Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Not So Coffee Shop by Jules Harley



My name is Miriam and on the 12th of May this year my life changed. At the time I thought it a change for the worst but on reflection, it's not been a bad few months.
On May 11th I came home to an odd phone message.
'Your husband is cheating on you! Every time you've been with him, he's been thinking of me. I'm Tanya and your husbands a cheater. I found him cheating on me, so that's like double cheating on you!' And the message went on in that vain.
I was shocked but to be honest, that did make sense. All the little things that didn't add up. I got in touch with Tanya (who was actually a really sweet girl) and on May 12th I walked away from my marriage of four years.
I bunked with a very good friend of mine. Lisa. She had a one bedroom apartment near the seafront. I was given the couch which was lumpy but not too awful. Unfortunately not a bed settee though.
The other thing I had to do was get a job. My ex was a wealthy man and had his own company. I'd never had to work before but until the divorce went through, well I was going to need some money! I had no experience of pretty much anything so Lisa suggested I try shop work and directed me to a long main shopping street to try my luck.
I walked along the street first to see what was there. Mostly clothe and shoe shops, nothing truly inspiring but near to the end of the street I saw a new shop. A new coffee shop to be precise. It hadn't opened yet but the finishing touches were being done right there and then.
A young lady with the most reddest of hair was laughing out the front, standing hand in hand with an older man who had silver hair and a silver beard to match. She was practically dancing, a huge smile on her face. I watched for a minute then walked in through the open door and up to the main counter. This looked like a place I would like to work at.
I greeted the man crouched on the other side. Turned out he was the electrician but he pointed me in the direction of the new owners of this venture. Yeps, Misses red hair and her bearded fellow.
I popped back out and introduced myself. The shop was opening for customers for the first time tomorrow. They had no jobs going but they would get in touch if anything came up. Somehow I changed their minds and convinced them to hire me for 3 days and if they didn't make enough from the opening, then I would remain unpaid and leave.
The nervousness. The excitement. This was one of the best days of my life. I was going to be a waitress at a coffee shop! Lisa laughed, but shared my anticipation,
The following day I was there nice and early. My new bosses talked me through the drink making, the cake selecting and the till. By 9am that day the three of us stood behind the counter, tidy and happy just waiting for the customers.
And we didn't have to wait long! The day was frantic, busy and gloriously stressful. I was most certainly going to get paid tonight!
The following day the same and I knew then that this job was going to outlast three days.
By the end of the week we had a second staff member. Nicky our waiter. Another week and another waitress Sammy. And we were still run off our feet!
One day Red and Beardy had shut and locked the front door and we all sat round a table out the back eating some of the near stale cakes and sharing stories of the experiences we'd had since the shop had open. I don't know how we got onto the subject but one by one we suddenly realised a very strange thing.
Since the coffee shop had opened we hadn't sold a single cup of coffee. In fact it was more then that. None of us had made anyone a cup of Tea either.
We'd sold milkshakes, smoothies, fresh fruit and vege drinks the usual range of carbonated beverages and even a few non-alcoholic cocktails. And we had sold several hot drinks too, just not Tea or coffee. Various versions of Hot chocolate, some cup-a-soups and there was even one guy who comes in for a Horlicks. But non of us, not one, not the owners, not Nicky, not Sammy and not me, not one of us had made a single cup of coffee or tea.
We mused about this that night and had a bit of a giggle. Then went home that evening and was back to work in the morning.
Everything carried on as normal for the next three weeks and then something very strange happened.
It was a terribly wet day and our indoor tables were filling up rather quickly. Umbrellas dripping by the tables and cake selling like, well hot cakes! A gentleman walked in looking particularly wet and windswept. He came up to the counter, rain water draining from his balding head. He was out of breath and quite shivery. He paused for a moment and returned mine and Sammy’s smiles. Then he spoke and I will never forget those words for as long as I live.
"It's a chilly day out there for sure," He said, "I would love a cup of coffee please. Black, two sugars." Then he smiled at us.
I looked at Sammy and Sammy looked at me. We then excused ourselves in a hurry and found Nicky out back.
"Nicky! He wants coffee! Someone wants coffee! What shall we do?"
And that was our problem. None of us could remember how to make a tea or a coffee! We discussed it at speed and then decided we better phone our bosses and admit the problem. Nicky dialled and held the receiver out so we could all hear and be heard.
But can you believe it? They couldn't remember how to make it either! The shop was in it's second month and we still hadn't had a request for coffee until now.
We decided we would face the man together. A united front.
The man smiled at me and I smiled back. I picked up a cup and I walked to the counter.
"I am so sorry but I'm afraid we are all out of coffee." I beamed at him sending many happy vibes his way.
The man frowned and touched his chin thoughtfully.
"OK, no matter," He replied, "I'll have a tea then please."
We all exchanged looks and this time Sammy stepped forwards.
"We are really, really sorry but we are all out of tea as well."
The man looked astonished.
"But your a coffee shop?" He questioned.
"We could make you a hot chocolate if you'd like?" I gulped as I said this. I felt so bad that we weren't able to serve him like he'd like.
"I really don't like chocolate." The man spoke quietly. He straightened his coat and prepared to go out into the rain once again but without his thirst quenched.
That was when Nicky had a fantastic idea.
"WAIT!" he shouted to the man and shot off out back.
He returned a moment later with a small cake occupied plate.
"Here" He offered the plate to the man, "Freshly baked Coffee cake. Taken out the oven just minutes ago and still hot enough to warm your insides."
The man took the plate greedily and grinned at us all.
In fact he enjoyed it so much that he comes in every week now, come rain or shine just for a slice of coffee cake.
And that was the one and only time we have ever been asked for tea or coffee! I have however had a few more requests for a Horlicks!

The End

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