Staff Meeting with Wine

No one is ready to give up on fall, or even summer. How this can be, in spite of it being mid-October, is beyond Blondi. As if we have some choice!

The cold, wet, snowy weather has been everyone’s first topic of conversation for the past month; the opener, the smoother of the way, the if-I-hear-this-one-more-time-I’ll-kill-myself provoker for anyone who works with the public. Blondi mm-hm’s and carries on back to the kitchen with her hands full of plates and cups and cutlery. Rueben, though, is getting cranky. It’s not like Rueben, who is always so even-tempered at work, so good-natured.

Oh well, she tells herself. Even the best of us aren’t always at their best. He hasn’t taken anyone’s head off or purposely spilled a hot drink on someone’s lap. Maybe it’s the coming of winter; lots of people react badly to the thought of the months ahead. If this is the case, it’s the first time she’s seen it in Rueben.

“I bought a decent bottle of wine for a change,” she says at the end of the day, as he’s locking the front door behind the last customer. “Stay for a drink?”

She knows she shouldn’t and he probably shouldn’t either; he’s got a wife waiting for him to get home, and Blondi has studiously avoided creating any kind of intimacy with him. They work well together but she makes sure they are never alone, never without the possibility that someone will join them any moment; she has her weaknesses, and opportunity is one she recognizes as particularly dangerous. However, she needs to find out if it’s something at work that’s bothering him and, while they won’t be interrupted, he won’t stay long either. This is as good a time as any.

“There go my nice white teeth,” she pretends to complain, sipping at the crimson liquid swishing around in her glass.
“Worth it,” he replies, lifting his own to his lips and taking a good long swallow. “We should do this more often.”
“For sure,” she says, not meaning it.

There’s no use beating around the bush here; he knows something’s up. “So, Rueben. Is there anything we need to talk about?”
He looks surprised, which surprises her. Surely he didn’t assume she wouldn’t notice?
“No. Why? Everything’s fine. I just — I don’t know — find myself tired of things. Doesn’t that happen to you?”
“Pfft. You know it does. I’m bored as shit some days. Clearly,” she says, “we need a murder or armed robbery to liven things up.”
He snorts. “I hate to say it, but that might not be so terrible. I’m kidding, but … don’t you ever find yourself just … disgusted with it all?”
“You mean people? Or the work we do? Or what?”
“Oh … people, I guess. I don’t know. Why? Have I messed up?”
“No no. You just don’t seem yourself, that’s all, and I want to make sure the air’s clear here. Is there anything I can do to make a difference?”
He leans over the table between them and grabs the wine bottle.
“You can spring for one more glass of wine.”
street sceneSource

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Haters Gonna Hate

“I do not have to put up with this shit,” says Rueben.

Blondi couldn’t agree more, she tells him. Do what you will, she tells him. Say what you will. Just don’t kill her.

There’s a regular customer who finds something to bitch about every single time she comes into the café. Nothing pleases her. Nothing is ever quite right. She doesn’t like its business hours; there aren’t enough of them in a day. She doesn’t like the prices; how come everything costs so much? She doesn’t like the menu; she wants more choices. She doesn’t like the door opening and closing, the icy draught that comes in with people on cold days.

Naysayers like this, of course, Blondi and Rueben could do without. Why doesn’t this habitual complainer go somewhere else, or cook at home? Oh but that would be inconvenient; and Stubblejumpers Café is the only eating establishment in town. Maybe she hasn’t found a place that suits her better, even further afield; there’s always that. “Haters gonna hate,” isn’t that how the saying goes?

Meanwhile, Blondi and Rueben are at least on the same page: they know that these kinds of people are going to come in and there is no avoiding them. But how — How?, Rueben demands, losing patience — are they to keep their sanity in the face of such irritating, unnecessary behaviour? How are they to stick to the high road and treat her with respect while she is always blaming them for her own dissatisfaction? They are only human, and their hearts sink every time they see her coming.

Marta has a suggestion.

“Laugh,” she says. “Not behind her back, not at her, and not in her face. Not in a mean way. But make a joke somehow, so she knows you’ve heard her.”

Marta has dealt with the public for many years while driving the bookmobile around the province. If anyone knows how to handle all kinds of customers, it’s Marta.

Rueben’s not so sure. “There’s nothing funny about any of it,” he replies. “It’s sickening.”

This is true, and neither Blondi nor Marta argue. They just leave him to think about it.


Posted in Fictional Reality

Have Another Cup of Coffee

It’s election time around the province — municipal elections, that is. Even Blondi’s little village here has two people running for mayor and several hoping to unseat the incumbent councillors.

Blondi’s been told she should stand for public office, since she owns a business in town and everyone knows her.

She thinks, but doesn’t say, “I hear enough bitching already; why would I make myself available for more!”

It seems a thankless job, public service, although she admires those who are willing to do it. They need to have boundless energy and a thick skin, neither of which Blondi can claim to possess.

Nope, she’s perfectly happy right where she is, thank you very much. Would you like a refill?


Posted in Truth Not Facts

Not Tea Leaves

“Where’ve you been lately?” he said. “Every time I come in, you’re nowhere to be seen!”

It’s true. Blondi has been in demand for tarot readings during this cold weather. It’s weird, she thinks, but has always been this way: just like sex in the life of a long-married couple, there are dry spells when it comes to people asking to have their cards read; and then she turns around and can hardly fit in all the appointments people are requesting. This week she has spent more time at the little table in the private room behind the kitchen than she has out front. It’s no wonder that regular customers are noticing. And thank goodness Rueben has been here to handle the running of the place so that she’s been able to focus on the person in front of her.

He’s taken the morning off to shovel his driveway, even though the snow has begun to melt. Something to do with getting the water to go where he wants it to, he said. But Blondi’s got another reading to do, the appointment made several days ago, so Dawn is on her way in to manage the kitchen. This is the last reading this week and while a part of Blondi is relieved about the upcoming break, another part has been energized by the close communion with those who have come to see her over the past few days.

It is a kind of work that requires intense concentration but gives immense returns in satisfaction.


Posted in Truth Not Facts

First Snow Day

The café is busier than ever today, when all the farmers would rather be in the field taking off their crops, but they can’t because it’s been raining and snowing. Instead they catch up on their sleep, visit with their neighbours, and come to town for mail and groceries. It’s the perfect opportunity to slow down and take it easy, although they’d rather not have the option. They’d rather be finishing the harvest, and there is a lot of expressed anxiety about the weather and the forecast. Livelihoods hang in the balance: land, machinery and mortgage payments must be made; bills have to be paid; families need to eat this winter; there has to be money to purchase inputs, come spring, for next year’s crop.

And yet the chatter Blondi hears has a decidedly excited buzz, as if this unwelcome break in the hard slog of recent weeks is more energizing than heartbreaking. Farmers have seen it all before. They’re accustomed to the risk that comes along with relying upon nature for their living, and somehow they handle the uncertainty without becoming depressed or giving up altogether.


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Finish This Sentence

It’s an unseasonably warm late-fall day and her customers have been gathering on the patio to take advantage of it. Nearby are the chitterings of small birds scabbering on the ground for seeds and gravel, while in the distance the rumbling of combines comes from every direction. Blondi is clearing a table, taking her time, unwilling to go back inside; there won’t be many more days like this, she thinks; not this year.

“My lady bits are a sweet-scented flower,” said a woman to her male companion, “while yours are — ”

But that is all Blondi hears, leaving her wondering how the man’s “lady” bits could possibly have been described. Definitely not a sweet-scented flower!


image source:


Posted in Fictional Reality, Truth Not Facts

You Can’t Have Everything

One might think Blondi and her staff would overhear a lot of interesting conversations as they go about clearing tables and refilling coffee cups. The reality is that most café talk is bland and shallow. Most of the time Blondi simply tunes it out, noting only the pleasant background hum of satisfied customers chatting about the mundane as they share a meal with their friends.

Occasionally though, a phrase will jump out and stick in her mind all day.

She’s heard that when this kind of thing happens, the universe is sending you a message, perhaps an answer to a question you’ve been asking.

Today she will be thinking about the meaning of “You can’t have everything” as it pertains to her own life. She has always believed she could. Has she been wrong all this time?


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