Alright so Trent, the guy that Johnny on-and-off employs to go down to the market and bring back some amazing fresh produce, was in again this morning and oh my goodness I’d completely forgotten what a git he is. Aside from the fact that he’s forever trying to hit on me and the rest of the waitresses in the creepiest ways imaginable, he’s just generally really irritating. He talks and talks and talks and talks and none of it is ever even mildly interesting, except for when he’s asking to take a ton of time off for some far fetched reason. I think last time it was because of his dream to become a professional skydiving instructor – I mean honestly.
Anyway, thankfully this morning he wasn’t so much trying out his “smooth moves” as boring us to tears with talk of the amazing aluminium ute canopies from Melbourne he’s got his hands on for his utes. I mean, really, I didn’t even know what a freaking ute canopy was until this morning and, looking back, that was a better time. It’s not even like I was listening, it was more that if you hear something repetitively, your subconscious can’t help but take a bit of it to heart. It just sort of seeps in whether you want it to or not, and between talk of those utes canopies and these aluminium toolboxes he got from the same place in Melbourne, I’ve learnt more than I ever wanted to about the subject.
Not to mention the fact that being preached at is very distracting when you’re actually trying to work. All I wanted to do was whirl around and scream ‘SHUT UP I’M TRYING TO WORK’ but the only thing that would have achieved would have been to scare the customers. I just can’t wait until he realises he hates real work and leaves again.
It’s looking pretty good around here. I never even knew Johnny had any flair for business, since his mother and I certainly don’t, but he’s made it work anyway! Previously, the closest I’ve ever come to owning a business is when we used to live in Brisbane and sometimes the boss would leave me in charge when he went away. I’ll admit, sometimes that didn’t involve all that much. We had a job, we got on with it. I mostly just inspected the jobs when we were done. We were Brisbane’s best tree removal people; we knew the trade and there wasn’t much to really direct! Though I suppose there was paperwork, which I did a little bit of.
Still, it wasn’t quite what Johnny’s managed to set up here. Maybe he had the talents for business, making coffee and interior design all along, and we should’ve encouraged him a bit more when he was much younger. Well, we DID tell him to follow his dreams, so I suppose that part worked. Could maybe use some trees being uprooted around the front, though…just saying. They’ve already got a nice tree-lined walkway leading inm but what if there were FEWER trees? The last thing to really round off the place is an asphalt driveway, or just a pathway, tree-free, or just with some of the nice ones left. That way people know they’re walking into something important! That’s what all our customers used to say up in Brisbane: a clear walkway completes a place, like a front door or a garden gnome, or perhaps a piece of freshly-cut grass. Not that I’m saying the café needs garden gnomes…that’d be a bit odd. But you understand my meaning: the path out there needs a good bit of stump grinding, for that clean look.
I know what Johnny will say. I’m retired, it’ll put my back out, I don’t have the equipment, the smell of chainsaw fumes causing my palpitations and is possibly the reason I just spent five months in hospital before retiring…but this is something I’d like to do to make the café complete. I used to do Brisbane’s esteemed land clearing for eighteen hours a day! I can tackle one little path…
While I love the ability to prepare food for people the way I love to eat it, and making a good cup of coffee for someone’s first sip of the day, by far the best part of my job is all the amazing people I am blessed enough to meet through my trade. Like I’ve said a thousand times before and will continue to say here again, I just love talking to people! And in my line of work, some of the people I have the pleasure of talking to are truly inspirational.
Take Rosa for example. Sitting at table 23 every morning at exactly 9 o’clock, Rosa has become a favourite of mine over the last several months. A travel blogger from Bolivia, she keeps me in the loop about her exploits around our country over her morning short macchiato. While I’ve managed to discover that she is, in fact, a Bolivian national, Rosa is always far happier talking about her work. Just this morning, for instance, we had a very relaxed conversation where she told me about the conference centres she’d inspected on behalf of the freelance writing agency she works for. All she wanted to talk about was the amazing places she’d been to, particularly Lorne, a small town on the Great Ocean Road. Rosa just simply couldn’t stop raving about Lorne, country Victoria, and the accommodation she stayed at. All my efforts to change the subject away from Victoria to her travels elsewhere in the world were, as usual, entirely in vain. She’s a very forceful woman, that Rosa. She steers the conversation where she wants to, with no thought of the will or interest of others. Regardless of what it is exactly she’s been through, I know that she’s suffered a lot. It’s truly wonderful to see her here, such a strong and confident young woman!
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to work here. I know, I know, that sounds actually really terrible and makes it out like it’s a horrible place here and it’s really not but I guess I’m just a terrible person. I hate having to work but I don’t have a choice. I’m still a student which means working at a cafe is probably the best I’m going to do, and Johnny’s a really, really nice guy and everything but I don’t think he understands that, for me, the only thing this job really does is put a check in my bank account at the end of the week. I hate that I have to put on that wide, smiley face cafe staff are known so well for and say ‘morning Lucy, soy latte with one again this morning?’ when I’m tired as hell from studying well into the morning. I spend every single shift running through the different ligaments in the arm while trying to make the coffee by rote. It just seems like there’s never enough hours in the day to work and study med and have a life to boot.
There are, though, a couple of customers that is always a joy to talk to. People that, for whatever reason, get me out of my slump just that little bit. Probably my favourite of them is this really nice, sweet, middle aged man I know only as Tim long-black. Tim long-black always stands in my cue at the desk and we always start with the same niceties before moving on to more interesting topics. Tim is an expert in property conveyancing, and he’s so good at that he has some pretty cool stories about the houses and people he’s worked with. A haunting here, a minor celebrity there, a story from Tim is a sure-fire way to brighten up any morning. He only ever skims over more boring subject matter, words like title transfer are only a part of his vocabulary, never the crux of the conversation. And it’s in moments like those shared between Tim and I that I think it really isn’t so bad, this job of mine. But then a grumpy office worker with an agenda will demand something of me and I’m straight back to thinking about other things. A lot of the time, it’s just easier to slog it through.
Hey, hi, how you going…yep, those phrases are my life now. That, and ‘what sort of coffee would you like?’ after people come up to the counter and say they’d like a coffee. Ha ha, that’s great, friend. But it’s not 1953 any more. There are varieties. You have choice, isn’t that great?
Ugh, really. Customer service is the pits, but at least I’m well-trained in putting on a smile and my makeup is always flawless. That’s where I’m heading: right up the big leagues of stage and TV. Once I get my diploma of specialist makeup, that’s me gone. Yep, see ya, bye bye, I’m off to make big bucks! Not in Hollywood, because I’m not completely stupid. No, I know I have to work my way up the ranks. That’s why I have this dumb job for now.
In a way, it really helps. While I’m doing my beauty course, I have to be well-practised in making people look like anything. So when I roll out of bed for an early shift (this place opens at 6am!) and I’ve been up until 3am doing wild stuff because I’m young, it’s a real challenge of my skills as to whether I can make myself look like a real, living human. Mostly I manage it, because I’m just that good. So yeah, not even finished the course and already it’s coming in handy! I knew it would. Most of the reason I’m doing it for the big name recognition and the amount of pay you get once you make it really big, though being able to look good without any effort? Well, I’ve always been pretty good at that anyway. I could use some sharpening, though.
So yeah, come get some coffee. Hopefully you’ll be distracted by how I’ve done my eyeliner or my foundation, so I won’t have to smile. You learn that kind of thing in a diploma in beauty therapy.
Have you ever thought of hiring out this place for private functions? I just think it’d be a great idea, what with everything being so…well, you know. The decor is nice, and shoving all the tables to one side would give you a great little bit of space to do whatever with. And in this area of Melbourne? You’ve pretty much got the monopoly. Heck, I didn’t even think that they’d even have a nice cafe, but here we are. I’m sitting in it right now. Just look at that, eh?
So anyway, these private function rooms. Most are in the Melbourne CBD, at least the really nice ones, for what I’ve seen at our company events. That’s nice and all, because…well, the CBD is central. That’s why they call it that. The Central Business District. Very convenient, all there in the title. But what if you didn’t want something quite so central? Like, way out here, for instance. People wouldn’t have to travel quite so much, you have the nice wooden beams and then there’s a coffee machine right there, so if people wanted coffee…someone could make them a coffee. Not that many people are into coffee in the evenings, you know? It’s a time for tea, since tea has the same amount of caffeine but you don’t actually consume the beans like in coffee (and they’re leaves) so it’s not so bad. Basically, all you’d need are some really good tea leaves and you’re set, though some canapes and general finger food wouldn’t go awry. Maybe a really decent sound system, a proper set of speakers…and yep, one of Melbourne’s greatest party venues is all set up, right here, ready to go! All the way out here, no one would have to travel. And then you could open after hour, and everyone would think it was just the best. Or hey, how about making it a nightclub? People love nightclubs. Especially nightclubs with really great coffee.
I really like the music in here. Sort of sounds like something that plays in your head while you’re walking around an Italian vineyard or something. It sets the tone for some light conversation, or even if you just want to come in here and chill, enjoy the atmosphere…which is what I’m doing. It’s good to get out of the house, even if you technically work from home.
It beats my original idea for the place when it was just a shambling ruin. And my idea was pretty great, so…yeah, kudos to Johnny. Oh, you want to hear my idea? Well, I wanted it to be an ice skating rink, possibly one of Melbourne’s finest. But not just any ice skating rink, with boring old ice and maybe some arcade games around the corner. Nope, I wanted an ice skating PARTY rink, complete with 24/7 disco lights, hired entertainers and some pumping beats!! Yeah, I know it’s not exactly the biggest place in the world…decent size for a cafe but not for an actual ice-skating place. Well, that would’ve been part of the charm! It would’ve been a small, private space for party hijinks, with the twist being that the floor was made of ice. If you wanted some punch or finger food, you’d slide your way over there. If you wanted to dance, you’d have to do it with skates attached to your feet. All the entertainers would’ve been qualified ice skating instructors for any party guests who needed to brush up on their technique. Basically, we’re talking about Melbourne’s most innovative party space since that Winter Wonderland blow-up theme park, but that thing travels around so whatever, am I right? This place would’ve been all Melbourne. Function rooms, private venues, so many extensions…maybe I let my imagination run away with me, but I still think it would’ve been great. Ah well…next time. And I have a cafe to hang out in during my brainstorming sessions!
Look, yeah, nice cafe you got here. I’m sure it’ll be really popular or whatever. But can we just talk about my wife for a moment? I was a bit apprehensive about this whole marriage thing, but I guess I got suckered into the whole ‘romantic’ thing. And yeah, being able to work with two incomes is something I can get used to, even if we’re supposed to be making all the decisions together, or…whatever. Something like that, anyway.
But I need my satellite TV. You don’t understand, we live all the way out in the boondocks because we couldn’t afford anything else. It’s just within the limits of Melbourne, digital antenna installation is still on the table, but our internet is just awful. So I can’t just get myself some sweet Neat-Flicks, because the screen just turns into a mass of pixels and it’s so buggy you’d think I needed an exterminator. So yeah, digital TV is all I’ve got, and the missus won’t let me get it at home. Too expensive, she says. It’ll take away from our relationship and hurt our chances of saving for kids, and that’s just something I don’t want to even think about. The only place around me that has satellite TV is Johnny’s, and that’s not near me exactly…I just drop in here on my lunch breaks and on the way back from work. It keeps me sane for now, but I’m running out of DVDs at home, normal television is just garbage (except People Who Are Just Lovely About Each Other’s Baking– didn’t think I’d be into that, but it’s surprisingly addictive) and I seriously can’t just read a book. Books are for losers.
So I need me some tv antennas. Anywhere in Melbourne who can help me out? Yeah, just…help a brother out in need? I can pay you in mateship, which is really the greatest gift of all.
Now, this is a nice cafe, don’t get me wrong. I’m here for the first time and the decor is nice, the coffee is passable and they weren’t playing Top 40 music, which is honestly a huge plus for the entire establishment. But I’m the queen of the garden fair, and I know how to give a place some dazzle. I’ve been growing flowers for 55 years in June, and that gives me just a little bit of expertise when it comes to brightening up a place, wouldn’t you say?
That’s why I left some quality iceberg roses on my table when I left, replacing that little dirty jar of daisies that was already there. Oh, I know…it was an effort, and most cafes don’t even have flowers on their tables, so it was better than nothing! But not much better, you know. When there’s so much more you could be doing, I feel it’s my duty to improve things. With my help, this cafe could really take off. And whoever sat in that seat after me, you’re very welcome; I hope you enjoyed the gorgeous gift of the iceberg rose, grown to perfection in my perfect garden of delights!
Now, I’ve already left my contact details so getting in touch with me shouldn’t be much of a problem. I’ll give you a tour of the gardens (2 hour minimum- wouldn’t want you missing out on anything!), you can select what you like and we can discuss things from there. After all, I don’t show this courtesy to just anyone. I really believe that with some garden life, this cafe could come to fruition organically. You already have the faded wood thing happening, and the tudor beams certainly enhance the atmosphere. Oh, but think of what it’d be like if the place was swimming with hyacinths! Bulbs aren’t too hard to grow, and I’d be popping into sample the coffee, see if it’s gotten any better, tee-hee! Anyway, Johnny has my details…I’ll be tending to my garden.
Hey all, Johnny again! Thanks for coming, thanks for using the digital guestbook and thanks most of all for spreading the word! I didn’t know the cafe would take off like it did, but it might be because it’s all shiny and new. I suppose I did find a sort of niche. Let’s see if it keeps going!
We’ve had some great suggestions here as well, such as making sure the coffee grinder is positioned on the other side of the counter so that it’s not right next to the table and thus grinding in someone’s ear. Thanks Amanda for that one! Together, I hope we can really make Johnny’s Cafe a place you can call a second home.
Another great suggestion: name badges! Custom ones, specifically. I’ve ummed and ah’d about this for so long, and I’ve decided that I really don’t want to spare any expense when it comes to making the place homely. There’s no use going for an ugly, cheap lamp and telling yourself that you’ll upgrade to something a bit nicer later. Because then you’ve just bought something twice. If I have the means I’ll do it to make people feel at home, and sure, I also just really like the idea of all my staff having some nice name tags. I’ve been filtering through designs and I’m thinking of taking it up with the customers. Maybe I’ll have a few jars out the front, and everyone can drop a bottle cap into the one they like. Currently, I think I’m leaning towards a coffee bean-themed name badge with the person’s preferred name in the middle, but obviously this is all up for suggestions. There are even a few that light up, but that might be a little bit distracting, maybe for nightclubs and nowhere else. Anyhow, those jars should be up in a few days, after which feel free to cast your vote!! Or look up some name badges online and shoot me some suggestions. You know where I’ll be.