Sometimes I’m serving and I just think…I shouldn’t be hearing this. I mean that people come in here and talk about sensitive stuff at the top of their lungs, and I never know what to do. Ask them to stop? Walk around with a suspiciously-blank look on my face to make it seem as if I don’t care? Johnny would know what to do, but…well, he’s busy now. I hope he’s back soon though, because it turns out this cafe is a magnet for weird, and I can only take so much.
Doesn’t help that I have the memory of an elephant. A couple of people had clearly come from court, or somewhere similar. Talking about how they were going to have to hire business lawyers from Melbourne since the case was getting out of hand, and I’m trying to put down the vanilla slices and cover my ears at the same time. Actually impossible, you know. So they’re talking about property law, and land acts, the meetings they’re going to have with the property lawyers, what their plan is moving forward with the firm…
Maybe they don’t care. Maybe it’s fine, and I’m just overreacting, but if you heard them talk, you’d think it sounded very secretive. And maybe it’s not. But maybe it IS. It SOUNDS very secretive. And if I’m hearing secrets that I’m not supposed to, perhaps people will come knocking on my door to try to find out what I know. Terrible people.
Maybe I should find an actual property lawyer who practices in Melbourne. I have this friend who does civil law, and she said that confidentiality in civil cases it totally different from criminal law, here everything has to be hushed up and people have to paint pictures inside the courtroom.
In the meantime, I’m just denying everything. I just serve coffee and vanilla slices, your honour. I don’t listen to private conversations like a *nosey* person.
I don’t really like kids, or children, or babies. So yeah, I can really understand the struggle of having a baby dumped on your doorstep and then feeling like you have to take care of it. I mean, not the second part. If someone dumped a baby on my doorstep I’d take it to the police, answer whatever questions they had and then I’d be off into the night. I have…absolutely no time for any of that nonsense. I still avoid tables with a crying baby while I’m working here, and there’s Johnny feeling like he has to take care of a random child.
Uh, no thanks. We deal with enough noise here, thanks. No, random salesperson who refuses to say what company they are part of…we do not need any windows. Our decorative window glass is already done, see? Johnny got some people in to give us this swirling pattern with coffee beans…heard to describe. There are pictures on the website. But for real, since decorative windows became big, the phoney companies have grown to the point where they don’t even care if you’ve already got it. Not that it’s a ‘company’…companies have websites. This is just people jumping on the bandwagon to make a quick buck.
Johnny is good at dealing with these people. Like, he just has a way of getting rid of them in a way that doesn’t give them what they want, but also makes them leave, pronto, while keeping them in good spirits. People skills: that’s what it’s all about. You’d think it would be coffee making, but you’d be wrong. Anyway, I wish I had that level of people skills, but instead, I just have to blank the guy until he gets the idea that he’s not getting anything from me. Him, and the guy who tried to get us to swap our coffee beans, and the lady who basically tried to join us into a cafe pyramid scheme. I’m learning. But, like…just look. We already have commercial decorative window glass, from a real company. Why are you still trying to sell it to us!
Some people are truly gifted. And yeah, sometimes that gift is obvious. For example, I’m good at baking. Not being immodest; I’m just aware of my own talents. People rave about the coffee here a lot, but if it weren’t for my slice and cakes, this place wouldn’t be half of what it is. Sold out every day!
Or take my brother. Car nut, knows everything, and if I ever need help with something, he’s on it like a shot.
And then there are some…who can hold a conversation. Talk, talk, talk forever. And not just that, but they can take the most interesting subjects and destroy them through pure attrition. Jenny is one such lady. What a gift, that woman. I HAD been interested in dry needling courses in Australia before today. My younger sister is the alternative sort, Mum is always on at her to find something that suits her, and this honestly just seems like her thing. I was going to tell her about it when I got home; she’d be so great as well. Hands of a surgeon. Made the mistake of mentioning that to Jenny before she had a chance to fill her face with vanilla slice (which is usually when I make my getaway).
“Oh, dry needling, so interesting! Did you know it’s not like acupuncture? A lot of people think that. I hear they have courses in Auckland. Oh, did you hear, people are protesting because they think it’s plagiarized? I’ve always thought I’d be very good at that sort of thing. Just yesterday I was playing pickup sticks…”
And no more work was done for about fifteen minutes. Jenny doesn’t even get it when I have a line of customers at the counter. Nightmare.
But now I know there are dry needling courses in Christchurch! How useful, thanks Jenny! I don’t remember anything else, because there was just so darn much of it.
What’s with all the people trying to sell solar panels recently? We’re a cafe; our energy needs are not massive. We’re open relatively normal hours, and we have mood lighting so it’s not like we’re blasting away with the energy-draining lumens. Johnny puts up with these door-to-door people far more than I ever could, I swear.
“YOU WANT TO BUY SOLAR PANELS?”
Dude, go somewhere you actually have a chance. Besides, unfortunately for him I actually know people in Melbourne’s commercial solar industry, and they’re not creepy door-to-door salesman. What would even happen if you went with one of those sham artists, anyway? They’d probably just install some painted white squares on your house and say that your energy needs will be whittled down to nothing in 2-3 years. By then you’ll probably have forgotten they were even there.
I’m all for solar power, by the way. The real stuff, that is, that actually starts to shave off your power needs. My parents had a few panels installed WAY back, when it wasn’t all that trendy or ‘in’. Maybe they could just see which way the wind was blowing, because now they pay basically nothing for their energy and everyone around is jealous. I don’t understand why more people haven’t gotten solar panels, especially for large business with high energy needs.
Makes me wonder what things will look like in the future. Maybe all our roofing will just be solar panels, with turbines sticking out of everywhere to maximise energy usage. I bet people will find a way to make that sort of stuff look good. I read recently that they’ve managed to make solar panels into roof tiles. They’re pretty expensive at the moment but in a few years everyone will have them.
But for now? We’re okay here in the cafe, thanks. It’ll be a long time before Melbourne’s industrial solar power becomes necessary to brew a few lattes.
We HAVE to do something about the soccer mums. Oh, you know exactly what I’m talking about; everyone does. They always come in here after the games, bored children in tow, and talk incredibly loudly about how their little Spencer, Cooper, Brianna, Sally-Anne or Dante just kicked the most AMAZING goal, or how they just smacked the ball so hard that it flew out of the arena, or something equally silly. Oh, and I really do mean loudly. Everyone must know, even if little Jemimah was the one responsible for setting up the indoor cricket nets.
“Oh, she has SUCH a way with her fingers, does Jemimah. So dextrous. Everyone at the cricket club says it; they won’t even set up until Jemimah gets here. She’s going to be a professional at setting up cricket netting, just you wait!”
Give me a break. Everyone has to have a thing nowadays. Even if your child isn’t actively part of the sport, they’ve got to have a gimmick. the only alternative is NOT showing up to the sporting events and not getting to gossip with all the other Mums. And then they all come in here because it’s the only vaguely nice place around, and I have to deal with them talking right over me when I try to take their order. Not that I don’t already know…it’s a round of skinny, soy, half-strength lattes with no sugar. Got to keep up the trend!
I mean, I’d be pretty happy with my child either way, whether they’re out there on the field or setting up the sports nets. In some ways, the net thing would be even better; shows that they’re not in it for the glory, and they just want to help out.
But would I go into a cafe a try to make extra sure that EVERYONE knows what my child did? No. I’d have more tact than that.
Initial impressions: the food menu could be more expansive. A chic café needs decent coffee, first and foremost, and this place does seem to have that one down. Still, the next thing I want to see are some actual lunch options. The cakes look rather nice, the slices adequate, and I’ve spied a few menu items that could pass for brunch. I’m not saying every nice café needs to double as a restaurant, but as a food critic, I know quite a bit about what people want, and the flavour of the month is brunch. Brunch, everywhere! Eggs benedict, quiche Lorraine, light sandwiches and wraps! COUSCOUS!!
I can’t help being critical; it’s my job. And when I’m nitpicking this much, it’s a good sign. I just came all the way from Frankston, and…oh my days. Such things I have seen in some of those seaside cafes. I wish I’d had business cards for all the places that did pest control in Frankston, because I could’ve saved myself the trouble of actually tasting anything. No soggy sausage rolls or watery coffee; I could’ve just dropped the pest control card, given the manager a pointed look and walked out.
I’m no health and safety inspector, of course, but part of the food critic’s job is to assess the surroundings. You can be served the most beautiful vanilla slice in the world, but if the table is covered in crumbs and there’s slime leaking from the walls, it all means nothing. A couple of places genuinely needed pest control- not because of rats, fortunately- but there shouldn’t be the slightest hint of a creepy-crawly in the house, and I saw several. Ants, spiders…and that’s just the first wave. A crowd attracts a crowd, as they say. You have to get on those pest problems early.
Maybe that’s an option. I’m off to Rosebud next. Perhaps I need to scout out the Rosebud pest control services, procure some cards and…well, it’ll just save time on a clearly hopeless visit. Savage.
Mum only has three taste buds left, but she stills loves coming to the café. In fact, we’ve had some lovely times in here ever since it opened. We used to drive all the way to Ethel’s Teashop out on the fringes of town, mostly because Mum and Ethel are old friends, but I’m so glad we can come here now. Ethel is a cranky old bat and her tea just taste like she dropped a few gum leaves in some water.
There’s also the fact that Ethel’s place just never seemed safe. It was basically a shack in the middle of nowhere, and her husband is an arborist for fun, so you could always hear him chopping down trees on the property. I’m not sure if he ever used to do arborist work around Melbourne– as in, as an actual job- but now he’s slightly off his rocker and just chops down trees because he thinks its fun. Mum and I used to go there on Friday mornings and politely listen to Ethel complaining about something or other (mostly the government or her ungrateful children), sipping our leafy water and wondering if our lives would soon be ended by a random act of unlawful tree lopping.
Maybe one day he’ll get too old to pick up a chainsaw, and thus take up tree pruning instead. Until then, I’m quite happy here at Johnny’s. The place is done up like a proper, inner-city café, the coffee is nice, there’s always something soft and jazzy playing…and we don’t fear for our lives. That’s probably the best part. Mum has destroyed her sense of taste from the period of her young life where she ate curries for breakfast lunch and dinner, for a period of sixteen years, but she still just about likes the coffee.
That’s the key to a good café atmosphere in Melbourne. Tree lopping kept to minimum. Also, friendly service.
One thing I really like about cafes: you can go to them alone, and it’s not weird. I mean, you usually need something to do, which is why I’m on my laptop right now, but there are a number of ways around it. Bring a book, write in a notebook (makes you look extra studious), or bring a miniature chess board and play a game with yourself. That’s, like…next level impressive.
Right now I’m looking up terms related to the Melbourne stainless steel fabrication industry, because I am in deep trouble and I’ve no idea how I’m getting myself out of it. Well, short of moving to Abu Dhabi. I hear it’s nice this time of year…
I saw an ad online and I was a little too hasty to reply. I’ve been single for ten years and it’s really eating away at me coming home to my empty apartment every day. My job pays well, but it’s pretty boring and every day is the same: train, office, idle lunch chatter, end of the day, go home and wallow in loneliness. So when a girl popped up in my dating profile asking for a good, polite man involved in the stainless steel fabrication industry…I didn’t think it through before replying. We’ve had three dates, and every time I’ve had to bluff my way through, pretending I know all about snapper racks, fishing rod holders and the proper way to construct a plate alloy boat. I’ve actually been desperately committing a few key sentences to memory before each date and then getting away with it by asking her all about herself for most of the time.
So SHE’S okay with it, and I love hearing her talk because she’s the greatest girl I’ve ever dated, but when will the charade end? Do I have to quit my job and go to work in marine fabrication?
Oh…oh, that’s an idea. I mean, I’m sick of what I do right now. It’s wearying and I hate it, and I need a change. Maybe I can change careers, confess everything and she’ll be smitten by how I’ve changed my entire life just for her. I’m a connoisseur of plate alloy boats now! Maybe then, Stella will truly love me for who I am…and not who she thinks I am. Worth a shot.
Sometimes I like to sit by the window of the café and imagine what people have written into their will. Not in a weird way. Just like, taking a good, long, unflinching look and trying to imagine all of their earthly possessions in the form of writing.
Can’t help it. I have strong understanding of everything to do with Melbourne probate and now I have will-o-vision. Back when I did the job- as in, when I interned at a place for three weeks- I used to do the same thing with the clients who came into the office. Best thing there was that they’d actually go on to draft a will, and I’d know if I was right…which most of the time, I was. Definitely one of my better talents, although I was asked to leave after those three weeks because apparently I was making people feel ‘uncomfortable’. Never figured that one out. I’m pretty happy with my current career, though. Coffin-making is just rewarding in so many ways that people don’t realise.
I still think about wills a lot, though. I used to be in the industry, so I’m well aware of how important it is the leave all your earthly possessions in safe hands. Also, if you’re making a will, you should specify what kind of coffin you’d like, if that’s your thing. A lot of people don’t, and they end up getting something that’s pretty cheap and doesn’t really suit their personality. That’s also a service I offer: I can look at a person and tell you their exact coffin size and type. I don’t share it unless people ask- someone told me that wasn’t a good thing to do, especially to strangers in a café- but it’s pretty useful.
It’s come up a couple of times in here, though. People around the café who need to make a will, and don’t know a single place around Melbourne for estate planning strategies. I help out however I can, you know?
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…