Midday. A young woman hurries into a deli. She scans the drink cases, hurls open a smudged glass door, and pulls out a Coke. Caffeine. To keep going. She waits behind a large man who has ordered a bagel with butter and a coffee light and talks ceaselessly about the weather. The woman digs into her purse, collecting coins from its depths. She counts. She has it exactly. From behind the man, still talking, she waves her Coke and places the coins in a small stack on the counter. She slips out of the store.
"Miss!" a voice says. "Miss!"
She turns to see a man come from the store. The clerk behind the counter. He is now on the sidewalk, beckoning her to return. She retraces her steps, stands inches from him. "I paid for this," she explains.
"What then?" she asks.
"Your change," the man says, staring into her eyes.
"But I counted. It's $1.25, right?" she asks.
"Not that kind of change," he says. "Real change. What would you change - about you - given the chance? One thing."
She smiles. Studies his eyes. They are dark and kind. Shaped like almonds, glittering in late summer sun. She realizes something. Something tiny and tremendous. She never even saw this man, or his eyes, before. Even though she was standing there, looking at him. She looked, but she did not see.
"I would linger longer," this woman says. "In my moments. I miss too much."
He nods. And smiles. Turns to go.
"Sir," she says, this woman.
"What is your name?" she asks.
"Delta," he says, grinning, playing with her perhaps. Laughter tumbles from him as he steps back in the store.
"One more thing!" she calls, uncapping her soda.
"Thank you. For my change."
She sips Coke. And realizes that, today, she is already awake. That sometimes stopping is as good as going.
- What's your change? One thing you would change about yourself or the way you approach the world?
- Do you ever wish you lingered longer in your moments? Do you also have trouble being truly "present"?
- Do you agree that here are gems of realization buried in the rubble of the everyday?
- Do you have a healthy relationship with caffeine?
- Do you ask people you encounter only briefly their names?