Note: The events detailed in this entry actually occurred on Thursday, September 2nd. Sorry I’m late! Anarchronistic references, such as the “last weekend” right there in the first paragraph below, should be based on that date.
My last day was sort of anticlimactic, in the sense of the old saying “same shit, different day.” Not that I expected something different to swoop down and say, “Golly, today’s your last day. Good luck with the rest of your life!” Hell, Thursday wasn’t even supposed to be my last day. To make sure I, ever the procrastinator, met the deadline for the TV writing fellowship, I donated my last day to a newer employee who bitched at me all last weekend about how she wasn’t getting enough hours.
I actually wanted Thursday off, too, since the manager scheduled me for eight days in a row again and I had no time to write something that should’ve been finished weeks ago. It’s nice to be loved, but Christ, give me a day off. Anyway, this girl couldn’t switch with me because she was being traded between us and another store (and still was getting shit hours) and was working at the other store, so Thursday became my last day.
Not unusually, I worked the afternoon. It was sort of depressing coming in because, despite some of the bullshit that happened involving customers, I fucking loved this job. Not just the job, but the shop, the coffee we make, the coworkers, et cetera. I’m reasonably unenthusiastic about the neighborhood, a strange hodgepodge of tourists and bums on the weekdays and slutty girls and frat guys (and bums!) on the weekends. But the neighborhood, undesirable as it may be for many reasons, has character.
I’m getting distracted and all silly about leaving. To be honest, after living in Seattle for three months, I pretty much hate it. It probably doesn’t help that my primary, secondary, and tertiary locales are arguably the three worst neighborhoods in the city, but in a city this small, three shit neighborhoods are enough. Plus, even the good neighborhoods aren’t very good. The place is a shithole in general. But if I could’ve had this job in Chicago, I never would’ve left it. Well, maybe I would’ve, but I would’ve been happy there for a long time.
I closed with Sandy, who I’d closed (or opened) with almost every shift since I got there. Before she gets to know you, she’s extremely gruff and treats you like one of her kids. But, and I think it’s a combination of getting to know her and getting to know the job better, she started to lighten up after a couple of weeks, and our working relationship was great. It was nice that my last shift was with her. On Wednesday night, I closed with somebody who’s normally the morning lead—Lucie, who is training to be a manager and has to work closing shifts to prove she can do either interchangeably.
In addition to being extremely rusty at the closing game, she spent the entire night rushing me because she wanted to get out early. Like I didn’t—it’s not my fault there’s so much shit to do. I wasn’t really a dick about it, because she’s really fucking hot, but in retrospect, it didn’t matter since I was leaving the job the following day and the city the following week. Oh well.
So Sandy and I had the store humming like a well-oiled machine for the first few hours. And then business died for almost the entire night. We thought foot traffic for the Seahawks game would drive business up (our store is right up the street from the stadiums), but clearly their team is not as popular as the Mariners. Possibly because they somehow manage to suck more ass than the Mariners.
When business dies, we try to clean as much of the store as humanly possible. I also measured myself up a few pounds of the new coffees that we’re introducing for the fall so I could still get them with my employee discount. It was nice that business was slow, because I could spend some time mentally ironing out problems in my script. I find that a retail job that gets a lot of business kind of sucks for me because so much is going on, I don’t have much time to just zone out and think like I do on a 9-to-5 job.
During one of these thinking bouts, a regular we affectionately call Drunk Dennis (behind his back) shambled in looking to fill his water bottle up with ice. Since it’s a water bottle with a big fat Tully’s logo on it, we aren’t allowed to deprive him despite the fact that he doesn’t buy anything with it and the fact that he makes no bones about the fact that he’s going to go fill up the bottle with some beer and needs the ice to keep it cold while he stumbles around Pioneer Square.
Dennis is a really funny guy. He’s on disability, so he doesn’t have to work. He shows up at Tully’s between 6 and 7 every morning and stays until noon or later. He drinks about five cups of coffee during that time, then wanders off during the afternoon to get loaded, periodically returning for more ice in his bottle, each time getting progressively drunker. He also, during my last two weeks of work, started carrying a bedroll around with him. He has an apartment in Pioneer Square, but he’s too lazy to go back to it once he’s out, so he takes advantage of the fact that he’s a regular to use our bathroom, and he uses the bedroll so he can sleep on benches in the square or next to the fountain in Occidental Park.
So mid-afternoon, Dennis showed up, wanting his bottle refilled. He had a Walkman with him, and he was listening to some Springsteen tapes. He came up to me and kept talking to me about how he had never gotten into Springsteen when he was popular, but now that he listens to him (in a drunken stupor), The Boss writes some really deep lyrics. In the meantime, the one customer who was there was silently freaking out that this loud man who reeks of beer seems to get special treatment at the Tully’s. That’s great for business, right?
So I filled his cup with ice and sent him on his way as soon as possible. All was well for another few hours. Business was very slow, if not completely dead. About an hour before close, a Scottish guy came in and frantically asked if he could use the “House of Lords.” Having never heard that expression before, I started laughing because, honestly, it’s pretty damn funny. Funny enough that I gave him the key even though he wasn’t a paying customer.
The gentleman came back a few minutes later and thanked me profusely. He got my name and seemed thrilled at American hospitality (he clearly has not visited Chicago) before wandering back out.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, he came back—with Dennis. Dennis bought him a cup of tea, and the two (who were both, it turns out, completely loaded) essentially took over the store. They were noisy, brazen, completely ignoring the few other customers who were coming in. They blasted the Seahawks game on Dennis’s Walkman and then attempted to talk over it. It was obnoxious, but technically, we’re not allowed to do a damn thing about it; they’re paying customers. Sort of.
Sandy and I started to get frustrated, though. The hour before close is a sacred ritual, wherein we attempt to clean as much as we possibly can so staying after we’re officially closed is minimized. And unfortunately, this is almost always fucked up by the goddamn customers. Inevitably, five minutes before close, some yuppie will come in and want a viente brevé sugar-free hazelnut and (repeat: and!) sugar-free vanilla split latté so he can stay awake while he trolls Bar Alley.
I swear, everybody on the planet is out to ruin my goddamn life.
Nobody like that came in Thursday night, though. In fact, aside from Drunk Dennis and his Scottish friend, the place was pretty quiet. Sandy and I were just quietly nervous that we wouldn’t get them to leave when it was actually time to lock the doors. Dennis was always a nice guy, but he’d never come in loaded before (at least, not while either of us were working), so we didn’t really know how well he’d respond to us kicking him out on his ass.
But it wasn’t a problem. He and the Scottish guy livened up my last shift, rather than completely fucking it up and leaving me with a bad memory of Tully’s.
So we got them out, got the furniture in, locked the doors, and finished cleaning up. When I was done, I waited a little for Sandy to finish closing out the till, and we walked out together.
“See ya later,” I said, as always.
Sandy grinned at me like I was a dumbass. “No, you won’t.”
“I’m sure I’ll be in sometime next week,” I said (although I’m bummed that I never made it back while she was on duty; I picked up the coffee we couldn’t ring up while the manager, who knew how to do it, was on).
We went our separate ways, me to catch the 36 and her to hopefully catch her air-conditioned 11.
Like I said, anti-climactic.