For the most part, as with most people, Sunday is family day, and I’m no different. Before the festivities begin, no matter what I’ve got going on, the quiet early rise of Sunday morning begs for much reflection. And others it just takes a strong cup of coffee wielded by somnambulant effort before managing to spit out a coherent sentence. I was in a different part of town. And even though I tended to stay away from the Starbucks on Soscol Avenue which is often action-packed with teenagers and random acts of fancy this morning it was a matter of much convenience. Expecting to wrangle for my cup of coffee I got in line.
This morning the mood was different at this Starbucks, however. Quieter.
I ordered my brand of brew and proceeded with the fixings relieved by how smooth the ordering process was. After a couple of sips my ability to lift my head upright and grapple with others improves and immediately I am awakened by a hand-scribled chalkboard across the room.
What could this be doing in as sterile environment as Starbucks? I inquired. The barista stepped away from behind the counter over to me in discretion. Solemnly she explained it was a memorial for an employee at this location who recently passed. “He was younger than me,” the young lady soberly observed.
His name was Dayton Moore. Dayton said goodnight to his work buddies one fateful night on February the 6th, 2011 and did not return the following day for his scheduled shift. The cause of death was car accident. Sometime during the night between work and getting home he skidded off the road and bashed into a tree. Alcohol or drugs were not involved. Dayton was 17 years old. The farewells scribed on that wall seem to flatten the young man’s life and reduce it simply down to a three-sentence obit. Then, I realized that up on that wall was non other than the carrot-top, freckle-faced smart ass I wished to avoid this morning. A shiver of guilt passed through me.
It was way too early for metaphysics. As I stared at the wall in silence another co-worker wearing eye shadow too dark for this time a day aproached as she adjusted her apron. “It happens. Things like this happen.”
Indeed. I guess they do. But one can’t get away from the fact that a seventeen year old boy, or a 40-year old for that matter would never have foreseen such fate for oneself. Or evade questioning why it happens to some and not others.