If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal. Paulo Coelho.
Every morning, at 8:31am she walks in through the glass double doors. Nobody knows who she is, what she looks like.
If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal. Paulo Coelho. underneath the shade of her dark sunglasses, what she sounds like, or even what she does in her day to day life. All they know is what she orders –breakfast wise– because it’s the same thing as it will be the day before that. And the day before that. And the day before that…
Light brown hair with so many almost white highlights that she appears to have golden blonde hair at times, usually underneath the glare of the sun, that dances around her like leaves twirling in the wind.
People watch her as she comes up the sidewalk after turning from a secluded corner, approaching the diner she always goes to at that specific time of morning. Nobody approaching or attempting to interact in any way but instead move from her path so as not to interrupt what they think is her set in stone routine. Nobody knows what would happen if she’s interrupted, so nobody tries to find out.
Her hair blows around her face gracefully in the wind, her purse held in the crook of her arm, her sunglasses shielding the winter sun from her eyes. Nobody approaches her, ever. Not even when she seems approachable which is next to never anyways because; Who is this woman?
In a small town where everyone knows each other, she stands out for miles and miles while at the same blends in just as well as a regular with how often she’s around. Everyone knows her but doesn’t know her.
She’s always wearing fine clothes, with clear expensive brands yet this is where she chooses to come. A regular diner that wouldn’t even be cast as a tourist attraction if the town had many tourists. Which it doesn’t.
The censored bell above the door of the diner with a minimalist vintage feel to it rings and in she comes, her hair straight today, falling to just under her shoulders in the length she never seems to stray from.
The entire atmosphere pauses as only the sound of her usual heeled pumps click with the soft jazzy tunes connected throughout the speaker system when she walks in and takes her usual seat at the booth in the back of the diner, setting her expensive handbag down beside her while she waits to be served.
Nobody knows when she arrived in the small town, why she’s here in the small town, or where she goes after her morning coffee.
“Good Morning.” Her usual server greets cheerily, setting down a tall, nonfat latte, alongside a fresh out of the oven buttered croissant.
“Thank you.” Her soft voice murmurs and the young, twenty something waitress nods, leaving her to her small breakfast.
That’s all anybody has heard her say. Thank you.
It’s a surprise how her order is known too, nobody knows who she originally placed it to, the small fact seems to have been forgotten but the order in itself remains. Not even the usual waitress who’s been serving her for as long as she has doesn’t know.
Too many things are a blur about this woman… You start to realise traces of this when even grandparents tell stories about her and nothing seems to change. Not her age, the time she comes and goes or her constant mysterious behaviour. The female turns to the window and watches the sidewalk intently, seeming to be both waiting and expecting for something to happen but not at all in the same.
Some people say she’s the town’s ghost, that’s been reliving the day she died by coming in each day at the same time, looking for something she feels she needs from the world before crossing over. Others say she’s the guardian angel who is waiting for a destruction to strike at 8:31am, so she can rescue them all.
Whoever or whatever she is though, nobody fears her, they’re only curious.
Picking up her croissant first after a few minutes, she tears a piece and puts it in her mouth, chewing as she watches - once again - the sidewalk.
Different yet the same faces come and go every morning and the people in the diner watch as she watches those strangers come and go, never saying a word, never smiling or moving her facial expression in any way.
She just watches, lost in the mystery of unfamiliar lives while others lose themselves in her.
After eating her croissant tear by tear, she sips her beverage in slow, long sips, until it’s finished. Setting the cup down, she reaches into her bag, pulls out a single one hundred dollar bill and slips it under her empty transparent cup.
Turning her wrist over to her line of sight, she lowers her eyes to glance at the time on her watch, staring at the small round screen for a few long seconds. 9:31am. Now she gets to her feet, grabs her bag, then leaves the café, disappearing down the sidewalk that she came with, back to the life of hers which nobody knows about.
8:31am, in she walks, her hair falling the usual length to just underneath her shoulders. Curled this time. She sits in her booth and waits to be served.
“Good Morning.” Her usual server greets, lowering a buttered croissant next to a tall nonfat latte.
“Thank you.” She watches the sidewalk as usual, eating her breakfast the way she does every morning.
9:31am. She stands and leaves the café, disappearing down her usual route.
8:31am, everyone watches her walk in and she makes her way straight to her usual booth, sliding in and fixing her exaggerated fluffy faux fur coat covering her from the light chill of the day, a cap on her head in place of her usual hat on this day.
The woman watches as her usual latte and croissant are placed in front of her, she looks up at her server through the sunglasses she never takes off. “Thank you.”
Sunglasses. Nobody has looked into her eyes. Why?
Does she do it on purpose or is that a bit of an introverted sign, a trait to add to her mysterious character or simply a fashion statement? People assume many things, but which one of them is true? Nobody knows.
Once her breakfast is done, she glances at her watch, slips a one hundred dollar bill underneath the weight of her empty coffee cup then stands.
She makes her way to the glass doors of the warm café, slipping through and leaving down the sidewalk.
8:31am. She appears.
9:31am. She’s gone.
8:31am. She walks in.
9:31am. She walks out.
In, 8:31am...Out, 9:31am.
Once again, 8:31am, she makes her way in, purse held in the crook of her arm as she then lowers herself into her booth, waiting to be served...
Finishing her last sip of coffee, she looks out at the window and then down at her watch.
9:31am. Her hand slides into her purse, pulling out a one hundred dollar bill, sliding it under the empty cup before standing and making her way to the door, where she leaves.
Days, weeks, months, years perhaps have been going down with this same routine. Time blurs, time doesn’t make sense when it comes to this woman but every single day at 8:31am, she is there with her sunglasses hat and expensive purse.
Who is she? What does 8:31 mean? Nobody knows.
Perhaps more than recorded times, we are told that developing a routine helps the job at hand not only go faster, but strengthens the possibility of continuing what some would strive for? Consistency?
The saying behind ‘routine being lethal’ can be taken in more ways than one, but the part in which goes with that key word lethal, should be the one addressed as a way to remind us of such an important message.