Sam the Barista

For the full experience, read the preceding entries from the Collector before meeting Magic Mike.

Entry #4 Posted on July 18, 2019:

I was watching a guy pick his nose near the back wall. That happened often enough in the Soggy Sonnet, the question was: where would he put the booger? It went on the underside of the table, a sadly common occurrence in this coffee shop. My disappointment did not last long because a moment later a vibrant figure walked through the door, turning more heads than just my obscenely nosey one.

He was into some form of art, that was certain. The purple corduroy jacket paired with the ascot (I think it was an ascot) and the cocky swoop of his hair announced to the world that he cared deeply about aesthetics. The man walked right up to Sam. Unusual, because Sam was just making drinks today and someone else was manning the register. The interaction quickly turned aggressive. Sam repeatedly told the man, “Dude. I make the coffee. If you want to order coffee, you have to talk to Tatiana at the register.” The artsy-type dude was responding in hushed tones. The fourth time Sam said, “Dude. I make the coffee…” The man stormed off.

I’m not usually one to pursue a story, I prefer to have them come to me, but this was too juicy to let go. I left Sogs in pursuit of the man in the purple corduroy jacket.

He was a director and he explained that Sam wasn’t exactly who he claimed to be. He was actually a professional actor that was “getting paid way too much damn money to be wasting his time and my time with this BS stunt.” I asked what the stunt was. The director didn’t quite understand himself. Sam was a method actor and it seemed like in pursuit of embodying his character, a barista, he had gone native.

I was stunned. I thought I had an eye for this kind of thing, but a once-in-a-century personage had been flitting back and forth on the edge of my peripheral vision and I mistook him for an averagely odd barista.

I was in a “walking straight up to people” kind of mood, so I did. I approached Sam as soon as I crossed the threshold. I watched as he worked an intricate design into a cappuccino. “Cindy,” he called out in a perfect barista impersonation. He was a natural.

Cindy claimed her drink, and as soon as she turned away, I blurted, “Tell me it’s true.” He gave me a wild-eyed look – just how a barista who wasn’t actually an insane method actor would have responded. So, I waited him out. Each time he came near me to serve a drink, I said it again, “Tell me it’s true, Sam.”

He shook his head and said, “Sorry, man couldn’t hear you – coffee grinder. Besides, you order at the register.” He returned to the frappe he was frappeing.

Yes, he was a professional, but I wasn’t acting – it was just the way I was wired. After the third Katie ordering a Frappuccino, he told me to meet him out back for a cigarette.

He admitted that it was true. Sam had gone down the rabbit hole – he was in deep: “Man, I’m deeper than Brando, Depp, and Ledger. I’m in the zone, the creative zen zone that you can’t step outside of because you never know if you’ll ever make it back in. One hit wonders? They stepped out of the zone. Stupid. I won’t do it. This isn’t about film anymore – it’s about living art. Film? That was yesterday. VR? I’m past that. What I’m doing is real – gritty.” I thought he was stopping to breathe but it was just to take a pull of his cigarette; he had good cardio for a smoker. He continued, “I don’t need special lighting and a script. I’ve gone beyond anything the producer or director could have come up with.” He finished his cigarette and left. I was floored. Was he mad or brilliant? I don’t know anything about film, but I do know the distinction between those two descriptors is thin and entirely subjective.

I followed up with the director because I couldn’t leave it alone. He had talked to the owner, and supposedly they’re collecting film from the security cameras. They can’t use it unless Sam agrees, but The Method Man, as the director has named it, will likely be released in the next two years. Look for my name in the list of extras.

Oh, and we figured out what was going on with Magic Mike. The owner had never actually taken the time to figure out how to look at the footage from his security cameras until the director and I approached him. Turns out he had tape of Mike breaking into Sog’s late at night to steal bottles of whipped cream and copies of books or to replace a good lightbulb with one that was about to go out. He was a fraud. I thought it was almost more interesting than the first story so I’m certainly keeping Magic Mike in the collection; I’m sure he will enjoy the attention if he ever finds out.