I buy coffee every morning at a small cafe near my house.
The coffee is much too acid for my taste, but I buy twenty ounces anyway, because I like to be supportive.
The cafe is on Foster, a street that needs a great deal of support.
The cafe is not very cute, despite some effort from the owner, a man I suspect is about my age, but looks older, with a bald head and an unfortunate beard.
He wears hats most of the time, felt fedoras beige and loden.
He is a darter and and lacks charm.
He parks wonky and makes it challenging for me to get in and out of the gravel parking lot.
The whole place is a small L shaped room, with a restroom tucked into the corner.
Homeless people try valiantly to use the restroom and the staff, grumble at them to purchase something.
I watch this exchange almost every morning.
There was a very large homeless camp in the large gravel parking lot, but a developer bought most of the lot last year and put up a chain link fence.
So now most of the campers are more covert, slipping under hedgerows after dark.
Foster is one of the last ungentrified stretches of old Portland.
A place with wide unencumbered streets with plenty of parking, and run down buildings, with interesting storefronts.
The inside of my charmless cafe, suffers from an identity crisis.
The tables look as though they were meant to sit outside in a beach town.
Round with orange mosaic tile.
The mosaic tile tables were no doubt purchased from a big box store and cheaply made somewhere with shameful human rights practices.
It is one of those things you can just tell about things.
There are pastries in a plexiglass case, which looks a little old, even at 6:45am.
There are also breakfast sandwiches, which people seem fond of.
Some mornings there are several people ahead of me, and two or three invariably order a sandwich.
Usually the ponytail guy and the mail carrier woman.
They may think of me as impatient, frumpy, red lipstick lady, or messy bun, zaftig, gal, who knows.
I always ask if I can cut ahead and grab just a coffee, and they always let me.
There are two fellows that work the counter, both named Andy.
I call the dark haired one Jimmy, because he looks like Jimmy from Quadrophenia.
The other Andy is tall and skinny and appears to cut his own blonde hair with clippers, and I think of him as Shawn, because he looks like my friend Shawn did in 1984.
They like to play jazz and I like to surprise them with a tiny bit of jazz recognition.
This morning Jimmy asked me again why I call him Jimmy and we had a nice laugh over Quadrophenia.
Jimmy is from Salem and plays in a band.
Shawn is from someplace more sophisticated and has the demeanor of someone that studied philosophy, or maybe comparative literature.
Shawn never greets me, but Jimmy always does.
I'm not really keen on sales people calling me by name, but coming from him, it feels ok.
He is just on the very edge of smarmy, but he pulls it off well.
We talk about the changing neighborhood often, and about food service, and a little about movies and music.
I have precisely the taste in movies, books and music that arty school drop out boys have, so it works well.