I applied everywhere, and eventually landed a job with Tim Hortons. They are a great organization, and I'm glad to be working for a Canadian icon.
Today, I had to go in for some orientation and sign a bunch of paperwork: signatures, initials, the whole shebang. As I was filling it out, I noticed a man and a woman a few tables over having a discussion. The woman -- very attractive, petite, with long dirty-brown hair -- was the only one talking, while the man -- short, lanky, wearing a logo-free black shirt -- was sitting there, shaking his head. I paused from my paperwork to try and listen to what she was saying, all while trying not to look like I was eavesdropping (which I clearly was).
"I don't know, I just...I don't like you anymore", she spoke, between sips of a tea.
"Why? I thought things were going great, I thought we were connecting", he replied, trying to remain calm in such a public setting.
"I look at you and don't feel any attraction. I'm not going to lie, I've been looking at other guys over the past few days, and have been craving that excitement that I don't get from you."
My goodness, she wasn't holding anything back. Honestly, I normally enjoy watching breakups. The things that the two parties say to eachother always have a line or two that leave me holding my sides. When a pair are in that situation, things come out of their mouths that neither of them really mean, but come to mind when overcome with so much emotion. That amuses me.
But this was different. The guy wasn't saying anything back, at least not in a demeaning way. You could tell that his feelings for the woman had developed further than hers had for him, but he wasn't trying to compensate and participate in a heated exchange. He absorbed every insult, name, and description that she threw at him.
"You act like a coward...your body-type is that of a teenager...your voice is too high...you're too passive in bed...I want a real man."
I want a real man.
I saw his facial expression when she said that last line. He was broken. Words tried to escape his mouth, but were trapped behind the shattered soul that occupied his thin frame.
"Look at you", she said. "Aren't you going to say anything? Don't you have any balls?"
I sat there in horror, praying that the guy would say something. Something. Now I was rooting for him. There is no way this excuse of a human was going to beat this man emotionally without him putting up some kind of a fight. Just say something buddy. Tell her she can't talk to you like that. Tell her you are a real man, and that you can do better. Just say something.
"I...I...uh...". Come on man. Say something. "I...", then he shook his head. Nothing.
"That's what I thought." She picked up her things and got out of her seat. "Goodbye. Don't call me again." She strutted out of the restaurant with a grin on her face.
It took every ounce of will in my body not to get up and tell her off. Part of me wanted to destroy her self-righteousness and make her feel small, like she just made him feel. I sat there shaking my head, clenching my fist, hating our species. I didn't have to fly to the Middle East and find war to witness true evil: it was right there in a family establishment.
I looked at the young man for a minute, trying to judge his mood. He was taking deep breaths, body shaking, unable to hold his iPhone, sitting there. Eyes watering, he did everything he could not to cry, hoping he wouldn't make a scene. I looked around the restaurant, and nobody else knew what happened. They were sipping their drinks and biting into their snacks, laughing and going on with their lives, not having a clue as to what had just happened.
Our protagonist held his head in his hands, feverishly wiping any proof of sadness from his eyes. He looked around to make sure no one was looking at him, and we made eye-contact for the first time. It was right then that he knew that I had heard everything. We held vision for 10 seconds, which must have felt like an eternity for both of us. The red in his face turned darker, adding embarrassment to the sadness he was already experiencing.
I looked away from him and tried to focus on my paperwork. I had forgotten everything before, and had no idea of where I was in my never-ending cycle of signatures. I didn't even want to do it anymore. I just felt awful.
He took one final gulp of his coffee and laid back in his chair. Wiping more tears from his face, he tried to calm himself down, but still had small bursts of emotion escape.
I knew he didn't want to do anything but focus on getting himself together, so I got up from my seat and stood in line. I ordered a medium double double, "for here", and brought it to the man. His head looked up and saw me standing over him. Dried streams covered his face, and I handed him his hot beverage.
"I don't know you, but I heard that whole exchange", I said, "and I just wanted to tell you that you're a real man."
"Thanks", he said, followed by another deep breath.
"I'm going to sit back in my seat, just thought that you might like another coffee."
"I appreciate it, man. You're a good guy."
"You too, bud. You too."