(AnD OtheR ObSeRvAtIons AbOuT LiFe in DyIng TiMeS) By bRiAn pOlK AW FUCK, LOOKS LIKE MY LEAST FAVORITE CUSTOMER SURVIVED COVID AFTER ALL We hadn’t seen Old Man Lifton since before the Great Lockdown, and absolutely no one at my job at the coffee shop missed him. He was always making creepy comments and misogynistic jokes to my coworkers five decades his younger. He referred to full-grown adults as “boy” and admonished them for not working harder in his presence. And he always demanded discounts for everything he ordered, even though he never tipped once. So when three years went by and no one had seen a trace of him, we just figured he had become a Covid statistic. But then yesterday, I was in the back and I heard someone say, “If they paid you for bein’ a good looker, you’d be rich.” I recognized the voice immediately. I also knew he was talking to Irene, No. 115 since she and Matt were on bar shift. (If he had been talking to Matt, he would have said, “Hey, boy.”) I sighed. Defeated, I walked out to give Irene a break and tell Mr. Lifton not to talk to the employees that way. He called me “little man,” gave me a hard time about raising our prices (since he was last here in 2020), and tried to leave without paying at all. When I confronted him about the bill — $3.75 for one Americano — he paid me in nickels and pennies. While we’re still pretty sure Covid claimed the mean lady with the MAGA hat who always stole all our sugar packets and made Mandy cry a few times, and the guy who would go on 20 minute sexist/racist/homophobic tirades about the evils of oat milk, it spared Old Man Lifton. Since he’s always talking about how great Florida is, maybe he’ll move. It’s our only hope at this point.

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