Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drinking From The Tips Glass

Today in the cafe... there's a customer who has a quietly, endearing theatricality about her communication. The previous time she visited I remember wondering if she was a TV personality I should recognise, but I think it's just her way.

She placed her lunch order today in her unique way, wide eyes and breathy enthusiasm. As she bustled away I asked her to remember the butterfly (her table identification creature). “Oh of course!” she replied in her Thespian way.

I took her order to The Dreaded One and hung about in the kitchen for a few minutes. When I returned to the cafe... two things absorbed in a nanosecond. The first was that the butterfly customer was standing at the counter with the fizzy orange juice drink she had purchased. The second was that Kafka Woman, in my left peripheral vision, was doubled over in fits of uncontrollable laughter, one hand on the counter to steady herself. Kafka Woman, for me, has the most infectious laughter I have ever encountered. I don't need to know what she is laughing at to start laughing, so I started laughing.

But I knew something was up so – being the professional I am – I focused on the customer and what might have gone wrong.

“I'm a bit put off,” she told me. I assume there must be something wrong with the drink. I look at the glass. There was something that is not fizzy orange drink in the bottom of the fizzy orange drink.

“Yes,” The customer goes on, looking a bit disturbed by the whole affair. “There are an awful lot of coins in the bottom of my glass...”

The pieces fall into place. She had picked up our tips glass, taken it all the way back to her table, somehow not noticing that the glass was quite heavy due to the coins it contained, and she had poured her orange fizzy drink into it and taken a sip or two before realising that for some reason, there are coins in her drink.

I couldn't help myself. I started to laugh more as I told her what she had done, wondering how someone could do such a thing. My increased laughter fuelled Kafka Woman's laughter and she doubled over and laughe even harder, if that is humanly possible.

If Kafka Woman had not been present when I first walked back outside, I might have been able to act concerned and empathetic and treat the situation with some kind of false sensitivity. The fact that KW was already wiping tears of laughter away meant I never stood a chance. Now, needless to say, we were both fucked. Absolutely fucked with laughter.

The customer was not fucked with laughter. She wanted a refund for the ruined orange fizzy drink and although it was entirely her fault for putting the drink in the tips glass, I gave her the refund because by now I was feeling a bit guilty about all the laughter.

Later, after more laughter in the kitchen, Kafka Woman went over to check that the rest of Butterfly Customer's lunch was all right. Everything, it seemed, was fine. Except...

When I asked about the murmured conversation between Kafka Woman and Butterfly Customer, Kafka Woman told me that Butterfly Customer didn't want to appear humourless, it's just that she is a clinical germaphobe. She opened her bag and showed Kafka Woman some of her medication.

“Fuck,” I said to Kafka Woman. “Why couldn't that have happened to a normal person?”

No comments: