Sold one “Cheesesteak.” The purchaser was a young woman, visiting Berkeley from San Diego, seated beside me in the café. I gave her my card. She was so far outside the demographics of my general buying public, I was hoping to hear her response.
Otherwise, it was a bevy of chitchat. There was a financial planner from Cincinnati, who had brought out his son, an Antioch student, to begin one of his work stints. We talked Yellow Springs, Woodstock, People’s Park, and Robert Maplethorpe. There was a homeless fan of Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs, whom I hadn’t seen since another café we both frequented made him and his several stuffed shopping bags feel unwelcome. (He hadn’t known I wrote books.) There was an Eritrian-born systems engineer, a fan of Raymond Carver’s, who’d worked all over the world and was now taking a break, deciding whether to become a writer himself or an entrepreneur (and, if the latter, whether here or in Africa).
And there was an elderly gentleman, who paused on the way to his table and stared at my sign and books. This was not unusual, but he kept staring.
“Wanna buy a book?”
“Are you Bob?”
“I’ve heard of you.”
This I doubted. “$5-to-$20.”
“Are you here often?”
“Three or four times a week.”
“Maybe when I get my check.”
I could have said I take credit cards. I should have said that, at least, to the financial planner.