my shameful mistake of the morning

I’ve developed an uncharacteristic passivity about the small thread of ants who appear during the day and explore an elevated platform attached to my desk, who suck whatever sweetness they find on the rims of idle soda cans.

            I like to watch them.

            And when sometimes they scuttle down from that platform and wander onto my notepad or keyboard I brush them away carefully, never squashing if I can help it, and earlier today, while I was out across the street for tostada and colada, I was approached by a man in need, he was wearing two backpacks and lots of layers, and since I was wearing headphones as we crossed paths, and my hands were full, he stopped and looked at me and made a gesture of yearning that I thought was a request for money, of which I had none (just a card), and so I said sorry, I don’t have any, and then I kept on walking, jarred at the idea of how to remain cordial with people, strangers in particular, in the time fo soial distancing—and then it hit me:

            His gesture hadn’t been a request for money.

            He’d wanted a small shot of coffee.

            And because of ym fucking headphones I walked past him saying, “Sorry, I don’t have any.”

            I had it in my hand! With shot cups for sharing!

            I realized this about a block away and I thought of hustling back, correcting myself and giving him a shot (two!), but for a cocktail of stupid self-conscious reasons I just…kept going along my way. And I’m sure this guy wouldn’t have thought I looked foolish, or if he did think I looked foolish he wouldn’t have cared so long as it got him a bit of coffee, but still. I just didn’t go back. Kept on hustling toward home, toward my desk, and toward my notepad where, now, looking up, I see these ants, milling about so comfortable and confident, drinking, drinking…

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