killing time at a coffee shop that may also be heaven
tick tock drip drop: how far will one man go to kill an hour?
I've got an hour to kill.
What the hour did to deserve such a fate, I cannot say.
All I know is what my brain has begged of me: please take the 10 am hour on Wednesday, March 22 after you drop your son off at daycare at 9 am and before you start work at 11 am, and please kill that hour. You need this. We need this.
I search on Google Maps for a coffee shop, the place I go most days to be productive. The perfect alibi. He always came here, seemed to be working real hard, Officer. No, I don’t think he’d ever…kill an hour, no that doesn’t sound like him.
I'd usually end up at a little mom and pop shop called Starbucks, as I know their wifi game is strong and also because I've figured out a way to basically get free coffee / tea / squished sugar packets.
But not today. Not again. I am not going to make the most of this hour. I will not use it wisely. The mission is simple - kill the hour, and no hour of mine is gonna be killed at Starbucks, no way.
Nor will I head to the schizophrenic Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (pick a lane dude), nor Toasted, a local joint which is actually not bad. Their coffee’s pretty good but for some reason I remember it feeling hot the last time I was there – not the coffee but the place itself – which means I'll never go there again until I forget and realize it's actually a good place but that is NOT going to happen today.
There is one more spot, though, one I’ve never seen on the map before...
What kind of name is Jeremy's?
LA coffee shops are not called Jeremy’s.
Coffee Commissary, Sip & Sonder, Alchemist. Those are names for LA coffee shops. Like actual ones.
Jeremy’s is a diner in the Midwest, fulla’ truckers and a man named Jeremy who runs the joint and makes the pie, refilling the coffee before you've even had a sip.
Jeremy’s it is. If I'm gonna kill the hour, might as well do it in a place where I don't know anyone, in case there's an investigation or anything. I know, I know - it's not illegal to kill time, yes, but boy it sure feels like it sometimes don't it?
From the outside, the place looks abandoned. And it’s breaking the number one rule of places in Los Angeles: you have to be able to see inside - to gawk and squawk about all the cool shit happening in there. You might see Enterauge star Jeremy Piven! At Jeremy’s! (if you see a star, it is always jeremy piven)
I'm seated at a two-top close to the bar. The super nice dude who's running the water and drinks brings me a coffee cup - one of those thick ceramic mugs that holds a shockingly small amount of liquid, the kind you'd be thrilled to find at an estate sale. He pours the coffee from an absolutely classic looking coffee pitcher thing, the kind with the black necktie on it so you know its LEGIT vs. its sad sack of a brother with the orange DECAF necktie, the one who has to try hard cuz he has no caffeine to offer.
Sipping on the coffee, I can't stop staring at the group of five old men sitting at the one big table in the center of the restaurant. All the other tables are hugging the wall, but not these guys - they're holding court, the youngest among them 78 years young, talking church and construction and baseball and everything in between. There's a lightness to it all, a feeling of not just being in a place but of that place — connected in the way people used to use the word, bonded.
Two younger guys come in, one looking like the 26-year-old brother of the other and I'm no longer the only person in here that's gotta pay full price at the movies.
This is good, I think. A good place. Mom and pop flyover country vibes. I gotta write about this, and there’s a lot to write so my laptop would be best. Except, I look around at the fairly full Jeremy’s and no one else has a computer out.
And I wouldn’t just be setting up a laptop. I’ve got a whole rig — super lightweight laptop stand, external keyboard + external (wired) mouse, and of course an accompanying mouse pad. It’s a big production, especially given that I’ll end up using it to scroll through reddit and write fart jokes, but hey you know what they say. I’m not gonna say it, cuz you know it and so its fine we all know it.
But not today. Not at Jeremy’s. Mostly because if I did get it set up, the veterans would kick my ass. But also because I’m killing time, so I take out my notebook instead. I start writing.
I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories in this place
so...the thing i'
if this isn't enough, what is
That last one’s a remix of Vonnegut’s reminder to the graduating class of such and so:
My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?
I never feel like enough. But, when will I? When will it be enough? And if this isn’t it, here, then what could it possibly be?
The waitress comes over, menu in hand. The laminated kind that’s huge, like they wanted to make sure you couldn’t steal it. Or they planned on putting a bathroom key on it, one day.
“Is it ok if I just hang with the coffee?” I ask.
“Yea,” she says, in a perfectly neutral tone - sure, it’s fine, she’s saying, I’m not happy about it - my tip is gonna suck ass - but also, I ain’t mad at you.
She doesn’t make eye contact at all, either, which I notice because I don’t either. I never have. I look at the little flap of skin above someone’s mouth, the one between the upper lip and the nose holes. That’s a safe place for me to look. I can get most of the idea of what a person is doing, but not the whole thing, which is much too scary.
But she, fifty something with frazzled hair and glasses, she’s looking way over past me into nothingness. I assume she hates me and carry on.
The waitress glides over to them, and the younger one orders first: “2 eggs, hashbrowns, sour dough.”
“no meat?” asks the waitress
“bacon,” answers the guy, like he’d just remembered a core part of what made him a man.
I write all this down too - maybe these two are the story? Maybe there’s multiple stories. I open a new page and keep a list of the stories, just in case. They all overlap with one another on the notebook’s skinny pages, so I draw shapes to indicate where a thread continues, eight pages later. A little triangle, shaded. That’s how I’ll know. 🔺
I’ve only been here 20 minutes and have lived an entire life. Maybe this is how you kill time? By ignoring its son, the laptop, and its holy spirit, the internet.
I get lost looking at the license plates that cover the walls of Jeremy’s. They’re everywhere, but not in that trying too hard sort of way but the real thing, a beautiful mess that wouldn't look good on Instagram.
And I used to be so good at it, killing time. I’d kill entire days with no remorse. Now, I panic if I kill five minutes, let alone ten, without getting some shit done. I keep searching for the story. For something to happen.
Behind me, more license plates. They’re the special kind that you have to pay to write something specific. Vanity, they call it, though I don’t find it too vain.
4 MY KID (CA)
SOBR TOY (CA)
4AND V6 (CA)
There’s at least one story in each of those plates, I think, imagining SOBR TOY and 4 MY KID meeting up at a Chuck E. Cheese and drinking Diet Coke until they fall in love.
Speaking of sober drink - the drinks guy is back to refill my coffee for probably the fourth time. I feel bad and try to stop him, “Ah, I’ve still got a bunch -”
“It’s cold,” he says, reminding me who is in charge as he pours a new layer of joe atop the cold old stuff that’s been sitting in my cup.
I take another sip. I’m buzzed now beyond reproach. Where the fuck is the story, I keep asking myself. The geezers are gonzo, the two bros are talking about playing guitar as a hobby, and time is running out.
Shit. The very thing I came here to kill has now got me by the balls.
It’s raining, I can see through the windows behind me, the ones not covered by the blinds.
I watch the rain, and I decide to try to describe it, already doubting my ability to do so. This is something real writers do, maybe, but not me. I'm gonna suck at it. I try anyways:
It's raining, it's pouring. Lotta old men here, but no snoring.
I'm staring at the rain trying to describe it but I can't. I've got a half baked idea about each drop aftermath looking like - no, this sucks.
Lemme get a better one
in the puddles the drips of rain look like a bunch of invisible dogs and cats running across the water
WAIT HOLY FUCK
is this why they call it raining cats and dogs???
i did not set this up i swear to you
In many cultures, this would be called a religious experience. Something transcendent and mystical, all powerful and true. I would have to agree. I get tingles just thinking about it. Easily one of the top 10 moments of my life. The pure joy I felt realizing that that’s why they say that phrase. Or not even realizing, because I didn’t confirm it, nor have I since. If I looked it up, I might have to face that I was wrong.
But I wasn’t. This truth about the origin of why they say its raining cats and dogs exists in the world outside of time and phone, clock and fact.
This is the world beyond time, here at Jeremy’s, where the lack of story is the story, where nothing happening is very much the happening. Here, there is no second half of the 🔺. Not all stories end because not all stories start because not everything has to start and end - the best things, often, don’t.
Neetchze once said, God is dead, we have killed him.
Could the same be said about time? Have we killed it by needing to suck every last ounce of productivity from its marrow?
I dunno. Seems a bit dramatic.
So, did I kill the hour? No. It’s not possible. The hour wasn’t ever alive in the first place. Nor was it money, even though some dipshit once said it was, so you can’t buy time or spend time, keep time or waste time, give time or take time away.
And you definitely can’t kill time. But time can kill you. And it will. It always has. But until it does, you might as well enjoy the coffee and the old men and the brother and the waitress and the meows and ruffs, drip drop dancing in the rain.
Because if that isn’t enough, what is?
Thanks for reading this one y’all. I’m gonna go try to sneak in a nap before Wilder wakes up so I’ll keep this brief!
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Let’s talk about it
what’s your relationship with time?
what about coffee?
are you good at killing time / relaxing? how?
if youre also obsessed with work — why?