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Look Like a Tourist
"Lisa, Candace, smile for the video,"
I yelled from behind with my camera recording both them and the scenery at the same time. The night was wonderful, just several days from Christmas and the streets of Times Square were filled with not only lights, but people. Every one bore cheery smiles and little youngsters skipped alongside their parents. Tourists with camcorders and camera’s snapped pictures of the nearby Good Morning America Studios and MTV which stood right across from it. First time sightseers rode the big, red sightseeing buses and absorbed the glitz and glamour of Times Square, New York. Bright billboards filled the sky and looking over; I spotted a poster promoting Lion King on Broadway. Across the street, I noticed people holding little red holiday cups that could only come from one place. Starbucks! I looked over at the nearest Starbucks imagined myself holding a nice vanilla latte. My own Christmassy Starbuck’s cup filled with my own warm, whip cream filled latte. Lisa and Candace looked back.
"Tasha put it away or else I'm takin' it", Lisa said.
But I wasn't letting my sister put a damper on my Christmas spirit, so what I come to Time Square all the time, does that mean I can't have fun with it? I paid no attention to her anymore, but instead was enticed towards the Starbucks just by the thought having a cup myself. I walked in. Gap bags filled the hands of shoppers as they stood on the long line. But before my sister put out the amber alert on me, I made sure to send her a quick text on my cell phone and without a doubt she responded by saying to hurry up and meet her at the Broadway Toys R Us when I was done. I observed the vibe of this well-known coffee shop. The workers wore their green aprons and made sure to keep a smile while serving up orders.
“One tall caramel macchiato in a grande cup with extra whip, ready to go,” yelled an employee whose name tag read Charlotte.
“That’s me,” said a lady from another corner and moved up to grab her drink.
“Happy Holidays,” said Charlotte.
But just like the majority of people engaged in the New York City holiday rush, the lady neglected to respond and instead plunged back into the sea of people located outside of the store. “Excuse me, miss! You’re up,” said another employee looking at my direction.
This one was a male. A very handsome male too. I turned my camera off and put it in my pocket before walking up to him. He had smooth skin and freshly shaved face. He had to be around 18 or so and his tag read Ryan. His eyes had a hint of both hazel and dark green. But they glimmered in the lights. He looked at me with a shiny, white smile.
“So what’s your order?” he said.
“Well Ryan, I think I’ll go for a gingerbread latte instead” I said back in response.
He looked a little baffled at the fact that I knew his name so I signaled my eyes towards his name tag.
“Oh, I was wondering how you knew that,” he laughed
“What size?” Ryan said keeping his smile.
“I’d like a vente please.”
“Okay, coming right up,” he said and then shouted my order.
“Got it,” replied Charlotte.
“Well, I would say ‘next’, but everyone seems to have left the store for a while to watch the carolers sing. And here you are looking as if this is your first visit to Times Square,” he looked out the door.
I turned around and surely the Christmas carolers were wearing gorgeous red outfits decorated with stars and Santa hats to top it off. They were surrounded by a decent sized crowd filled by both adults and children alike.
“I’m going to assume you’ve seen me around here before,” I said.
“Yeah I have! And each time you look just as mesmerized as people who are just visiting for the very first time. Like a tourist.” he said smiling back.
“Well if you’re like me, you’re just into the holiday spirit,” said I, looking back towards the carolers.
Ryan looked amused.
“No, people aren’t into the holiday spirit, they’re into the money that it brings. It’s all a big scam. Commercials aired for the latest electronics and fashions. Nobody cares about the holiday spirit. They care about the money. Look at the carolers’ feet.”
I looked through the Starbucks glass door and at looked down at the foot of the carolers. Sure enough there was a case filled with green bills at the bottom of their feet.
“Maybe their going to give the money to charity. C’mon, give them the benefit of the doubt.” I looked at him.
I carefully observed his eyes as he was staring out the door the coffee shop.. He seemed very outspoken and looked like he’s the type that wouldn’t mind speaking on camera.
“Yeah sure, if we give them the benefit of the doubt, why not just give the politicians in office the benefit of the doubt too. Like when the tsunami hit in Thailand, you really think all the money sent towards that cause went to those people?” he said sharply looking at me.
“Half of it probably did. But I don’t think they’d scam people and not give the money to the cause.”
“Yeah well if I give 10 dollars to charity, I want at least 9 dollars to go to the cause. The remaining dollar could go to them.”
Ryan looked at me sensing the change in the atmosphere.
“Look, I’m sorry if I’m coming off too strong. I just wish people would honor Christmas for what it’s really about. Christmas is no longer about spending time with family, it’s about rushing to that Toys R Us over there so we can get the new Nintendo or something.” He shrugged his shoulder and turned around back to face me.
“Okay, well I disagree. Not all people think like that. Not all people just use Christmas as a way to make money, geez lighten up. And I’m not angry at you. If anything I admire the fact you’re so outspoken.” I smiled.
“Thanks, my friends get sick of me all the time. But certain things can’t be left unsaid. Someone has to do something or at least spread awareness about what’s going on.”
“Here goes your gingerbread latte. Enjoy,” said Charlotte as she set the cup right beside me and walked away.
I pulled my gloves on and slipped them into my right pocket to keep my camera company then grabbed the latte. I felt my phone vibrate and picked it up. It was a text from my sister telling me to hurry up. But she could wait. I put my phone back in my pocket and focused my attention back to Ryan.
“It’s okay Ryan. Being outspoken is a good thing and if you’re friends don’t understand that then ‘oh well’.” I said after taking a sip of my latte.
“But I just hope that Mr. ‘Christmas is for family’ is going to actually be spending time with his family this holiday season.” I said.
“You know it... but if you don’t mind, I’d like to spend some time with you as well.”
Then without even waiting for a response, he pulled out his cell phone and handed it to me.
“How’d you know I was going to say yes to that?” I asked.
“Good instinct I guess. The same way you just happen to know that those carolers are going to be giving that money to charity.” We laughed.
I grabbed the phone and began punching in the digits to my phone number and gave it back to him seconds later. He looked down at his phone.
“Tasha? It fits you a lot. Pretty name!”
“Well, Ryan, I only give you permission to call that number if you agree to voice your opinion of gay marriages on camera. I’m doing a documentary on that and I’d love for you to be a part of it.”
I looked up at him.
“Ooh, someone’s going to the controversial topics. It’s a deal Tasha!”
Before I could even look up and smile at him once more, I heard a vicious knocking on the window pain of the Starbucks coffee shop. Ryan and I looked over and sure enough it was my sister and niece urging me to get out.
“Well, I gotta go Ryan. Happy Holidays! And don’t forget our deal!” I said as I made my way to the door.
“I won’t! Oh and Tasha, one more thing”
I looked back.
“Don’t forget to look like a tourist.”
And with that, I walked right out of the door in anticipation for his holiday call.