I was wandering around my neighborhood with my sketchbook last weekend and suddenly felt very tired. I went into a restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee. The waiter returned with two cups on a tray, one for me and one for a man in a cowboy hat who was sitting at a nearby table. I stirred cream in my coffee and took a sip. The cowboy waved to the waiter and said, "My coffee is cold."
The waiter retrieved the cowboy's cup of coffee. "Sorry, sir. I'll get you another."
The cowboy gestured in my direction. "Her coffee is cold too. "
"My coffee is fine," I said to the waiter.
"He brought yours at the same time as mine," the cowboy said. "It must be cold."
"It's fine," I said to the cowboy.
The waiter walked away and into the kitchen. The cowboy said to me, " I suppose you think I'm a pain in the ass, sending back my coffee like that."
"No, I don't think you're a pain in the ass," I said. And I meant it. I didn't think he was a pain in the ass. I opened my sketchbook and drew a picture of the salt shaker next to my coffee cup.
The man watched me for a moment and said, "'This neighborhood has a lot of artists."
"Yes it does," I said.
"You an artist?" he said.
"Yes," I said.
"Do you make a living at it?" he said.
"I wouldn't call it a living, but yes I make money from my art," I said.
The waiter returned with a fresh cup of coffee and set it down in front of the cowboy.
The cowboy took a sip of the coffee and grimaced. "It's still cold."
"I'm sorry, sir, but that's as hot as the coffee gets here," the waiter said. "Would you like me to get you something else?"
"No," the cowboy said. "I'll drink it anyway."
The waiter walked away.
The cowboy gazed at me with a bleak expression and said, "Why does this always happen to me?"
"I don't know," I said. And I meant it. I didn't know why it always happened to him.