Thursday, 17 December 2009


Everyone needs an enemy in their workplace. In my first few weeks at the cafe I spent a lot of time observing my new colleagues, searching for signs of personality disorders, trying to decide which one of them I would refer to as my enemy when talking about my job to outsiders.

I found him one Friday morning. His name is Damian. At first I thought he was a good man, genuine and youthful. We even shared handshakes and jokes during our shifts together. I'd written him off as an enemy because we seemed to have the chemistry of childhood friends, but that morning he took a joke too far. In a matter of seconds the joke became an insult. I laughed it off but then it kept happening throughout the day. After the lunch rush I pulled him aside to let him know how I felt.
"Damian," I said. "You are my enemy. Our hands will never shake again. If we happen to be playing football or field hockey against each other and at the final whistle our teammates are all shaking hands in good sportsmanship, ours won't even come close. Understood?"
He smirked in a way that suggested I was joking, that this was all some big, weird joke I was playing on him.
"Understood?!" I snarled, grabbing his arm and shaking him violently.
"Um...yeah. Understood," he conceded with a strange look in his eyes, a look I read into as one of guilt and remorse.

I released him and went back to my post on the coffee machine feeling settled, at peace. I had finally made my workplace enemy and immediately started rehearsing the stories that I'd be telling later on to my flatmates and neighbours when they asked about my day.

Thursday, 10 December 2009


“Good morning to you
My energetic colleague
I’ve missed you deeply,” I said as I entered the cafe.
"Why are you talking like that?" replied Ingrid as she arranged the food display. "Sometimes I hate you so much."
"I apologize
As I'm living in haiku
For one magic day."
Ingrid rolled her eyes. "You're just such a wacky guy, aren't you. What will you do next?" she asked.
"That I can't answer
With absolute honesty
Only time will tell," I answered, taken aback by her ruthlessness.
"I'm sorry, man. I'm still a bit drunk. You know that I'm a mean drunk," she said. "I wish I could be a lovable drunk but...I can't. I can't."
"A sentence said twice
Is just a little bit queer
Wouldn't you agree?" I asked mischievously.
"You're a little bit queer," she scathed.

Ingrid and I had been colleagues for less than a month and already our relationship was fractured. When she first started at the cafe I thought that she was the one, that within days we'd have formed a strong bond, working and loving in harmony. On her trial shift, I made my intentions clear. I told her of my desire to seduce her by candlelight. My aggression worked and by midnight we were lovers.

For a week it was perfect. I liked to think of us as a young husband and wife team running our busy little cafe in the heart of Soho, working amongst the employees to save costs on wages, to save money for the baby we were trying for. When the baby was born I would be a cool-dad, dressing our son in tiny versions of my own attire. When he was old enough we'd ride our scooters together around the neighborhood, having races where I'd let him win but not by much. But then she ended it, said it was getting weird, that I was too full-on for her.

"Well, the time has come
For us to open the doors
It is a new day," I said wistfully.
She said nothing to this, just frowned.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


"I taught you everything you know...everything!" snarled a familiar voice. My heart would sink whenever Bob came into the cafe. He's an ex-colleaugue Bulleted Listfrom my days at Perfecto. I was new to making coffee back then and he thinks of himself as my mentor. He beckoned me to lean in close. "Closer," he demanded. His breath smelt of cider and I could feel myself about to lose my cool.
"Look Bob, I don't have time for this. These people behind you are waiting for their coffee," I whispered aggressively.
"Hear me out, rookie," he said. "I want to take you out to dinner, just me and you. We can ask the waiter for a private booth and tell each other our deepest secrets."
"I don't know, Bob. That sounds a bit weird."
"What do you mean 'weird?'" he said, raising his voice. "If I'm going to continue to mentor you I need to know absolutely everything about you. No more secrets, rookie. Understand?"
A waiting customer cleared his throat in annoyance and I looked over at him with an apologetic expression. He seemed to be telling me something with his eyes. It roughly translated to, "Just agree to have dinner with this madman then make my god-damn latte! I'm a busy man!" They say that the customer is always right so I took his advice.
"Fine Bob, fine." I sighed as I went back to making the coffees on order. "We'll have dinner together and swap secrets."
"Deep secrets," he corrected.
"Yes, deep ones. Now can you please leave?"
"But I want a coffee. I'll have my usual," he said smugly. My heart sank even further. Whenever he ordered a coffee he would stand to the side of the machine and watch me like a hawk, asking irritating questions about my process and mocking the patterns I would make on the coffees no matter how good they came out. I would make a textbook rosetta and he'd say it's assymetrical. I'd make a dragon and he'd ask why it's not breathing fire. If I made a love-heart he'd say it's more of a hate-heart.

As I was about to make the next coffee in line- a double espresso- the manager, Althea, approached me like an angel and informed me it was time for my break. I told her what the status of the coffees were and stormed out to smoke a furious cigarette, desperately hoping that when I returned Bob wouldn't be there, that he'd have gone back to doing whatever it is he does with his days.