Friday, June 30, 2017

Today In The Cafe: Real Generosity

Two beautiful things today.

A customer was reading my stories with interest. My co-worker Noraa told me she seemed shy and was surprised that the stories were mine and that she would tell me what she thought about them before she left.

Before she left, she hand wrote a poem on the back of an art gallery flyer. The poem is beautiful. The sadness comes from the fact that we didn't talk. I'm kind of introverted as well. I liked her poem. We could have talked about writing and poetry and thoughts about things and things and stuff and more things and stuff.

But she was gone. The beautiful poem on the flyer though, I have that.

The second beautiful thing today.

The door to the cafe is closed. An ancient Asian lady knocks on the door. I open the door. She tells me she needs one more bucket, a five litre bucket like the ones we use all the time and throw away. It's for the old people, she tells me. I get one such container from the kitchen. She is so grateful when I give her this empty plastic container. Thank you, she says, in her broken English, it's for the old people. I have no idea what she intends to do with the containers. She is dressed in rags.

Wait - do you want some food? I ask her. Her expression is blank for  a few moments. I gesture about free food, for the old people. Her ancient face lights up. I ask her to come inside and wait.

I show her the food I can give to her and she looks so happy. I start putting the food - delicious pastries and sandwiches crafted by Heart-Shaped Lollipop Girl that we had been intending to eat over the weekend - into a takeaway bag, and this is where the beauty thing happened, because this is not about me being generous.

Ancient Asian woman in her raggedy clothes looking after the old people, she insists I stop. "You keep some for you. You keep some food for you."

Now that is generosity. What a caring, generous soul she is.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cigarettes After Sex

Today in the cafe... my new front of house helper Nøraa and I were working away during a lull in customers. Out of the blue, she struck up conversation with, "So eeeh... you know cigarettes after sex?" Spoken in that hybrid French/Spanish accent.
"Erm... yeah?" I replied, thinking that she was asking if I was aware that people enjoy smoking cigarettes after having sex but not having any idea where she was going with it.
She nodded slowly almost to herself. "Mmm. Is good."
"Okay."
I waited for a while, thinking there was more to come. Maybe the results of a new study or something. I don't know. But that appeared to be it. Apparently she had just wanted to tell me that she enjoys a cigarette after a good bonk. Which is cool. That's fine. Random as hell, but fine.
"So..." I asked eventually, "What made you share that with me?"
"What?"
"That you like smoking after having sex."
"No the band that is playing this song. It is Cigarettes After Sex. Is good."
"Oh. Oh I see."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Poet At My Table; A Chat With Poet Anthony Lawrence

Today in the cafe... a customer who likes his double espressos asked me, randomly, if I read poetry. I said I read a bit of poetry and write a little of it. He said Oh really? He then showed me me some poetry that he was reading, an intriguing poem by an Irish poet, someone Muldoon.

We started talking. There were clues. He was reviewing this book because Australian Book Review had asked him to review it. We talked a little about reviewing. He mentioned that he was an academic. He said something about students. I asked what he taught. He said he teaches creative writing on The Gold Coast, and he hates The Gold Coast. I told him that I hate The Gold Coast too. We talked about why we both like Melbourne so much. Far better place in so many ways, we agreed.

We started talking about creative writing and I gave him my card with the info about my e-book of short stories, told him how I had given up creative fiction years ago because of a rejection letter from Overland. They had said they have a policy of the three editors needing a unanimous acceptance from all three and on this occasion two liked my story a lot but the third was unsure, so no cigar. The customer said that sucked and said that he also didn't like how this particular litmag operated, said something about how they preferred to publish their mates' experimental work. Said something about how people like him were considered by them to be The Gatekeeper.

I wisely didn't say anything more about my own writing. I was more curious now about who he was, because it seemed like he was Someone.

I asked if he had stuff published and said sorry but I don't know who I am talking to. He said he had had about 15 books published. We chatted some more and I asked what his name was. Anthony, he told me. Okay, Anthony who? I asked. Anthony Lawrence, he told me.

I Googled. Oh, so he's kind of like the David Bowie of Australian poetry. There's all the awards, the critical acclaim, a novel and a stage play... we said goodbye, and he left telling me that we could talk about my stories next time he comes to the cafe.

He is all the writing success that I have not been. A properly humbling experience. Thank fuck my radar was up and I didn't talk myself up. Pretty funny, all in all. Kind of wish I hadn't mentioned my writing at all.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tiger Air Australia

Dear Tiger Air,
The official reason we were given for you totally ruining our weekend away to catch up with beloved friends was that you swapped our plane for a smaller plane that was not able to land in Sydney's notoriously wet conditions.
I'm curious about why the plane was swapped for a smaller, inferior version. This was particularly frustrating when other flights with yours and other airlines were flying out for Sydney as scheduled.
I'm also curious about why we were told our flight was boarding in four minutes, only to be told that the flight was delayed for an hour, then to be told that it was actually cancelled altogether. That's kind of shitty service, however you look at it.
In between that four minute notice and the hour before being told the flight had been cancelled due to you incomprehensible ineptitude at doing your job, my partner and I made the mistake of ordering some crumbed squid from The Two John's or whatever that place is called, because by now, after a long day at the end of a long week of providing food and service in our cafe, we were hungry.
The squid was awful. It's possibly the worst squid I've ever had. But it was my mistake to order the squid, so I don't really hold you accountable for the squid.
However... We closed our cafe early (unknown dollars lost), caught the Skybus to the airport ($38), drank two glasses of wine each ($32), ate that memorable squid, were dicked about until finally being told that our flight had been cancelled because you can't do your job. The cab fare back home was $60.
Fortunately we hadn't airbnb-ed our home out as planned because we would have then had to book a hotel. We just had to kick friends out who had planned to stay. They were good enough to cook us dinner (much better than that squid... seriously, that squid...), and it was a lovely night in the end, just not what we had planned.
Because I am sitting here in Melbourne writing this letter when I paid for flights to be in Sydney, I would appreciate a full refund, because you didn't deliver the service I paid for. I also have receipts for the Skybus and the taxi fare home. The wine and the squid... look, I really wouldn't have ordered that awful squid (have I mentioned how awful the squid was?) if you hadn't lied to us all about the four minute boarding-one hour delay before cancelling thing, but I'll take the squid mistake as my own. I should have ordered a salad or something unfuckupable.
I've done a fair bit of travelling and have never experienced this level of ineptitude. I've also eaten quite a bit of squid in my time and never have I… okay, I'll stop going on about the squid. Although I would suggest that if they can't get the squid right, they stop doing it.
I think I am a fair and kind person who thinks that if someone doesn't do their job properly, they should be held accountable. For example (and I know I said I'd stop but I just can't help myself) if we served squid like that in the cafe I would basically give the customers back their money as soon as they ordered it, because really, it's the worst squid they are ever going to eat and as a human being I'd just feel awful taking their money for such an awful experience.
The human who was dealing with your stuff-up was wonderful. So calm in the face of so much anger around me. My words with her were quiet and understanding and she really did do a wonderful job and I hope all of them have a much better weekend than their Friday night. I hope all the pointless anger has abated. I hope everyone, all the passengers on that “flight” are going to enjoy their weekend, even if it wasn't the one they had planned.
I do hope you will do the right and fair thing and refund my flights as well as reimburse me for the expenses incurred of getting to and back from The Flight That Never Was. I suspect you don't give a rat's arse, as they say, but it would be nice and fair and decent if you proved me wrong.
The squid's on me.
Regards,
Lee Bemrose.
#tigerair #tigerairaustralia #yuckysquid
LikeShow More Reactions
Comment

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Some Of The Humans, They Are Awesome.

I'm kind of a solitary man, but I keep encountering these people, these amazing souls who wander gently into my life and quietly go about having a big impact on my life. It's quite fucking awesome.