The importance of a morning cuppa
“Really?” He asked lifting his left brow and leaning back into his chair. I nodded slowly, it was a Monday morning that had emerged from a stormy Sunday night, sunless and still very grey. The storm had not yet stopped, its remnant in the form of the drizzle and spit was still ongoing.
I loved mornings like these and so I sprung out of bed, dressed and walked over in the light droplets of sky spit to the coffee shack, which was just around the corner. They were just getting the brew started. Cons, the barista, was just heating up the expresso machine and cleaning the utensils and so I sat at my usual window seat and flipped through the pages of the paper.
Another quake again somewhere, and gossip about the mayor’s son, and then there was the business section which nobody except for the pretentious and rich read for the purposes of making a lot more money. That was what I thought anyway.
“Jules” he called out. Right, my usual was ready, steaming on the counter. “Thanks” I walked slowly over to the counter to grab the coffee, I placed the four bucks on the cashier and walked back to my seat sipping the flat white.
I went back to my paper and turned over the business section to the classifieds, peered at some houses. Picked out once I liked, just for fun, went through the job advertisements, and to the features. The story of an ex-callgirl, hmm. My eyebrows danced a little and I read on.
Kris (not her real name) was apparently 12 when she was sold. The feature by the town’s infamous investigative journalist, Marcia Grieve, began. The girl was apparently kidnapped by a syndicate at the age of 3, and sold at 12. Being pretty, petite, with deep-set eyes and a slender figure, she was set aside at the young age of 10 and taken in by Dame Maude who fed her, dressed her, and taught her the mannerisms of a lady.
She was a foreigner in that land, being from here. Her parents were expatriates, and apparently shopping when she was snatched. Not very careful parents, I thought, before dismissing the thought again, they were new to the place. For months, the police were looking for her, and so were the parents, but according to Grieve, the police were paid huge sums by these syndicates. They often had a part to play in these trafficking incidents. I frowned, still sipping my flat white. By this part of the piece, I was already through with the froth. The thing about the coffee shack was the way Cons made the froth, fluffy and creamy. It was not the light airy bubbly stuff that I disliked.
“What’s it you frowning at lady,” he yelled from behind the machine.
“You read this?” I asked picking up the paper and waving it in his direction while pointing at the feature. He nodded. Cons was not just barista, he was a law and politics student with social work diploma under his belt. Stories like this were right up his alley.
“Surprise surprise,” I said frowning. Cons nodded. “at the part when the ex-police officers who spilled some beans” I nodded. “Yup”.
We were familiar. We were both from the same part of the world, and had grown up listening to stories about government departments, including the police that was fat, yet inefficient. And then there were stories of their constant tendencies to skew towards the flip side of justice, ethics and morals. The stories were abundant. We rolled our eyes.
Kat’s parents eventually stopped dealing with the police, in frustration. They were nobodies, just expats, and the police would often go through formalities, without following through with the actual investigation.
They left the country in disappointment, and had a few other children. The missus visited again a good 20 years later, after her husband passed away, young. She saw a video advertisement and in it someone who looked like her daughter, or what she imagined her grown up daughter to be. She tracked her down and it turned out that was not her daughter, but then the stories were told and retold, and finally they were led to the place Kat was kept.
The “find kat project” was led by a group of social workers, and NGO and her fellow sex-workers, who happened to be the friend of the actress in the advertisement. Sounds a lot like a good hollywood movie does it not? That and the six-degrees of separation. Grieve had a knack for writing good drama, the exposé queen.
In her interview with Kat much was revealed, although Kat could not recall anything beyond the age of 8 where she was growing up in an “orphanage” with a group of other girls before being adopted by Dame Maude. Kat never knew what was wrong with her profession, she never knew better, not until her mother found her. She was about 23. She thought she did good, she had been told she was the best and was the top earner at that place. She never got to see much of that of course. She was well-fed, and lived well, and because of the clean reputation of that place, she was also clean, going for routine checks at the clinic of Dame Maude’s cousin. He apparently had a share in the business.
I looked up at the clock, it was about 9am. I snuggled into my seat a little more to finish the now cold coffee and read a bit more. I looked up at the clock again, 9:05am. I am sure there was something I had to do.
I read a little more, but I was distracted to I looked at the clock again.
Then it hit me. I had a morning job interview at 9:30am. I got out of my chair and ran back home to change. I picked up my phone, which had failed me. Reminders of the interview had not popped up. I slid the phone into my bag and put on my shoes. The bus comes every 10 minutes. I could catch the next one at 9:20am. I dressed, ran downstairs, down the road to the bus stop just in time to catch the bus.
I got downtown at about 9:30am and ran down the road to the building, I caught my breath a little when I got into the lifts. I peered into the reflection and smoothed my hair. I ran out of the lifts as it opened and ran straight into the office of Stern, Stern and Stern. My head hit the glass doors. “Ow!” I swore under my breath. I proceeded to push the doors with my hands but they where locked. I looked in, the lights were on but the office was empty. I checked the office hours that were printed on the door, Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm. It was 9:45am, it could not be closed.
I rang on the doorbell and waited patiently, and then I rang again, and again until finally Mr.Stern himself came to the door. I recognised him from a recent newspaper article.
“Good morning Mr.Stern, I am sorry I am late,” I said.
“You are?” he asked.
“Jules, Julia Maude” He looked at me and raised his eyebrows.
“And what were you late for?” he asked inviting me into his office. “Have a seat” He sat on his giant leather seat.
“The interview?” I said.
“Really?” He asked lifting his left brow and leaning back into his chair. I nodded slowly.
“When was your interview scheduled for Miss Maude?” My mind began to whir in confusion. “Today, at 9:30am”
“Really?” he leaned forward and looked at me. “Are you sure?”
“Yes!” I nodded.
“Well, I have to tell Mrs.Pane off then for scheduling the interview for today.”
“What?” I asked.
“You want to double check your appointment?”
I took my phone out and checked the calendar, there was no mistake, I had a job interview on Monday at 9:30am. Then I looked at the top right hand corner. I looked around the office. Empty.
“It is not office practice to schedule interviews on Sundays, Miss Maude.”
Sunday. No wonder there was a feature in the paper! I looked back at him. It was a Sunday morning that had emerged from a stormy Saturday night.
He lifted his left brow again.
“I am so sorry,” I started to say.
“You do not have to apologise,” he laughed, “better a day early than a day late.”
I smiled, and then sighed a wistful sigh. I could have just sat and enjoyed the rest of that Sunday feature and ordered another cup of coffee.
“Coffee then?” he asked.
“Sure, why not?” I laughed nervously.
And we sat drinking coffee talking about Kat. And I got the job.
All of this over a Sunday morning cuppa!