During the Eidl Fitr long weekend, a cousin treated us, her generational-level relatives, to Starbucks at Luisita, Tarlac. We were there to just grab coffee and go, since the grown-ups had already gone on ahead to the house.
When we were exiting the shop, our cousin turned and went back to get more paper napkins at the high round bar where the orders get picked-up. Staff scurried back and forth, none seeing her at the bar. Our cousin stood quietly, eyes scanning to see who might be free enough to help her out.
Waiting and watching, I noticed a young man leaning against the wall by the bar. He was of average height, for a guy, and of average body build, with the added sproinginess that young bodies have. A beige-dirt brown T-shirt hugged his torso lightly, while a beanie of the same shade pulled his hair off his face, the visible inch of it stretched back . His sling bag was the same color as both. He was altogether nondescript–but undeniably noticeable all the same.
From the moment he entered Starbucks, I noticed the difference. Maybe it was the way he ignored the menu, which is the first thing customers look at. Maybe it was the way he entered, not glancing around for a table or friend. And later, it was in the way he stood by the bar, sipping quietly at a frapp the same color as his clothing, leaning against the wall. No employee bothered that he was practically in the entrance to the counter. Ah, I thought. Staff off-duty.
However, he happened to be the only person around when our cousin was waiting at the bar. As she glanced around for help, the beige boy pulled his frapp from his mouth and leant forward. Our cousin answered his raised eyebrows and querying smile with her request, and he promptly reached over the bar and handed her a fair-sized stack of paper napkins. After a smiled welcome to her thanks, he returned to his frapp.