Surrounded by Nobodies

I love coffee. Coffee is magical. Coffee fills me with a sense of grandiosity which otherwise only occurs when I achieve something really important.

I was sipping a cup of Caribou dark roast last Saturday at the mall. Just as my mood turned warm and fuzzy, a sad little bit of humanity appeared. She was in her early 20's with dark blonde hair and a rumpled pink hoodie.

"Can I sit here?"

I looked around the food court and realized the only free chair in the place was at my table. "Sure."

She slumped into her chair, face obscured by her hoodie. A solitary tear dripped into her hot chocolate.

As an older person who's been around the block a few times, I felt an obligation to offer my advice and counsel. "Are you okay?"

"No," she said in a muffled voice.

"What's going on?"

Her voice caught in a sob. "Minnesota is nowhere and this mall is filled with nobodies."

I knew better than to argue that Minnesota is somewhere, so I decided to focus on the human element. "What makes you think they're nobodies?"

"I just know."

I glanced at the people around us. There seemed to be hundreds of them. They were talking and laughing and eating. Some were in family units, some were in couples, and some were alone. They were all shapes and sizes and colors and ages. "How do you know?"

Her tone was matter-of-fact. "Because it takes one to know one, and I'm the biggest nobody of them all."

I snorted in disbelief. "Oh come on. I'm sure you're somebody to someone."

"No I'm not."

"What about your family and friends? Don't they love and care about you?"

"Yeah," she said, "but that's not what I'm talking about." She sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. "I want to be somebody to someone who's never met me and doesn't love or care about me." She gave me a beseeching look. "Does that sound crazy?"

"No," I said. "That doesn't sound crazy at all."