Extinguished Customer

Illustration by Bob AulI'm the guy who used to get my coffee and bagel (sesame, un-toasted, lox spread) every Thursday on my way to my weekly gig on Valley View. I've been one of your most loyal customers. You used to be the kind, convivial couple who own the place. You still own the coffee shop thanks to me, because I'm the guy who put out the fire at your bistro. I'm no hero; I did it because it seemed like the polite, neighborly thing to do. I don't care that you didn't have a fire extinguisher in the front of the store—something that the city fire marshal, or maybe the local code enforcement department, might find interesting. And I don't care that another patron had to run to her car and get her extinguisher so that I could put out the fire. I don't even care that the following Thursday you didn't offer me a free bagel and coffee, although it would have been a sweet, possibly even appropriate, gesture. What I care about is that when you had the chance to say “Thanks, big guy, for keeping our business from burning to the ground,” you just turned around and walked into the back of the store. So now, if you want to see me every Thursday, just drive up the street to the nearest coffee shop, where, having saved your business, I have taken mine.

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