So I recently came into possession of a ute. Really not sure what I’m going to do with it, since I work in the city, in an office. I’m not even sure it would fit in one of our designated parking bays, and I take the train in most days anyway. That, and…well, everyone would think it was hilarious, me pulling up in a ute when they’re all driving their fancy sport-ish cars.
So now I have to figure out what to do with this thing. I know a few people around the cafe who do that sort of work- you know, ute stuff- so maybe one of them could take it off my hands. In fact…most of the people around here do that kind of thing. I’m only in here in the mornings, and I only stay if I can get myself up in time.
I guess I don’t know the people here all that well, not enough to know if they’d be interested in a ute with removable service bodies. There’s also a really nice aluminium toolbox on the back if anyone’s reading the guestbook and they’re interested. Going really cheap, because I don’t own a single tool outside of the tiny toolkit I keep in my garage.
I really just need to ask Johnny. He’s like one of those innkeepers you meet in old video games who knows each and every person in the town by name and can tell you everything that’s going on. Like, suspiciously well-connected, except this is real life and he’s just a rarity. Seriously, I just need to ask and I’m sure he knows someone around who needs a ute, especially in this crowd. There might even be a stampede, who knows?
Or maybe it’s a sign I need to quit my office job and follow my true calling as a purveyor of Melbourne’s best aluminium ute canopies. But let’s not go crazy…
I came to this country to look for gold. I found a number of other good things- really weird wildlife, great coffee and the know-how to barbecue basically everything- but no gold yet. I just reasoned that people in Australia had all lost interest in the gold craze, mostly because the market has moved on to other things. Coal, for example. And it’s not like the gold rush unearthed EVERY lick of gold under the soil, right? There had to be loads of it left.
Well, maybe. Haven’t found any of it yet, hence why I’m sitting in a coffee shop trying to make adjustments to my metal detector instead of returning to Seattle a rich man. So far I’ve managed to find a bunch of tin cans from the seventies, a cache of rusted coins and a lot of building sites. Makes sense, I suppose, all those steel and aluminium work platforms throwing off my readings. As it turns out, Melbourne has a lot of construction going on, hence all the work platforms, and hence why I’m trying to rework my metal detector to avoid certain types of metal that may be a bit more…common. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.
The guy who owns this place suggested that I go and look in Ballarat, which is a legitimate strategy if I get desperate. But I reason that if there was gold in Ballarat, there has to be gold elsewhere. That’s the thing about the formation of gold; it’s a random occurrence. And then there’s Ballarat, and I can guarantee that a million people are already scouring the place. It’s been picked clean, so I’m looking further afield. Also, they probably have aluminium platforms up there and I’d really rather avoid them.
So that’s why I’m down here, in this rather rural area of Melbourne, whacking my metal detector against the desk and desperately trying to make it find gold and not bailey ladders. We definitely have those back in Seattle. Useful as they probably are, they’re not going to make me rich.
I can’t be the only one motivated by classical music. Classical music is wonderful in general, but I work in copywriting, so I’m constantly writing product reviews and descriptions that can be so dull they drive you into a coma. That’s why I try to give myself as much extra kicking as possible. I’m here at the cafe (which has free wifi, thankfully!), I’ve got my extra-strong espresso, and my earphones are in playing some really terrifying classical music to keep me in a state of readiness.
My preference at the moment is with Beethoven- you really can’t beat him when it comes to pieces composed to get your heart thumping- but I’ve recently discovered Mussorgsky. Something must’ve happened in that man’s childhood, because phew, all of his music sounds like it was composed at gunpoint. Perfect for me, though!
I’m on a major project at the moment, actually. I’ve been commissioned to write reviews for all kinds of Melbourne steel products, and since I’m no steel expert I have to do my research. I’m technically kind of a foreign correspondent, since the company is in Hungary. Why am I writing on Melbourne-based steel? No idea. But it’s a big job and I’m their only correspondent in Melbourne, so I got first dibs on the job. Helps that I live in a pretty industrial area, so there are just steel lintels and fabrication all over the place. Also, a really nice cafe that doesn’t make sense with the surrounding area.
It makes a lot of business sense, don’t get me wrong! This place is a hub, but also a place people pass through a lot…and everyone wants a great coffee. So you get a mix of locals, regulars, passersby, construction workers and visitors. I’m a regular, myself, but it can be hard to get a table in the peak times.
Anyway, better focus on these quality Melbourne structural steel fabricators. Maybe I can just talk to one of the construction guys. I know pretty much ALL the regulars, and Johnny definitely knows them all.
You don’t realise how harmful stereotypes can be until you find yourself on the wrong end of one. Oh, this one’s mostly true, as many stereotypes are…but it can make working in the wrong industry very painful. Maybe it’s my fault for picking the wrong career, and I guess being here really codifies it. Everyone at the docks goes to the local greasy café for lunch, where they have fried egg sandwiches and potato cakes while swilling down terrible coffee. And here I am, here at Johnny’s…and I drove twenty minutes to get here, because my tastes are just higher.
What, a person can’t have an appreciation for lovely décor, quality coffee and a quiet reading spot and ALSO be into stainless steel marine fabrication? Melbourne workers aren’t all tattooed tough guys. Sure, being tough helps with the job. I’m just tough in my own way, and it doesn’t involve a lot of spitting and swearing. People give me lip all the time about how I shape my designer stubble, or how I’ve dyed my quiff magenta, or how choose to work with a flask of Earl Grey by my side constantly. If I’m a good marine welder, what does it matter? I can do the job just as well as everyone else.
No one here in this café knows what it is I do, because why would they look at me and think that? I don’t wear overalls outside of the job. They probably think I’m a stage director, or maybe a hairdresser, because my hair really is on point. I have to get up so early. But those careers didn’t appeal to me at all. I saw my opportunity to spend my life making fishing rod holders and general welding, and I took it. It hasn’t yet made me any less appreciative of a good coffee. And no, the hair isn’t going anywhere. I’ve spent too much time trying to make it this good.
I love being one of the first to try this place. Johnny’s only opened…what, a month ago? And I was one of the first customers on the first day. This suburb was a cultural and coffee dead zone, unless you wanted to get it from a machine at the supermarket, so I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have something like this here. I NEED to work in public places, which people think is made because I work from home for a company in Hungary. Work in your pyjamas all the time! Nope…I need the vibe. And Johnny’s has it all, mostly.
I do have a few suggestions. And just last week I was writing on the benefits of having a roof tile repair expert from Melbourne come and check out your roofing situation, because people have been dealing with serious injuries from loose tiles, especially in storm season. This place has some nice timber beams inside, but I noticed on the path outside that there are loose tiles smashed on the floor. It might not be so popular if someone was heading in for their caffeine fix and got clocked on the noggin. Of course, you’ve got Irma’s Wool Supplies and that model plane place on either side, so it could easily be their problem. But still, roof tile restoration. It’s where it’s at. I bet the roof tiles on here are brand new.
I learn a lot of weird stuff from my writing. Just last week I was writing an article on mixing your own makeup, even though I’ve never worn makeup (except for that one school play, where everyone wore it). I also wrote an expose on why Thomas Edison wasn’t the true inventor of the lightbulb, when I’m not usually into history. This job takes me to strange, exciting places, I go on a bit of a knowledge bender for a week…and this week, it’s roof tiles. I’m practically an expert on proper roof tile restoration practices around Melbourne, so maybe I can help out my favourite café. Until I start writing on ballet techniques, or something.
I guess this place has a nice bit of an airy feel. And by that I mean it’s, like…I don’t know, nice and airy, whatever. Like you’re outside. All the pot plants really do help to create that illusion, or whatever.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in here, but that’s less to do with the coffee (which is pretty great, I’ll admit) and more to do with how I don’t want to be around my relatives. When they’re not discussing the family business AGAIN, they’re at each other’s throats, probably in relation to the family business. I miss my barns. Oh, and then we tried appeasing grandmother by building her a granny flat. Building in Tamworth requires permits, you know. We didn’t just knock a cubby-house together and call it a day, because we actually care about our elderly relative’s well-being. But then she acts like we’re uprooting her to the ends of the Earth, and rants about how she doesn’t want to leave Melbourne because it’s the centre of culture. Her words, not mine! And then we ask her exactly how she benefits from all this ‘culture’, and Granny doesn’t know because she hasn’t gone to see a play since the 70’s when Cads first started showing. I think it put her off forever.
So now we have an empty granny flat that is probably going to be turned into a storage house. I TOLD everyone that Granny wouldn’t want to move all the way to Tamworth. But they’re all caught up with this family business rubbish. I certainly won’t be taking it on; my brother is the businessman of the family. I want them to leave me alone, they won’t, and so I’m sitting here in the coffee shop, staring out the window at the bleak weather and pretending I have homework. Maybe we can convert the flat into a teenage retreat. Tamworth is ALL about teenagers and retreating, probably.
So it’s me, Carla. I suppose this isn’t the worst idea Johnny has ever had, maybe just the second-worst after thinking he could get a cafe off the ground in modern Melbourne without any business experience. But that’s why his loving cousin Carla is here to help out in the kitchen, until…well, whatever happens. So here I am on the blog, after Johnny bugged me for a week. Maybe now he’ll lay off!
Okay, so looking at the place, it’s going far better that I’d have expected. A few times I’ve been run off my feet in the kitchen, and we don’t even do lunch items! I remember when this place was being renovated, aluminium work platforms all over the place and sawdust flying everywhere. To tell you the truth, I came once and that was about enough to convince me that this was never happening. The place was a dump, I’m telling you. And I know, that’s why all the aluminium platforms were there, to make it better, but…there’s a difference to be struck between renovations and whatever they were trying to do. Honestly, it looked like they should’ve just knocked the place down and started from scratch.
And yet, here we are. I will admit, I’m impressed with what Johnny managed to make of the place in such a short time. It’s actually the kind of place I’d come and sit down with a friend, if I wasn’t working here. As it is, I see too much of the place as it is, and I just know my hard-working soul wouldn’t be able to cope with seeing somebody else clattering around the kitchen in a tizzy. I’d be up and helping, and that’d be it for a coffee date. So now, I’m just waiting around to see how it goes. Now that the folding platforms steps are back where they belong, I’m finally starting to see the place as it is. It’s okay, I guess…