In 2006, I quit my full-time job to work part-time as a barista while attending massage school. My friends had bought a coffee shop and offered me a job. Many of the other employees had worked for the previous owners, and were, frankly, not very nice people. They decided almost immediately that they didn't like me. I wasn't sure if it was because I didn't look or dress like them, because I was friends with the new owners (who they didn't approve of, and stole from, despite all the new owners tried to do for them), or if they just didn't dig my personality, or some combination of all that. It made it tough to work there, sometimes.
But there was an exception. He worked the graveyard shift, and I worked the morning shift, so we overlapped a bit when I came into work at the crack o' dawn. We were given a fair amount of liberty as to the ambiance of the place during our shifts. He preferred to turn off all the lights, blast death metal, and burn incense. It was, after all, the graveyard shift. But when I came in, I knew my regulars, on their way to work, would never come in with the place in that state. So I'd cheerfully turn on the lights, extinguish the smoke, let some fresh air in, and play happier music. Strangely, though, we got along great. We'd joke around and talk about random things.
I remember one morning, I came in with my hair still wet from a shower and fresh hair gel. He looked at me and wrinkled his nose and said, "You look so...clean." His appearance tended more towards the unwashed and disheveled look. I laughed and explained that I'd just taken a shower, which he couldn't imagine was worth the extra few minutes that early in the morning. Then he walked over and put his arm around me and grinned. "Now you're dirty!" he said.
No, we didn't have much in common, but it didn't seem to matter. Sometimes we had long and fairly deep conversations. What I gathered from his past was pretty rough, though he didn't seem to think so, it was simply all he knew. He drew cartoons. Really good ones, actually.
I only worked there for a few months, before I finished massage school and was able to work as a Massage Therapist. We'd run into each other fairly often when I lived in the Quarter, and chat and catch up with each other.
The last time I saw him, I was in a hurry, and I didn't stop to say hi, figuring I'd just wait till next time. But there won't be a next time, because he was apparently murdered Thursday night. The end.