The truck out the window reads “good for the earth” in white on blue. It’s small flashing yellow sidelights beaconing in the grey- it’s early morning, the time of school kids starting out on their long walk, the people who open offices, those who open coffee joints, and dawn-lovers like me.
In Manhattan, the bagel cart guys are all ready with huge chargers of coffee and pre-cream-cheesed bagels all in a row. I worry about the Polish guy who supplies my workaday bagel; he has no heater in his 9 foot by 4 foot metal trailer. He takes up most of it, standing close to the steaming coffee, parked outside the moviestar Penelope Cruz’s new clothing line, the flagship store. When I rummage around in my bag for change longer than usual, he tells me to pay him tomorrow or next week. In Brooklyn, the bagel guy hasn’t delivered to this cafe yet.
Someone’s smoking outside, leaning on the bench and the big window under the awning. I’ve quit. It’s freezing from the thin sheets of black ice water on all the concrete. It’s sort of raining; the Hasidic women carry black umbrellas. The January weather comes in through the open door into the golden inside. The tabletops are sunflower colored vinyl, two with green block prints of garlic bulbs tumbling in and out of wavering brown grasses. The coffee is organically grown, fair trade, bottomless cup. The woman’s voice through the speakers sings in Hindi then there’s soft chanting over lingering cords on mystical instruments.
The smoker is a woman, red-haired long-haired woman who strides past the door in a scarlet velvet coat wrapping her waist and swirling around her boot tops.