My first job out of college, I had the exact same breakfast every day. Sick or healthy, hung over or rested, running late or early, it always played the same way. Exactly. I’m sure I didn’t realize that first morning how the routine was becoming established. Would it have mattered?
After getting off the train, I’d walk with the masses through the station to Dunkin Donuts and line up in front of the same register for a chocolate-covered cake donut. Depending on the wait to reach the counter, I’d cheat on my beloved by furtively gazing upon the jelly-filled, white powder-sugared, fried something braids, and Danish-y pastries. The store, built to fit in a rail station’s narrow stall, smelled like someone had painted the walls with a sugar-grime paste. Sometimes my teeth itched in anticipation.
"Good morning, what can I get you?” The same clerk would ask the same question even though, once our eyes met, we both knew what I wanted. On occasion, I’d toy with ordering something else just to see her expression not that she’d actually care. Her morning was saturated with habituated customers of every shape and size. Inside, we were all the same. “I’d like one chocolate cake, please.” Swinging the small white paper bag as I walked to my office, I willfully ignored the expanding grease spot that invariably appeared to remind me what existed behind the facade.
Minutes later, coat hung up with backpack stowed under my desk, I’d return with a cup of coffee from the lunch room and settle down. Biting through that waxy chocolate topping and deep fried crust, the soft dough was heaven. And stars appeared in the heavens as I added coffee sips. What felt like 5 minutes was probably 45 seconds of unflattering, large courtesy chews before swallowing. No letdown, really, because my brain and taste buds already lived the experience. But, wait for it, dessert! Ah, back in the day when one could, even in a data processing department, lean back and light a cig. Good times.