It started out like any other day at the coffee shop. I ordered a cappuccino, pretended to work on a screenplay as I played Monopoly on my phone. By hour four, I had to pee and asked the young mother behind me if she wouldn’t mind watching my stuff. Only when I came out just a few minutes later, my entire life had changed.
She, and every other customer in the coffeehouse, was standing up and applauding my jacket.
I was dumbfounded. My jacket? Why did my coat make them want to stand and cheer?
I asked the mother what was going on, and she pushed me aside and said I was “blocking that jacket.”
“Excuse me?” I said, her kids kicking me in the shin.
“Yeah, get away from that coat!” said another man, sweating profusely.
My jacket was just hanging on the chair, completely normal.
I asked an old lady, who was standing on her wheelchair to get a good view, why she thought this was happening. “I don’t know, baby doll,” she said. “It’s a nice jacket! Watch what it’s got!”
“I like that it’s a clean, camel color,” said one man in a beret. “And that it has a normal amount of buttons. Nothing too weird going on. It’s a class act!”
“It would match almost any scarf or hat,” said the barista, who had long abandoned her side work.
In that moment, I felt completely whole. Here it was – the high I’ve been chasing my whole life.
I fought jeers as I went for my coat, put it on, and waltzed out of the coffee shop without my drink, purse, or laptop.
“I did it,” I said to myself. “I brought people together. People of different backgrounds, religions, races, and partisan beliefs. I entered their lives and created a magical moment of unity for them in a time of constant texting and self-isolation. A moment that they will never forget and forever cherish.”
A week later, I realized I had infected them all with COVID-19.