I use habit and routine to make my life possible.

Oh my freaking hell - my morning routine is in a heap of fire at the bottom of a cliff.

I usually go to this small corner store on the right as I exit my neighborhood. I go for coffee. Only coffee. Every morning. Exit the car, 95 cents in hand, enter the store, set the money on the counter, smile at store clerk (sometimes I wave), get coffee, "Have a good morning" I say, "You too" he says, exit store, drive away. The clerk rarely speaks to me but always smiles. We acknowledge each others presence but he has somehow figured out I am incoherent at this hour. It might have happened during some rambling moment in the AM when I tried to talk. Didn't work. No need to try young lady, I am here with smiles, silently says the clerk. We know our roles and play them out every day the same way. I stand at the coffee counter and listen to his radio tuned into NPR news while I stir the sugar. I fumble with the coffee lids. I occasionally miss the wastebasket and must clean up after myself, because I am not a rude patron, just a clumsy one. I even know the contents underneath the counter as I have to replace items used up every so often. I can help; I like to help.
I enjoy this ten minutes of monotony; our casual coffee customer clerk exchange, sets forth my day, every damn day.


Last week I walk in and there was a new guy standing behind the counter. He is young and I can't understand a fucking word coming out of his mouth. How do I know I can't understand him, ooooooooo because new guy is chatty with questions. Who asks questions at 7:15AM, WHO?! New guy does not smile at me. New guy charges 1.06 for coffee. New guy rearranged the cabinets and does not like the same coffee cups MY GUY used to carry. New guys does not listen to NPR.
So I have been trying. Trying HARD to adjust but every morning I stand at the counter trying to come up with a new game plan for exiting the store amid the hollow echoing of my own thoughts. I can only manage to fumble spurting out various groups of words in response to New Guy, who must think I am a retard with Tourette's for the nonsense I have spoken already. I mean, my brain tries to answer logically but my mouth says things like, "red pandas" and "fascism fucking hurts". I wish I were joking. There is no other store on the right side of the road on the way to work. This is it for me. This is my store, so love it or hate it, I have to go there, for to turn left and go to 7-11, well thats madness. I am not going to last through the summer, I was sure of it.

And then it happened. The thing that changes everything.

I walked in this morning to New Guy having a heated discussion with some Random Customer. Random Customer was not happy, angrily gathering his change from the counter, while mumbling things only he and New Guy could hear. I instantly felt like yelling "ADJUST MOTHER FUCKER, WE ARE ALL SUFFERING!" when Random Customer screamed he would never be back and stomped out of the store like a child. Dick. Something in me cried for New Guy and as I stirred the sugar, I made my mind up to try harder. What was I going to do, 7-11 is OUT of the question, I can't wake up early enough to make coffee nor bother to learn the individual settings that allow a pot to brew as I am getting ready for work (please), they are not going to build another store on the right hand side of the road in between me and work, so me and New Guy - we are in it for the long haul.
I thought "I got your back my new friend", smiled twice as large at him and walked out of the store so elated I almost executed a Judd Nelson Fist to the Sky in the parking lot.
Almost. It was still too early.

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