Refocusing Reality


Emma Bittner, Co Editor-in-Chief

I sat at a dark mahogany table with scratches along the edge on a three-legged stool that creaked with my every shift of weight. Sipping a cortado*, I glanced around me, taking in the busy cafe milling with people.

Behind me sat a table of six yoga moms, discussing their prodigy children and how they were already learning Spanish at daycare. Gloating over their vegetarian sandwiches, while they had a side of bacon. To my right a couple relaxed on the couch, chattering over a game of Scrabble. Arguing over whether “QI” actually was a word or not. And around me everyone sat on their phones, immersed in the latest tweet or snapchat filter.

One headphone dangled from my ear as I refocused my attention to the street just beyond the window in front of me. Cars flew down the frenetic street, people quickened their pace jogging past the crosswalk, and flotsam cornered the curbs. An older man caught my attention. He was wearing cream and brown plaid shorts that hung mid calf, with stained white sneakers, a red sweatshirt almost as long as his shorts with the hood up, covering his eyes. A torn glove on his left hand, exposing his fingers caked with dirt, and a bag in his right. His bag was odd, not the typical briefcase or grocery bag, yet made of clear plastic and help empty Fiji bottles, Starbucks cups, magazine clippings and cigarette cartons. Wobbling down the street with a slight limp, he made his way across the road between fleeing cars.

An older woman tossed her half-finished venti latte into a trashcan.

The man walked over to the trashcan and fished the cup out, taking a long sip. Please with his findings he finished the delicacy and sauntered diagonal to the other side of the street from trash can to trash can. Digging and hunting, he searched through the trash cans to find his latest treasure. Collecting an arm full of half eaten sandwiches, drinks and bags, the man wandered around a corner, continuing to find his next meal.

I sat there sipping a $5 cup of coffee, while this man searched for a meal with no money.

I was upset that I had worn a jacket because it was warm outside, yet this man was hoping it wouldn’t get cold tonight because he had nowhere to go.

I just wanted to go back to the hotel and sleep, though this man didn’t have a bed to sleep in tonight.

I was worrying about the simplest things, the luxuries I had, while I watched someone scraping to make ends meet.

It was a wake up call. Being to immersed with what I didn’t have, I seemingly forgot what I did have.

Taking the last sip of coffee, I glanced around me once more. The cafe still buzzing with activity, everyone going about their day unaware of the misfortune that lives on the streets.


*For you frappuccino drinkers, a cortado is a shot of espresso with equal part milk