“They say the percentage of redheads in this country is really tiny,” Hebert said to the woman as she handed over the cheap bagel, the near-it’s-expiration-date cream cheese tube, and the coffee with a price in the two digits.
“Is that so?” she said, sounding bored. “Well, I guess that’s cool. Enjoy your food.”
Herbert struggled to keep the conversation going, despite his eyes downcast in a way that did not put the woman’s mouth at the forefront of his vision. But, bored and agitated people behind him in line pressured him to take his food and plop it down at the cheap—but made to look nice—lacquered table.
He sat down, and examined his food, and found it visually lacking, even with the cream cheese, and then took a loud crunch, and found the taste lacking as well. The whole thing was lacking really, just devoid of anything at all.
A sigh escaped his mouth, among crumbs, and the other people in the building milled in, and out, and around, and some even took the teleporters to god-knows-where. Cost a fair bit those. How they afforded coffee and teleportation was beyond him.
His coffee was, thankfully, not lacking. Perhaps not worth being financially unable to get to his house a mile away in the blink of an eye, but good coffee nonetheless. Herbert thought about this as the coffee burned the roof of his mouth, making him unable to taste the dark roast.
Out of the corner of his eye, a group of two sat with small screens laid out in front of them. They had all their attention on the screens, each tapping with one hand in seemingly random motions, but they leaned on each other with a familiarity that made Herbert sigh deeply.
“Great,” he mumbled and felt his eyes bristle. He did not cry. Instead, he took another bite of the bagel with the cream cheese.