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  • A salty summer time ago when I was just sixteen,

  • When everyone was saving up and swimming the ravine,

  • When all you really thought about was buying your first car.

  • Even if you never plan on going very far.

  • I was serving soy lattes to make a measly buck.

  • And one day when I felt like I could use a little luck,

  • [door chime]

  • An old man came into the store and ordered a tall drip.

  • "A large black coffee please."

  • [coffee pouring]

  • Waited kindly, smiled and paid.

  • Even left a tip.

  • I'm not sure why I noticed,

  • But as he approached the door, he pocketed some sugar packets

  • Then he took some more.

  • I didn't think to much of it, but when the next day came,

  • [door chime]

  • He ordered. Waited. Left a tip. And then he did the same.

  • The third day, he came walking in.

  • [door chime]

  • I asked him quite in vain,

  • "Some sugar in your coffee sir?"

  • He said, "I take it plain."

  • He smiled, left the tip and winked.

  • Then as I watched him leave,

  • He grabbed three sugar packets up, and put them in his sleeve.

  • I couldn't think of why this man would want these sugar packets.

  • Maybe he just liked to keep them, in his pants and jackets.

  • Or did he want to bake a cake?

  • Or make some crème brûlée.

  • Or was he using it on rats...

  • To test for tooth decay.

  • I thought and thought about this man.

  • Until I couldn't stand it.

  • So finally I decided to confront this sugar bandit.

  • The next day when the man came in,

  • [door chime]

  • His eyes a little red.

  • I didn't wait for him to speak, I came right out and said,

  • "Plain coffee right? No milk, no cream."

  • He nodded. Eyes still swollen.

  • Then may I ask you what's with all the sugar that you've stolen.

  • "My wife for fifty years is very sick and cannot eat.

  • But every day she asks me if I would bring her something sweet."

  • My eyes welled up with salted guilt.

  • I swallowed hard with shame.

  • My quaking voice rose just enough to ask the old man's name

  • "Grimes". He said.

  • Then winked his weary eye and gave a tip.

  • He left the store, with several sugar packets in his grip.

  • The next day when he didn't come to claim his bitter drink,

  • [door chime]

  • I figured he was fine, but missed the comfort of his wink.

  • The next day when he didn't show,

  • [door chime]

  • And the day to follow...

  • [door chime]

  • Something deep inside my chest began to feel all hollow.

  • Fourteen days went by, before I saw it in the Times.

  • [paper rustling]

  • Buried in obituaries.

  • There was Robert Grimes.

  • Carpenter of fifty years,

  • loving dad of three,

  • passed away just two weeks after darling wife Marie.

  • [door chime]

  • I know it's kind of strange, to tell a story on this day,

  • I guess it just embodies what I can't find words to say.

A salty summer time ago when I was just sixteen,

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B1 chime door day man smiled waited

The Man at the Counter

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/11/01
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