My first job was at Barnie’s, a coffee shop at the mall. Before I came along, my dad poured the foundation of Governor’s Square Mall. I couldn’t help but think of him, especially when the halls were empty. The mall seemed to breathe and move on its own. Early in the morning, when the sun creeps into the large glass top in the center of the mall, the halls are silent. Slowly, life emerges from the sleepy building as metal door gates squeak open, the tired cleaning crews scraping large push-brooms across the shiny tiled floor. Every day at 8:00am the large fountain jerks to life and the silence is dead.
I remember being overwhelmed by the espresso machine. In training, they save it for last. Everything was so loud and complicated. The hiss of the steam wand, the drastic change of pitch when it becomes submerged in cold milk, was a whining squeal. It was almost frightening. It reminded me of my father’s warehouse, where everything shook and groaned. There was a pressure hose there, one that spewed air when the little brass button was pushed. When I was in elementary school, my dad would put the hose in his mouth to make his big cheeks flap. He always wanted me to try it, but the air pushed out so hard that it scared me. And I didn’t want my teeth to look like his, almost skeletal.