Thursday, April 04, 2002

More interesting store notes. These happened on Wednesday night. Freak night, as it shall now be known from now on. I don't ever care to repeat that night.

First, I came out to see a strange blonde woman standing at the cafe. Without hearing a thing, I could tell from the body language of both the blonde woman and Gala, the girl who works at the cafe that something was wrong. The blonde woman, who based on her face was about in her early 40's, was dressed entirely in black, with bleached and damaged hair pulled up in a messy pony tail behind her head, stood with her feet completely together, and hands clasped as if she was a little girl at the ice cream parlor waiting for her hot fudge sundae to be made. Gala, a sarcastic and funny girl in her early twenties, had an expression void of her usual gregariousness as she listened to the woman talk in a high pitched and girlish voice. Though I don't work in the cafe, I walked up to the two, providing silent backup support to Gala, if needed. I'd heard a couple of days ago that a strange woman had come into the store, was very demanding and unreasonable, wanted 14 pumps of white chocolate in her mocha, (one is the usual amount and that is very sweet) then had them make the drink three times to get it right. She'd pulled this act several times, wanting a free drink since her last one “wasn't made correctly.” That night, the staff had had enough.

As I waited in line behind the woman, I made no secret of my feelings about her behavior. I stared at her as she explained her plight to Gala, who offered her one free drink if the manager approved it. The woman would occasionally glance nervously at me and I didn't avert my gaze. I hate scam artists, and I hate people who take advantage of businesses and people who are only trying to provide them good service. The workers do a good job in the cafe, and don't deserve a woman who only comes in to cause trouble and make it an uncomfortable environment for not only the staff, but for the other customers.

Carter, the manager came over and helped the woman from then on. He made a drink for her and gave her the free one she’d requested. She went over to the bar with the sugars and straws, messed around with her drink a bit, then came back to Carter, complaining that the whip cream was watery where it was touching the drink. Carter graciously scooped the whip cream off the drink, blended it again, and then put more whip cream on the new drink. I was watching every move, my eyes never leaving the woman. She repeated the same at the bar, then came back and asked Carter to remake the drink, which he did. She repeated this another time, then told Carter that both me and Gala were making her uncomfortable and talking loudly about her. (At her third return from the bar, I had said to Carter, "Oh for crying out loud, what now?"). As she talked to Carter and pointed over her shoulder at me like a child tattling to the teacher that I'd butted in line at the monkey bars, I still didn't avert my gaze or my incredulous expression. She then accused Carter of overcharging her a few cents for the drink and lambasted him for such a dirty deed. After a few more words and taking both her drinks outside, she came back in, said she'd thrown the drinks away and wanted her money back. Carter gave her money back to her, and then told her that she was banned from coming back to the cafe. She balked at this, and said that she wanted to speak to the store manager. Carter pointed her over to Larry.

She told her tale of woe to Larry, who completely backed his employees. When the woman whined that she was made uncomfortable by me and Gala, Larry said that of course we were looking at her, because she was being obnoxious, and that is likely going to bring attention to her. It was great. I had already returned to my cash register, but could see the action going on at the customer service desk. This woman obviously had a mental illness, maybe borderline, but it's not the burden of the cafe people or other customers that she holds up. And, if she gets enough responses like ours, perhaps she will get help.

And that was only the beginning of the night.

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