Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The little cafe who couldn't make up its mind

In April, I took a weekend job at a cafe, 13 hours a week (on top of my 40-hour job). Then I heard the cafe was for sale, and I kind of shrugged, thinking that I wouldn't be heartbroken to lose the job shortly after getting it. A woman named Ati was interested in buying the cafe and taking it over, and she came in to get familiar with the cafe a few times. So then I started thinking, "I might still have this job after all." (Bummer. I had been looking forward to getting my weekends back.)

She backed out. Max, the owner, for whom the cafe was his second business, didn't think it was feasible to keep pumping money into the cafe. So, he set a date for the cafe's closing: June 21st. He laid off two employees (from a staff of five), reduced hours, and told everyone remaining, "We're just gonna get through the next six weeks." The last time I talked to Ashley, a manager, she told me that she wasn't getting paid a manager's salary anymore and she had lost her week's paid vacation that she had earned, because Max said he couldn't afford it. I didn't see her again, since her schedule changed to weekdays and mine was weekends. Once the closing was announced (and probably the sale price was slashed), Ati regained interest in buying the cafe.

Then Ashley's name disappeared off the schedule. I came in last Saturday, baked muffins, brewed coffee, and waited for my co-worker Dan to arrive so I could hear what happened with Ashley. Did she get frustrated and quit? Understandable, particularly if she was still expected to do managerial duties but not be getting paid for them. She also had an upcoming move, and it's hard to plan a big event like that if you're not sure you'll have a job.

Dan gets there, and we get as far as, "I saw Ashley's not on the schedule anymore..." when Max arrives with an announcement: the big storage refrigerator is broken, Ati has backed out again, we're closing the very next day. Dan says a few words to me, of the 'what would you do if I left' variety, then leaves.

Again, understandable. Not the smartest move, but I get it.

So, for the first time, I actually worked the day with Max. Pretty much every customer I talked to had a better business plan than Max, and most of them included actually working there, alleviating the need to pay staff. Makes sense to me. I also heard Max complaining to customers about Dan's storm-out, which I thought was totally inappropriate. He was still the business owner for those last two days, and there was no reason for the unprofessionalism.

That Saturday was long. I was only scheduled until 2 (when the cafe closed, and Dan would have stayed to do the closing duties). Max had who-knows-what going on, a bunch of people came and ordered complicated things in the last few minutes we were open, so I ended up staying until almost 3, not even really knowing what one does for closing.

But Sunday had that finality to it, which made it feel pretty quick. My favorite parts where when we'd get busy and sandwiches would start getting backed up. I'd say to myself, "What are they gonna do, not come back?"

I know plenty of people will miss the cafe. There are only 1200 people in this town in the first place, many of whom had never been there. For a place with such an extensive menu, people mostly seemed to get coffee and bagel sandwiches (which, for my part of the business plan, is all I would offer, if it were my cafe).

But it's no longer my problem. I told Max I was leaving at 2 on Sunday, per my schedule. He let me load up my (large!) bag with foods from the cafe. I got some bagels, sausage, chips, cocoa powder, wasabi powder, sesame seeds, garlic powder, cinnamon sticks, and I almost got a big tub of pesto, but Max basically stole it back from me. Oh well. As long as I get paid for the last two days of work!

Andy and I had figured out that if I worked there a year and took my paychecks from there, we could have paid off one of his student loans entirely. Granted, the smaller one, but the one with the higher interest rate. It didn't last a year, but I wouldn't have, either.

We are going to get our weekends back. And clearly, it's time to start watching Twin Peaks again. And kicking it off with some donuts and coffee in our RR mugs.

(But seriously, Julie, it was "We're done. We're not done." all over again!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy 60th Dad!

My dad and my brother, maybe before my arrival? (Sorry for blurry)
Wedding day!

I love you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


All right. It's been nearly a year since my last update. My letter-writing petered out. I still think writing letters is a good thing, but I clearly can't keep up with one a week.

Maybe my new focus should be one post a week, of any kind. I had at one point thought maybe after a year of letters, I would read one book a week. Even I know that's overly-ambitious.

Since I don't have any readers, I guess I can't ask what "you" would like to read. Here are a few potential subjects:
1) A review and/or pictures of something I have cooked (baked, most likely). Who doesn't need more food blogs?
2) Stories about the kids for whom I nanny
3) Stories from my weekend cafe job (ending in mid-June)
4) Heck, I might still send letters out, once in a while!

I guess I don't need a focus, necessarily. And since I left Facebook, this might be a good way to allow others to cyberstalk me. If I would ever actually give anyone this link. :-D