under his soaked sweater bottom. The number there curls his eyebrows into thoughtful frowning. "I'm sorry— I'll have to owe you another— " his eyes meet Seth, staring to recall something off the other man's face, "This," he decides, "This another time. I'm needed in prison." Which is the effective exit line right before he hauls his things under one arm and organizes to weave back through the crowd the same, oddly quick, way he came in.

Seth leans forward offering a hand with any needed book saving and the like. It's when Daniel speaks of being a doctor that Seth chuckles. "See, most people would classify most doctors in the genius catagory." When Daniel seems in complete control of his books once again Seth proceeds to lean back in his chair once more. "Oh don't worry about it. If you have another engagement than you should attend to it." He then waves after the man before yelling to him, "See you around!"

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License