Life’s about learning, and as a tiny, baby child with very limited life experience, I’m learning new stuff all the time. Here’s a rundown of the latest.
Intervened in a Confrontation (was an Authority Figure)
As I’ve mentioned once, twice, a thousand times, I work in a cafe-bar. Recently I’ve been taking the afternoon shift a lot, which is from three until midnight. As you might expect, around five o’clock, there’s a radical shift as people transition from coffee to alcohol. By night time, the place is fully bar and not at all cafe.
All in all, the customers who come in, even late at night, are angels. They respect my calls for last orders, they give generous tips, and some of them even bring their glasses as they leave, saving me the labour-intensive and frankly stressful task of going to collect them. What with my shorn head and offensively non-Czech accent, I’m a recognisable member of staff, and by now the regulars and I share smiles, nods, and polite fragments of conversation. Here’s a short example:
“How are things with you?” I say, and then (internally), I think, “Fuckthatwasthewrongkindofyouthatwasthewrongaspect.”
“Oh, fine,” they say. “How are you?”
“Oh, it’s hot,” I say.
“Yes,” they say. “Can I have some wine?”
This conversation is repeated around four times a weekday and six times on weekends. It’s extremely fulfilling for all of us.
Last week, though, we had a real bastard. Like, I don’t enjoy judging people (that’s a lie; I do) but this guy was a real piece of work. He came in, demanded two beers, and stomped to the big table by the window. He looked like he’d already had two beers at a bunch of places, but I thought to myself – hey, come on. It’s a Tuesday night. Let the guy unwind a little. It’ll be fine. Little did I know, this was one of the worst people in the world.
I can say this because he said he was never coming back anyway.
Hiding behind a sack of Peruvian beans (courtesy of Candycane, thank you for making such giant, opaque bags, perfect for deflecting conflict), I observed as the gentleman downed his beer and started on a second. I had thought it strange that he’d asked for two beers straight away, but now I saw he was merely being respectful. Why make me take his order twice when he knew he was gonna want another straight away?
Anyway, before long, this terrible cretin started yelling at the table next to him about how American coffee was shit. I don’t know why he inserted himself into their conversation – they’d been politely enjoying their house wine – but he was fully into it. For some reason, even though these people had been speaking Czech and I’m sure the monster in question was Czech himself, he was proselytising in English. He was so aggressive about how Starbucks was ruining Prague that people were shrinking away from him like a plastic melting away from a flame.
It took, I’m not kidding, a full two minutes for me to realise that I, as Lord of the Cafe, was responsible for kicking the guy out. I stood there for a while waiting for an authority figure to step in, and then it struck me – I am the authority figure. Go get the manager? Mate, tonight I am the manager.
I screwed up my courage, went over to him, and politely asked him to stop shouting at strangers. This annoyed him. “We’re having a conversation!” he said.
I was very glad his outburst was in English. I am bad at confrontation in any language, but adding worries about case would be dreadful. “I don’t think they wanna talk to you,” I said.
He was really pissed off at me, and he left straight after telling me I wasn’t welcome in his country, his beer undrunk. I retreated behind my coffee sack sandbag, feeling like a hero. Man, I’m in charge. It’s weird.
Or, like, I think I did. The terrible thing about being ghosted is that I’m not really sure that it’s happened. Sure, I’ve sent this person a few different messages over the course of *checks watch* a week and a half, and, yes, this person is still active on social media, and, mmmmhm, my best friend has told me that this is a clear sign and I should move on, but, like… maybe they’re just super busy? Like, they have enough free time to upload a bunch of shit onto their Insta story, but, maybe, they’re just too busy to text me back? It’s nothing personal?
Sometimes even I know I’m kidding myself.
Let me add an extra nuance though: I’m not in a romantic relationship with this person. We’re at that tricky stage between meeting and becoming friends. Is that still ghosting? Or is it just not replying? Man, modern parlance is hard. Either way, though, it’s not happened to me before and I don’t like it.
That said, if this person genuinely has decided that continuing to have interactions with me will ruin their life, I’m not sure I’d like them to tell me that. Like, I’m all about and honesty and openness, but I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if someone turned around and said, “Hey, yeah, I’ve got no interest in being friends with you.” That’s just fucking brutal. Perhaps ghosting is the kindest thing to do.
Saw an Interesting Thing, did not Gram It
I’m an absolute Instagram monster. I’ll hold my hands up to it: I post too much, I put too much shit on my stories. What can I say? I’m chemically dependent on the little rush of serotonin I get whenever anyone likes my (frankly) top shelf content.
If that sounds really unhealthy, it’s because it is. I have taken Steps, and I have made Healthy Choices, and I have logged out of Instagram. I’m not going to kid myself, I’m sure I’ll be back in twenty minutes, but it’s a start. It’s good to take a little break.
The problem is differentiating between when I’ve taken a lovely photograph and I want to share it with my friends, and when I’m feeling down and I want to measure my worth in the world by how many people double-tap on a selfie I took two months ago and saved for just this occasion. I think it’s perfectly possible to have a healthy relationship with social media, but if I’m totally honest, that’s something I currently merely aspire to.
I finally tried it, guys!
Honestly, it was disappointing. I had such high expectations that I’d constructed a sort of mythology around it: a shot that’s sort of alcohol and sort of an omelette and sort of pudding and sort of Christmas. In reality it was just like someone mixed brandy butter with custard. Don’t get me wrong, that’s ace, but I was expecting my whole life to change.