Tales From the Café: Contents Under Pressure

Time: Tuesday, 6:46 pm

It was a quiet night. Normally we would have seen our first rush by now, but the café is only about half full, leaving most of us servers wandering around aimlessly under the guise of doing something productive. (Sometimes we actually do productive things, since pissing off the managers is usually a damper on the day.)

“Hunter?” I turned my head toward Meghan, one of the few servers who actually had a table at the moment. “Can you pour me something?”

“Sure.” A majority of my coworkers were all under twenty-one, and thus legally can’t pour their own alcohol. Most can carry it (though we do have a few under-18 kids around too) but it means that us old people get to pour all the booze. (I say that jokingly, but I’m one of the oldest people on staff, and I’m in my late twenties.) “Whatcha need?”

She looked down at the order. “A glass of the Riesling, and…an IPA.”

“Got it.” I grabbed a wine glass from the rack over my head and set it on the counter, going back to grab the beer and a pint glass from the cooler.

As I passed by the kitchen, Laura called out to me. “Can I get a runner for this?”

“Heard. Just gimme a sec and I’ll be right back.”

“Thank you.” I poured the beer, tossed out the bottle, poured a glass of the wine–since Meghan had gotten the bottle out for me while I was in the back–and grinned back at Meghan.

“Drinks up.”

She smiled back. “Thank you, Hunter.”

“Mm-hmm.” I spun on my heel to walk back to the kitchen, and saw that Autumn had already grabbed the order in the window. I headed over just in case. “You got that? Anything else?”

“Nah, just these two. I’m good.” She smiled and headed out, and I leaned in the doorway–

–just in time to see Nate and David, two of our kitchen staff, spit out obscenities and jump back as something made a loud gunshot sound and went spinning across the floor.

It took a moment before I finally registered what I was seeing: baking spray everywhere. All over David, all over the counters, all over the floor. And a single spray can, spinning gently by the door to the back entrance to the kitchen.

David cursed again, looking up at us. I, for my part, was standing there with both hands over my mouth, desperately trying not to burst out laughing. Nate was already laughing, and the few other staff members nearby were all frozen in horror. (Laura was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she’d stepped out back.)

“What the hell just happened?” I managed to croak out.

“The f–ing can…someone put it too damn close to the toaster.” David pointed to a small shelf directly above our conveyor toaster. I supposed in theory it was a safe place but…

“It’s still damn hot up there,” Nate coughed out, carefully moving toward the door. “I’ll go get a mop. Holy shit.”

I finally laughed at that. “Are you okay, dude?” I asked, looking over to David, who had grabbed a bar towel and was trying to get some of the butter spray off of his clothes.

“Yeah, I’m fine. F–ing hell.” He grumbled. “Who the hell put that there?”

“I have no idea.” Covering my mouth again, I glanced up to the order screen–blank for now. “I’m going to go warn everyone else that it’s not safe to walk in here for a bit.”

And make sure Zöe knows about this, because damn is she going to be jealous she missed that display. What an adventure.







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