Resident Crazy + Ten Cents

It seems that I may have overestimated Resident Crazy’s ability to scam. Today, she shows up, and pulls her typical, ‘oh I don’t have enough money’. She was short ten cents.

I ask, “Can you bring it tomorrow?”

“I can’t! Im really busy tomorrow!” She yells in reply. (This is bullshit by the way. I would bet five bucks she’ll show up tomorrow. Twice. This is the reason I thought she was scamming).

So I tell her sorry, but we can’t serve her. She starts freaking out, and the café was unusually full, so I think Oliver just wanted to shut her up, because he offered to give her a coffee anyways. (You might be saying, but Anna, you make tips, why didn’t you just cover the ten cents. The reason is very simple. I don’t want to set a precedent. I just know that if I do it once, I’ll have to do it every time, and she’ll start treating my tip bowl like her personal spare change. That’s what she does with her boyfriend because he’s willing to cover for her when she’s short. This is the same reason that Oliver doesn’t usually cover the change she’s short.)

This is where things went a little off. I expected Resident Crazy to sort of hesitate but then accept. Instead, she started freaking out, saying she couldn’t take the coffee. There were two customers behind her and she wouldn’t say yes to the coffee, even though Oliver was already making it for her. In retrospect, maybe she just wanted me to give her back the dollar fifty I’d already managed to get from her.

She kept going on over and over again that she couldn’t take it. Finally, one of the women in the café said “it’s an Easter present.” I parroted this, and looking confused, she went and got the coffee.

That’s not the worst part of the story. Oh no, the real kicker is this: she gets her coffee from Oliver, and she sits down, sort of fuming, and then I hear her loudly grumble “[something something] you’re ripping me off!” That’s right. He made up the difference on her coffee, and in return, she accused him of cheating her.

What a charmer.


Epilogue: she came in the next day. Twice. And she had a ten dollar bill, so I think she could have paid us back those ten cents.


That’s also not a Stereotype

Our favourite, probably crazy doctor was in today. A quick recap, this woman thinks they’re going to launch us all into space.

Today was another day of her chatting at us nonstop. She was on a different track today. Instead of insane, she was going for stereotypes. She started by asking Oliver if he was Italian. He said yes. She then starting blabbing about how she needed her tiles done, and that she had to find someone Italian or Portuguese because that was their specialty. She seemed to think that Oliver or a relative of his would be an excellent tiler (Oliver is a chef, for goodness sakes). Then she continued by stating that you can’t get just one guy to tile things, you’ve got to get 4. Because, as she said, at least one of them will try to cheat you. Or something to that effect. I think. That’s the other thing. She’s chattering on and on, and she’s almost whispering, so over the radio and the noises of the kitchen, not only is she stereotyping but she’s stereotyping really really softly, so that in a state of helpless “I-cant-hear-most-of-what-you’re-sayingness, I ended up just smiling, nodding and hoping that she’ll stop talking. Who knows how many rude and politically incorrect things I ended up agreeing with!


A Day’s Report: The Disgustingly Cheerful People and the Mystery Blood

The Disgustingly Cheerful People

Maybe I’m more jaded than the average Joe, but the customers we had at the end of today were the most disgustingly enthusiastic people I have ever seen. They were so happy I kind of had the urge to punch them.
The woman swanned in and cried out in joy to Oliver. She was so glad that she had found this little café and she had been so delighted last time that she had returned to show her husband. Then the husband walked in and they proceeded to have an excited conversation about how the husband was Austrian and Italy and Austria were neighbours and how the husband was going to somewhere in Italy too. It’s not that I begrudge Oliver conversations like this. He loves talking about his homeland and I don’t blame him. But the whole convo was so over the top excited. I feel like even Oliver was waiting for this conversation to end. Finally, they ordered and sat down, still blabbing about how cute the restaurant was. The husband went so far as to compliment the forks . That’s right. He thought our forks were amazing. So sturdy, etc.
Then one of the doctors from the building walked in and surprise! Disgustingly cheerful wife knew him! She lept up, said “OMG!” and hugged him, exclaiming how excited she was to see him. They chatted, and the doctor ordered his food. The wife said to Oliver “This man is amazing. Give him the best possible service!”
Then, while he waited for his food, the doctor sat down with them, and asked them how they were doing. Apparently, they had just moved, because he asked them how they liked their new home, and the couple responded “We love love love it! We’re absolutely in love with it!”
They continued like this until they finished and left. They were in absolute raptures over everything. The soup was the best ever. The lasagna was the best ever. It was so ridiculous. They were just so over the top.
I asked Reese, who was sitting in the café at the time if he found them annoying too. He described them as being “like something out of a movie”. He’s right. Nobody is that enthusiastic in real life. And in spite of their enthusiasm over the restaurant being the best thing ever, they somehow failed to leave a tip.

Am I too jaded? Is my intense dislike of these people an overreaction? Does anyone else agree that they sound super annoying?

Mystery Blood

I went to toss something in the garbage can, which was sitting next to the radiator. Our radiators are a vibrant shade of mustard yellow. As I was closing the garbage lid, I noticed a spattering of dark red on the radiator. It looked almost as if someone had taken a paintbrush and shaken it at the radiator. “Was that there before?” I asked myself.
I turned to Oliver and asked “Did you see that red paint by the garbage can?”
Oliver: “Yeah, but that wasn’t there when I brought the garbage can in this morning.”
Me: “So you didn’t put it there?”
Oliver: “No.”
Oliver grabbed a cloth, and some Windex, and started wiping it off. As he did, he turned to me and said with a look of disgust on his face, “It’s blood.”
We started speculating, but we couldn’t figure out who or what could have caused a spattering of blood on the radiator. Barely anyone had even come in, and hardly anyone had been near the garbage can.
“I hope the CSI doesn’t come asking me why there’s blood in my café,” Oliver joked. “I hope there aren’t any severed body parts in the garbage. Check to make sure you have all your fingers!”
And that’s it. I have no answers. We never did figure out who was bleeding so much that they managed to leave a splatter of blood on our radiator. And I’m not sure I want to know.


Resident Crazy + Your Local Napkin Hero

An unfortunate reality of being a tiny business is that you are painfully aware of the cost of every little thing. For example, one of Oliver’s biggest pet peeve’s is when people ask for something to go, and then sit down and eat it in restaurant. We have perfectly good plates, and if you take it to go, you cost him extra money on the take-out container. He doesn’t begrudge anyone passing through a take-out container. He just hates it when people who don’t need one ask for one.

Another big one is napkins. And this is where Resident Crazy comes in. One day, as Oliver and I are cleaning for close, Resident Crazy comes in and gets a coffee. She sits down to drink it. I’m washing dishes, and am considerably closer to Resident Crazy than Oliver, who is filling the drinks machine on the other side. However, it is Oliver’s hawkeye that notices first when Resident Crazy spills her coffee everywhere. Most people clean up by using one or two napkins to mop up. Resident Crazy starts cleaning the mess by taking *stacks* of napkins and wiping the table with them. When I say stacks, I mean 10 or more napkins, and trust me, the top ones weren’t even getting wet.

Oliver is obviously mentally counting the cost of this napkin mountain, and tells Resident Crazy to stop! And that he will clean it. Now Resident Crazy and Oliver have a love-hate relationship, and clearly that day, Resident Crazy was feeling hate. Besides which, because of her mental state, I get the feeling that she gets treated like a child a lot, even though she’s obviously over 50. She didn’t understand that Oliver was trying to rescue his napkins. She seemed to think that he was babying her, so she yelled “I CAN DO IT!” very angrily, stuffing wads of napkins into the garbage.

Irritated but defeated, Oliver went back to the drink cooler, muttering angrily to himself. Resident Crazy settled down, and sulked over her coffee.

But a couple minutes later, she tipped her coffee *again*! She lept up and began wiping the spill with MORE stacks of napkins. Oliver was calling at her angrily to stop it, but Resident Crazy wasn’t having it. She turned to me, and yelled, “Can you make him stop?!” This is something she says pretty often, as if I have any power over my boss, or as if he was doing something wrong. Usually, I just shrug at her, but even I was sick of how many napkins this woman was destroying. It was like she was literally cutting down trees, so I stopped doing dishes, grabbed the table-wiping cloth, and said “Here, [Resident Crazy], let me do that.”

Surprisingly, she let me, but she went on and on about how mean Oliver was, and could I please tell him not to be so mean to her? I looked her in the eyes and said “He’s just mad because you used so many napkins.” I picked up one of her stacks. “These cost a lot of money.” And then I waved my cloth at her. “This doesn’t.”

“Ok,” she said. “But he didn’t have to be so *mean* about it.”

I ignored her, and walked back to my dishes. Oliver had a look of relief on his face, and Resident Crazy seemed to have calmed down. I felt like such a hero in that moment. There had been so much tension in the room before, and now everyone seemed to have relaxed. It was such a good feeling.

I wish I could say that Resident Crazy learned a lesson that day about how valuable napkins are, but a few weeks later, Oliver told me that she had spilled something and then dumped a pile of napkins on it. Oh well. I guess there will always be crimes for this napkin hero to stop.

tl;dr: I wrote the word napkin so many times that it has lost all meaning


Sometimes I Silently Question Your Parenting

I’m just going to rant for a second, because I’m grouchy and this gets my panties in a knot.

We don’t get many parent-and-children combos at Café Italia, but the ones we do get always seem to run along the same vein. This feels like the typical parent-child interaction:
Parent asks: “What would you like to eat?”
The child yells “CHIPS!”
The parent says “Chips for breakfast? That’s no good,” but then hands the child the chips anyways.
Just this morning we had a father say to his daughter, “Chips? You think we’re still on vacation?” and then bought her a bag of Doritos. I don’t know if this behaviour is standard. Maybe they force their children to eat vegetables at home, and when they go out as a special treat, the kid can have whatever they want. I’d like to be optimistic and believe that this is the case, but sometimes I wonder if these people are just giant pushovers.
I will say this for those parents though: at least they seem dismayed when their child chooses the unhealthy option.  Today, we had a whole different kind of mother.
She walked in, and consulted with her children on what they wanted. Then she said to Oliver, “We’d like a hot dog and fries.”
It was 2:55, and the stove and grill had been turned off, so Oliver said, “No, sorry, the grill is shut down.”
“You can’t make a hot dog? What time do you guys close?” This woman said, in a bit of a combative tone.
“4, but we need to clean before closing,” Oliver explained. Then he pointed to the display case and started listing all the other options she could get: “Arancini, Mediterranean wrap, Panzerotti, a bunch of paninis, some other wraps.”
“So you can’t make fries?” the lady insisted.
“No,” said Oliver.
Now. I feel a little bad for this woman. She wanted to give her children a hot dog and fries. We weren’t closed, so it was probably a little upsetting to her that we had items advertised on the menu but weren’t serving them. But to be fair to Oliver, the number of customers who come through our doors after 2:30 is negligible. And the number who want a hot dog or fries are even less. So it doesn’t really make sense for him to leave all that stuff available.
Sighing loudly, she turned to her children and reluctantly asked if they wanted anything from the display case. After about 2 seconds, I heard her loudly say “You don’t want anything from the display case, do you”, in less of a questioning tone than an insistent one, and then she led her children over to the chips display. After perusing our meager selection for a moment, she stormed angrily out, with her kids in tow. As I was leaving for the day, I saw her walking with them through the parking lot, each child carrying a bag of Cheetos from the pharmacy.
This makes me really angry. It felt like this woman was willfully directing her children towards unhealthy food choices. Her kids were probably just about to hit their preteens, so they definitely weren’t at that stage where they would refuse to eat certain foods. Our paninis are delicious, and if your kid is really picky, they’re not that far off from a sub. I can almost guarantee that if she had encouraged her children to be adventurous and take a chance on a ham and swiss panini,  they would have loved it. Instead, she shut that down, encouraged them to say no to foods they probably weren’t familiar with, and handed them junk food as a substitute.
I’ve never had to raise kids, so maybe I shouldn’t be one to judge, but I just feel like this woman was doing something wrong. Anyone with me? Anyone disagree? Should I just mind my own business and leave the parenting to the experts (probably, eh?)?