Hot Lemon Ginger

politics at the café

a picture of a hot tea on a table in a cafe alongside a notebook and pencil.
Morning writing with a hot lemon ginger tea at the local café.

The price of a hot lemon ginger is $2.92

at the co-op café.

As I stand in line waiting, I realize I have a tendency to wear the latest in homeless fashion. It’s my preference for grey scale hues, really. My beloved tattered overcoat has seen better days. I feel the stares as finer threads pass by.

I move up in line and order my tea. The barista forgets to ask for my co-op member number so I don’t get my Wednesday membership discount, which would cover the parking fee for the brief morning visit. Oddly, they seem to scoff at penny pinching and the transaction is complete, so I don’t say anything. 24 cents, gone. Still worth it for a hot lemon ginger on a cold early spring morning.

I walk over to a table near the sunlight and find myself thinking about how we treat people based on what their clothes look like. Not only this, but how warmly we dress for the weather. Perhaps people who are financially wealthy assume only a quick jaunt through freezing weather, and need just a warm sweater and scarf, while folks of more moderate or meager means might have to walk further and be outside for longer periods of time, and thus might actually wear… a coat.

I sip my tea and watch folks dash in and out. The weather is freezing but nobody ever seems to wear a coat. From a warm house, to a warm remote started car with heated seats in the garage, to parking street side near the door of the café just steps away from more warmth, why bother with a coat?

Anyway, it does seem to be this café in particular that triggers these lines of thinking about class, status and privilege. Seemingly symbolized by whether one wears a coat in cold weather.

I am not surprised this café is a stage for such things. Rich folk here are so enamored with themselves they romanticize they are poor… until they see someone with a coat. Then their eyes kind of pop.

I finish my hot lemon ginger and step out into the morning sunlight, wrapped snug in my grey scale hues. I see the news vendor on the street corner just outside the café selling a $2 newspaper, a publication written by and for the homeless community. The money raised helps support the publication and the vendors. I hand him a couple dollars and tuck the newspaper under my arm for later afternoon reading.

His coat looks rough on the edges — and warm.

© Dawn Nelson, 2022

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