There’s a coffee shop I frequent near my workplace. This morning a girl I’d never met was working the register. Probably the most normal-looking Michigan girl you’ve ever seen, completely nondescript in every way. One of the regular gals was working the espresso bar. She has reddish-purple-dyed hair showing enough roots to suggest two months’ inattention and the fever eyes of an asylum patient. This particular morning those fever eyes were burning a hole in the back of normie girl’s head (let’s call her Norma) while I ordered my coffee. Fever eyes didn’t glance at me or blink, as if taking her eyes off Norma would result in a grievous cash-changing error that could bring down the entire establishment.
“Are you new?” I asked Norma, curious to test my idea.
“Yeah, I’ve been here two months.”
Two months is not “new” in this industry. Most kids with average IQs are up and running without supervision after about three weeks, and after two months even thards are getting to a level where our managers are becoming relieved that they won’t have to fire us (we adapt to new environments very slowly). Though Norma clearly doesn’t work very often, given I haven’t even seen her, coworkers will assume she’s competent based purely on her date of entry (a bad heuristic, but a very neurotypical one). So fever eyes (let’s call her Felicity) wasn’t eyeing Norma over that. It was a slow morning, so when I picked up my coffee on the other end of the counter I interrogated Felicity in a roundabout way.
“You wanna know what’s scary?”
“What?” she asked with perfect serenity, her eyes smoldering with Promethean confidence.
“I think when we put Lithium in the water it might be doing the same thing as when doctors overprescribe antibiotics. So instead of breeding superbacteria or something, we’re creating supercrazies.”
“Yeah, scary,” she said calmly, still unblinking.
“You ever wonder if you might be crazy?”
“No, never.” She shook her head slowly with small movements, eyes never breaking contact, not one microexpression fleeting across her face.
“I didn’t think so,” I said and left, feeling a bit sorry for Norma, a girl I still haven’t really met.