The Picture of Professionalism

by Esther Elizabeth Suson

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been ensuring I wake up and work by heading to a Starbucks in Ortigas. The Starbucks opens at 7am, which makes it a perfect place for a slacker freelance writer to make sure she finishes her hours for the week. Lately, I’ve been arriving just after 7am, grabbing the warmest spot in the room (but freezing anyway).

That spot happens to be right at the end of a long bench against the wall, which is in itself perpendicular to three pairs of couches with their own coffee tables. They are right by the window, each pair arranged so that one faces the window and the other has his back to it.

For two days in a row, I was in Starbucks just as the clock struck 7:10. By 7:15, I was usually in place, right by the couches. And for two days in a row, I saw a businessman – not the same one per day – come up with a venti cup of coffee, sit in one of the couches, and – without even sipping his coffee – go to seep.

Each businessman was in full formal clothing: a well-cut coat of black or dark blue material, a button-down polo, a tie, black slacks and dress shoes. Each held a black leather briefcase. Neither of them were young, they had none of that brash showiness. They did walk with the upright step of men used to handling themselves.

In any other place, they would have looked powerful; well-dressed men with black leather briefcases always do. And yet, there was something so human about them when they just sat down and slept, without even a pause to drink. They were probably there early to beat the traffic and stay on time for the day’s schedules.

Each woke up without an alarm, with that sudden starting-up of people jolted by their subconscious. Each glanced at his wristwatch, picked up his cup of coffee and his briefcase, and strode out of the Starbucks.

Anyone on the outside would see a businessman who had just grabbed his cup of coffee before work.

Anyone on our side, however, would have seen where they allowed the stress to drain away from the surface, so they could hold their heads high and stride out to whispers of, They make it look so easy.

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