No Time for B.S.

She always used to think, when she heard a business owner being cranky to a customer, that it was surprising that person was still in business, and that it was pure stupidity to treat customers rudely, and why didn’t the boss just hire someone to manage the place and go do something else himself?

Now she understands why the owner might be cranky: he or she is probably stuck there, struggling to keep things going and pay the bills and make a living. Maybe they can’t afford, as she can, to stay in the back while paying someone to run the show out front.

And in the back she is, definitely, for now. Her patience for bullshit is at an all-time low; she would as soon throw hot coffee in someone’s face as listen to one more unwarranted complaint or arrogant suggestion or condescending remark.

Blondi is in a bad place, and she knows it. The best thing to do is stay out of sight until whatever this is runs its course. She hopes it will.

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Choosing a Focus

The older she gets, the less willing she is to put up with the foibles of others. Instead of becoming more tolerant, she’s becoming more demanding. Instead of becoming more patient, she’s less so. The company of others is less appealing; so is discussion and the exchange of ideas. Is this what they mean when they say your world shrinks as you age? You become the supreme commander of your own little world, and keep a closer eye on its borders?

It’s the opposite of what Blondi has always expected. She would become more easygoing, more laissez-faire, more laidback as she became an old woman. Nothing would faze her; nothing could knock her off balance. That’s what she thought. And now she observes friends her own age and fears that if she is anything like them, then she is getting fussy and nitpicky. They don’t see it in themselves, and maybe she doesn’t see it in herself either; it frightens her to realize how blind and intransigent humans can be, and how thoughtlessly they swing the hammer of accusation at nails of personal projections.

People can be as endlessly disappointing as they are endlessly surprising. Perhaps, she posits, a little bit more space between herself and them won’t hurt. And so she puts on some headphones and loses herself in the world of talk radio, where there is always something new to learn, while tuning out the conversations on the other side of the counter as she measures flour and chops vegetables.

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Posted in Truth Not Facts

Kids in Cafés

The best restaurant parenting Blondi has seen was when a two-year-old boy wanted to have his way with a bottle of ketchup on the table, and his mother said no, so he started having a tantrum. She simply scooped him up and carried him outside, away from his food.

They were only gone for about five minutes and when they came back into the café, the child was calm and remained perfectly well behaved for the rest of the time. The ketchup bottle no longer seemed to be an issue.

“What happened out there?” she asked the mother.

“I just explained to him that he couldn’t have the ketchup bottle and that if he acted up again, we’d leave again. Nothing complicated,” she told Blondi. “Simple consequences for his actions. He may only be two, but he’s not stupid. He wants to eat.”

So Blondi wonders, as she listens to the news today about a restaurant manager yelling at a misbehaving toddler, and all the kafuffle in the media about it, why such a simple solution is not obvious to all parents. Because it doesn’t seem to be. Is it because the parents don’t think of it in the heat of the moment? Or is it because leaving the restaurant is an inconvenience to themselves? Or is it that they’ve become sort of immune to their children’s noise and fuss and don’t realize how upsetting it is to people around them?

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Posted in Truth

Change Your Mind

What she has to do, she has decided, is change her mind.
Indeed, that is easier said than done.
But once you stop allowing yourself to dream, to wish, to yearn, to imagine, to wonder … when it comes to passion, romance, even love … once you take strict control of yourself, and focus on and accept what is and what has to be, then you’re doing the correct thing, the mature thing, the responsible thing, the smart thing. The thing you signed up for.
Right?
Time will tell. But there is no fork in this road; there’s only one logical path to take and Blondi must take it.

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What to Do, What to Do

At least customers aren’t coming in here asking for hot food today. That’s not to say they haven’t cleaned up the soups and eaten the fresh bread while it was still warm. That’s great; nothing ever goes to waste. But they are requesting the fruit salad and the tossed salad and the caesar salad and the lemonade and the cold drinks. Bless ’em!

Of course, Dawn’s doughnuts and longjohns remain popular, but those are prepared out at Dawn’s place; the oven here at the café was turned off as soon as the loaves came out this morning, and Blondi hasn’t had to turn it back on for anything. It’s a miracle! In this sultry weather, appetites wane somewhat. Thank goodness. She hates to think what the air would feel like upstairs tonight if the stove and oven had to be going all day.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about installing air conditioning. It’s an expense she’s avoided till now, but there are days when it seems ridiculous not to have it. When your customers can’t even be comfortable while they’re eating because it’s too hot … then it’s time to bite the bullet.

What a perfect excuse to cut back on Rueben’s hours, spend a little less time in close proximity to him. It would make sense to say she has to do so in order to afford this new and essential purchase. That seems a rotten thing to do to him, though, when he wants to work and has been so reliable and made such a positive, pleasant contribution to the atmosphere.

Then again, customers seem perfectly content to sit out on the shady patio. The place doesn’t really need air-conditioning. Right now she is grasping at the proverbial straw, wanting to make a problem go away instead of finding a way to fix it by somehow fixing herself. And this problem is not Rueben’s fault. He does not flirt with her. He’s just a sweetie to everyone, and Blondi has a soft spot for sweet, gentle men.

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Almost Perfect

It’s been a slow day at the café, so Blondi sends Rueben home shortly after the lunch hour and as soon as five o’clock comes, she pours herself a cool one and heads for the patio. It’s early for a cocktail but on summer days such as this one, when she wishes she could transport herself to the beach and spend the entire day there, dipping in and out of the water … and can’t … well could but shouldn’t … after all, if anyone should have the day off it would be Rueben, not her … that’s what good bosses do. But she too deserves a little something out of the ordinary, so an afternoon cocktail it is.

And she loves her patio. She loves to sit out there and listen to the birds and lounge and read. She loves to hear the very slight Saskatchewan breeze gently rustling the poplar leaves. She loves the quiet that is not quiet at all, but is not people talking and is not music playing and is not traffic. She loves being exactly where she is, and doesn’t want to change a thing.

Except maybe, sometimes, the places her mind goes. Or is that her heart.

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Rock and Hard Place

Life here has been nice and simple since she and Beau took the figurative seam-ripper and separated their couples jackets. There have been no emotional upheavals to speak of. Oh sure, Blondi gets lonesome sometimes, but it’s not often; usually she has seen enough of people during the day, so that it’s a huge relief to lock the doors and mount the stairs to her peaceful sanctuary. Her hours of solitude are not only relished and protected, but appreciated and necessary.

If she wants drama, she has only to listen to her customers talk among themselves. Sometimes they tell her what’s happening with them. It’s more than enough. She can care about them, but not lose sleep over their troubles. She’s been asked out, too, by several men, and it’s been easier to say no than yes. She hasn’t forgotten the bullshit that came with romantic involvement, either casual or with commitment, and she is finished with that. She doesn’t want it. Not even if it comes with rewards. So she has not sought after a situation where there could be longing, frustration or, on the flip side, passion and satisfaction from being with another person. She has avoided it. It seems the prudent and practical thing to do.

She has maintained her friendships and family relations instead; they are what counts in the long run, anyway.

And that is why this attraction to her employee comes out of the blue and feels a bit like a slap on the head: uninvited, unwelcome but, goddamn it, shaking her up. She can’t fire him; she doesn’t want to leave her business; she has to figure out how to live with feelings that cannot be acted upon. What if time doesn’t take care of them, make them go away? What if making up her mind to pretend this situation doesn’t exist only creates other problems? She worries about that: about not being real, about play-acting, about repressing things. That can’t be healthy either, and yet it’s essential here. The alternative would be a disaster; it would be messy, and the fallout itself would ruin all that is solid and lovely in her life (and surely his, what little she knows of it) right now.

Mostly what she wants is to keep a good working relationship gold instead of tarnishing it with unreliable emotions and irrational desires that do not serve her or anyone else. She knows she will not act on her unwanted feelings; she will not allow them to be obvious, she hopes; she will enjoy Rueben’s perfect princeliness during the day, and think of him as a co-worker and friend, and put him out of her mind at night. That may be the hardest part, but it’s the only road open that she can see.

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