I am not lost…

July 8, 2016

Tales from the Café: Only in the Movies

Time: Saturday, 11:05 pm

It was way past when we should have left, and yet…

And yet. The mopping still wasn’t done–though Dana was almost through with it–bits and pieces still needed to be picked up, and I swear the huge party we’d been working with all evening had only left something like seven minutes earlier. An hour after we closed. There was very little good to be salvaged from this day.

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June 17, 2016

Tales From the Café: Out of the Mouths of…Customers?

Time: Friday, 3:15 pm

I may not have any of my own, but I know if you hang around kids long enough, you’re going to hear some crazy stuff. The Internet has lists of creepy or clever things kids have said with absolutely no prompting. I’d put it out there that it’s not just kids who say these things. I mean, look at politics. Some things that come out of people’s mouths…

That’s not the point. The point is I’ve heard all kinds of people say all kinds of ridiculous stuff. But I’m not sure anything quite beats the woman who was talking to Zöe.

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May 27, 2016

Tales from the Café: Amazing the Things You Find

Time: Tuesday, 9:16 pm

It was almost time to leave. All of the customers were already gone–a small miracle, given that there was a strong tendency to hang around well past closing time–so we were getting a little extra cleaning done in our “free time.” I was over cleaning the wood portion of our floors, so I could only hear murmurs from the crew cleaning our couch chairs on the other side of the café.

I didn’t envy them their job. Those chairs had to be a disaster. Who knew when the last time they’d been cleaned was?

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May 13, 2016

Tales from the Café: Commonly Heard Phrases

Time: Every day I come into work

Every job has its own set of phrases that make you feel like you’re a broken record. Mocha Time has quite a few. Between what I hear the customers say, and what I say on a regular basis…

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May 6, 2016

Tales from the Café: These Slip-Resistant Shoes Were Made for Walking

Time: Saturday, 2:46 pm

I hate working brunch. (To be fair, most of us hate working brunch, so this isn’t just me talking.) I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s chaotic and loud and there are too many people around. Added onto this, I was working on the patio, so I had some of the longest treks from kitchen to table.

I liked the exercise I got from it, but I have to admit that it’s still tiring.

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April 8, 2016

Tales From the Café: Familiar Faces

(Alternately titled: You Probably Think This Post Is About You)

Time: Friday, 8:55 pm

It was finally almost closing time after an incredibly hectic day. Zöe had locked the front door, and all but the last few tables had filtered out. Despite the chaotic nature of the evening, I was in a good mood. None of my tables had been nasty, a couple left very nice tips, and my leg had finally stopped hurting from where I smacked it into a corner almost a week ago now.

I must have been humming under my breath, because I looked up from my sweeping and saw Kacey grinning at me. “What?”

“Is that one of your new songs?” It was no secret that I was a musician, and I’d lately been buckling down on actually getting some original stuff written. “I like it.”

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April 1, 2016

Tales from the Café: High Turnover Rate

Time: Thursday, 3:49 pm

“Yesterday was Meghan’s last day,” Autumn said, leaning back against the counters in front of our coffee pots. It’s the height of the lull between lunch and dinner, and we’re each waiting on something before we can move on to our next task.

“Yeah, I know.” I sighed. “And I guess James from back of house is gone now too. Wondered why I hadn’t seen him lately.”

“Well, and you heard about Maia too, right?” My expression must have said it all, because she continued. “She put in her two weeks the other day.”

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February 19, 2016

Tales from the Café: Tabula Rasa

Time: Monday, 1:48 pm

I was scheduled to come in at 2, but I figured jumping in a bit early was never going to be a problem. The rush was slowing down, and I could tell it had been a doozy, just from how much still needed to be done and cleared. James, our general manager and current manager on duty, waved me in. “Hi, Hunter.”

“Hey James. Mind if I clock in early? I’ll start helping bus and stuff.”

“Sure, go ahead.” He ducked into the office, and I rolled my shoulders, tapping my number into the computer. I could see a few of my coworkers toodling around, taking out dishes and bringing empty ones back to the kitchen, so when a couple of ladies walked into the café, I ducked behind the counter.

“Hello, welcome,” I greeted them with a smile. “This going to be for here?”

“Yes please.” The two ordered their food, along with a pair of glasses of wine.

Handing them the receipt back, I slid a number next to it. “Here’s the number for your food, and I’ll bring the wine over in just a moment.” They thanked me, and I heard a call of “order up!” ring out from back in the kitchen. Man, for the rush being over, I still feel like we’re running around in circles. The women took their number and wandered off in search of a table, and I ducked into the kitchen and grabbed the plates. I could take out this order, and then pour the two glasses of wine. It wouldn’t take that long.

I delivered the food, scooped up a few dirty dishes I saw sitting on a nearby table, and headed back to drop them off and pour the wine. One glass of chardonnay, one of merlot. Easy enough. I grabbed two glasses and the bottles, measuring out the ounces before transferring them to their respective glasses. Picking them up, I went in search of a table with the number I’d given them.

I winced inwardly when I found them. They’d picked one of our tables with couches for chairs–and I couldn’t blame them, they were comfortable–but the table hadn’t been cleared off yet from the last people. Most of the dishes had been moved to one side (I had to wonder who’d done that: us, them, or the previous customers) so it’d be easy enough. I could drop off the wine, pick up the dishes, and all would be well. “Hi ladies, I’ve got you–”

They didn’t let me finish. One woman leveled her gaze at me, and I knew I was going to be having a bad time. “This table is disgusting. Why hasn’t this been cleaned off?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I know it’s inexcusable. Occasionally around now, we have a lot of staff leaving and coming, so a few things fall through the cracks–but again, I know that’s no excuse. I’ll make sure this gets cleaned up right now for you.” I moved to set the wine glasses down so I could pick up the plates.

“Ah…” She leaned forward, holding out a hand to stop me. “I’d like to have a clean table before anything of mine is on here.”

I bit my tongue hard. “Of course. I’ll be right back.” I walked away and set the glasses on the bar. James had come back out of the office, and raised an eyebrow at me. “I’ll be right back for those. Don’t let them go anywhere.”

“Okay.” I grabbed a rag and the sanitizing spray and headed back to the ladies’ table. I shifted the plates from their table to one next to me, so I could wipe down the surface.

“Thank you,” the other lady said softly. The first lady said nothing.

“Not a problem.” I was keeping my voice as even as I possibly could. I wanted none of my frustration to slip through. “I’m sorry it happened again. I’ll be right back with your wine.” Tucking the rag and bottle under one arm, I hoisted the plates up again and headed back to the kitchen.

James was watching me, bemused. “What happened?”

“Some plates hadn’t gotten cleared and they refused to take their drinks before the table was clean. Understandable, but they didn’t quite need to be as snarky as they were.” I tipped the trash into the bin and set the plates in the dish area. “Jesus was she angry.”

James shook his head. “Well, thank you for taking care of it.”

“No worries.” I picked up the wine glasses again–plastered a smile back on my face–and re-delivered the wine. All would be well.

A/N: I will note here that the real customers that inspired this story did apologize for being abrupt with me, and we all had a lovely conversation later. As usual, this story is altered enough that it’s only inspired by true events rather than mirroring them. (Also, I write these so far after the events that I forget most of the details!)

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