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What the Airpot Saw

What the Airpot Saw

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Published by Jon Gold
A day in a cafe.
A day in a cafe.

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Published by: Jon Gold on Dec 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/05/2014

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1
What the Airpot Saw
Jon Gold, ©2014 Your faucet is leaking. Not just any leak,
it’s
a storm surge in the dish pit. You run to the tool box to fetch the big crescent wrench. But. The camo guy in the corner, usually content to mumble his visions to himself while sipping his all day coffee, starts yelling about the songs playing only in his head. The barista looks to you with trepidation. She
s a hero, but not that kind of hero. The faucet waits. You go to his table.
“Excuse me
,
 you say, to get his attention. He stops mid-bellow to look askance at you. This is the tricky part.
You don’t
say he
s bothering your other customers.
You don’t
suggest he take his stinky, unwashed self out of here.
You don’t
imply his theory about the Stones is
erroneous. You don’t re
cite any of the many valid reasons why he should not be disrupting the morning calm of your little café with his cavil. You simply ask him politely to keep his voice down. He casts a twitchy, schizoid eye at you
. “Jagger’s got the moves,
 not you.
He spits the words with vehemence. Then he continues his loud commentary on
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
.  A pile of eels slither around your gut as you wonder if he keeps a blade. The homeless often do, for protection. This could go very wrong, very quickly. You ask again, mustering courtesy and compassion through the psychic hurt this foul, pathetic, damaged creature has inflicted by disturbing your other customers,
and 
 suggesting that
Exile on Main Street 
 is not the
Stones’
 finest work.
“Please.”
 He stops mid-
gas, gas, gas
. His bottom lip trembles discernibly. Is that a tell? They say to watch the eyes to detect when an opponent will attack, but schizophrenic camo guy has eyes that twitch uncontrollably all over the place. Maybe, in his mind, he is always attacking. But nobody ever says anything about the damn lip. You do the mental calculations to determine if you have enough room to jump back out of the way if a shiv makes an appearance
. Probably not. You’ll just get t
ripped up in the table and chairs behind you. T
hen he’
ll be right on top of you, grinning his homeless schizophrenic grin, his knife going all stabby into your chest and staining the day with your blood and viscera. Outcome: unhappy.
You’re
watching
your funeral in your mind’s eye when
camo guy laughs loudly.
“Of course, captain. We’ll set a course for Indian country
 right away. Three klicks east-northeast, bearing two-seven-niner. Gotta maintain patrol discipline in Indian country, you know.
  And just like that the moment passes. He settles back down into mumble mode and sips his by-now cold coffee. The tension leaves your body, but it leaves you wanting a
grande
 whiskey at 8:37 a.m. You walk to the back of house and the something or other that awaits you there. Something pressing that needs doing. Oh, yeah, the impending flood.
 
What the Airpot Saw Jon Gold
2
But the door buzzer. You go open the delivery door. The egg man. He looks like the walrus, but you keep your snide remarks to yourself.
He probably wouldn’t get the joke
anyway.
“Sixty dozen eggs.” He announces as he
lets the hand truck drop harder than you would prefer.
“It’s supposed to be ninety.”
 He looks at his
invoice. “Oh yeah, look at that.”
 He crosses out 90 and scribbles in 60.  A bell rings twice. Food order in the window. The barista hero will get it.
“Do you have
the other thirty dozen
?”
 
“Sorry pal, you’re lookin’ at
what the warehouse give me
.”
 
“Can you bring them tomorrow?”
 
“Call the office.”
 You sign the invoice and remember the flood that is building in the dish pit. But the bell. It rings twice for a second time. The cook yells,
order up
!”
from the window at the pass. You peek out front. The
re’s a
line of people to the door waiting to order their morning fix. The barista hero is heroing. She rushes to make drinks, take food orders, and fetch bran muffins, bagels, scones, coffee cake. You run to the pass to expedite food to your hungry, impatient customers. Kelly, the resident gadfly who bends every ear that strays into the vast personal space he has carved out of your cafe, grabs your arm as you try to rush past. He wants to tell you what camo guy
did the other day when you weren’t here.
 As if you fucking care.
“I’m busy here
, Kelly
.”
 
“Oh sure, I’ll catch you later.”
 The hell of it is, he will. Food delivered to another table. Customer complains
, ‘this toast isn’t toasted enough.’
 
“Re
-
fire! Side of dark toast on the fly!” you bark at the window as you ring the bell.
 
“Dark toast on the fly,” comes the response from the kitchen.
 You make some drinks to help clear the line at the register. You deliver the re-fired toast. The customer thanks you. Two more tickets expedited. Laden with plates, you try not to trip on the toddlers playing on the floor near the pass. The moms are too engrossed in their klatch to mind their children. It would be easy to get pissed off at them, but you know they need this break, this brief adult conversation time,
lest they kill the young’uns
 or their husbands in a sleep-deprived, hormone-fueled, mom rage. You hurriedly wash a load of mugs because the barista hero is running low on clean ones. The leak
beckons but you can’t tend to it just yet. Then y
ou deliver more food and stop to bus a table on your way back.
You have an arm full of bus tub, but, “Excuse me.”
 
 
What the Airpot Saw Jon Gold
3
“Yes?”
 
“This toast is too toasted.”
 You realize it must be Toast Dissatisfaction Day.
“It’s
whole wheat bread
,” you say. “It just looks dark.”
 
No, i
t’s too toasted
 for my taste
.”
 You yell in the window and ring the bell,
Side of light wheat
toast on the fly!”
 No answer at the pass. The line cook is having a smoke in the alley. Million dollar idea:
Chef Smokes
. Forty half-size cigarettes in a pack. Because half-a-cigarette is all a cook has time to smoke. You dash into the kitchen. You make the toast. You bring it out.
Well,
I don’t want it
now 
,
 she says with no-tip-for-you inflection. You take away the toast and drop it in front of Henry, the resident book-worm, on his regular stool at the bar. Well past fifty, he spends his free hours in your café drinking coffee while reading everything and anything. Henry will discuss macroeconomics with you. He will discuss Cartesian duality. He will discuss M-theory. He works at a cheapo franchise breakfast joint six blocks away as a dishwasher, and he might well be the most well-read man on the planet
. “Your coffee is way better,” he tells you. “Food too.”
 Henry thanks you for the free toast. You grab the crescent wrench and head to the dish pit. But the phone.
Café Sunshine
,” you answer, “how can I help you?”
 
“Yeah, do you have anything gluten
-free on the menu?
 
“Lots of things.”
 
“Like what?” You
mentally exhale the sigh of Sisyphus, because, yeah, you have time to
recite the freakin’ menu right now. You rattle off the eighty
-seven things that are gluten-free. Probably.
“Thank you.”
 Congratulations, you just made a six dollar sale on some eggs over easy and a side of potatoes, gluten
 –
free. Wrench. Dish pit. But the door buzzer. Open the delivery door.
“Here’s your cheese.
 Please sign.
 
“This is a drop off that was missing from Tuesday’s
delivery
, why is there an invoice?”
 
“I just do what they tell me
, pal.
 
This
was already on Tuesday’s invoice, it just wasn’t delivered.”
 
“Call the office.”
 Your lips are pursed.
You’ve done this dance
 before. In a month there will be a phone fight with accounts receivable when they ca
n’t understand that
you d
on’t
want to pay them twice for the same item.
The barista hero fetches you, “There’s a guy
up front
wants to see you.”
 

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