Crumbs

“No, mom! Don’t talk to her, ask that guy over there, the NICE one.”

I am her, and at that point in my day at work, I couldn’t give less of a crap about the woman saying it. I believe I caught a glimpse of what has to be the tenth circle of hell that Dante was too scarred to write about. That circle where you’re working in a busy coffeeshop where nothing works and it never stops being 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It has to be, because it surely made me find Jesus again.

The shop I work at is located right in Center City. We have many times when we’re slammed with customers and everything is hectic. It’s to be expected. I wouldn’t work in food service if I couldn’t handle chaos. And to be honest, I kind of crave a good amount of chaos in my life; I wasn’t hugged enough as a child, sue me. But I have never felt as overwhelmed at my cafe as I was this day.

The best part of weathering a shitstorm is that by the time you’ve absolutely had enough, things finally die down and you look at the time to see that there’s only 5 minutes left in your shift. Time moves in hyperdrive when you’re too frazzled to pay attention to it.

By the time I served what seemed like about 100 customers, I look at the clock to see that only a mere thirteen minutes had passed since the last time I had checked. This is defying all rules and principles of madness. How is this happening? What cruel joke is this? Every time I desperately look at the time, none has passed me by.

It’s the worst kind of misery. Every fiber of your being wants to ball up in a corner and sob, but you know that won’t stop the gremlin-esque, caffeine-lacking customers from still needing things and yelling at you. And then you’d have a puddle of tears to mop up, and you’re already tip-toeing around the lake of spilled Half and Half nobody has been able to clean that a customer dropped earlier. So you push through. You feed the gremlins. With all the rapidly depleting energy you already don’t have. And they are blatant in their utter lack of appreciation. Somebody ordered a slice of cake.

It was the last slice of cake on display. and I plate it for the customer and start taking away the cakestand to wash it.

“Hey. Hey! EXCUSE ME!

I turn around to see who’s screaming. It’s the same guy who I just served the slice of cake to.

“I want the crumbs.”

“I’m sorry?”

I want the crumbs.”

Really, sir? Sir, whom I understand can see. With two perfectly functioning eyes that must clearly see me and my coworker drowning in the sea of demands being thrown at us by other overbearing, entitled, rude and hungry patrons, such as yourself. And upon receiving what you asked for in a timely manner, despite the horde you had to fight through to get it, you decide, You know, these poor souls just don’t seem like they hate their lives quite enough. I need the scraps off of the cakestand that they don’t have the time to return to because there are meals going cold that need to be run to tables and lattes that need to be crafted and only two pairs of more than full hands to do it all. Yes, the crumbs. Nothing is of greater importance and I must have it now. Really, sir?

I walked away. Yeah. I am only human, and I have my limits. If I didn’t ask my coworker to handle it, the situation would have gone very differently, and I would no longer have a job. Heck, I would no longer have my freedom for a while.

And I look at the time again. 1:23pm. This isn’t right. Last time I checked the time it definitely said 1:37pm.

Son of a…

 

 

This happened about a year ago and I still remember it vividly. It was possibly the worst day of my entire working life, let alone that job.

No.. I didn’t. I may have wanted to briefly, but our street was closed for construction and there wasn’t any traffic to walk into.

I’m kidding.

But if you ever ask me how things are going and I tell you, “Life is asking me for crumbs,” you’ll understand where I’m at.

 

 

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The Fire Hydrant Leaks

You ever try too hard to be a decent person?

I feel as though the universe actively combats your efforts with unnecessary vigor.

Like you’re too eager, and it doesn’t trust your true intentions.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that chaos will always prevail. You can either let it flow and mind your business, or you can fight the current and inevitably get swept away, becoming a vessel of the very madness you tried to prevent.

The fire hydrant outside my apartment is leaking.

I saw a small stream of water running down the curb one day.

Hmm…

I looked for a car being washed up the road or something. Saw nothing. Moved on with my day.

I saw the stream of water again another day.

Okay, where is this coming from?

A quick scan and I see the hydrant a few yards away, leaking a little. Mystery solved, and I thought nothing more of it. Moved on with my day.

I think knowing what the source of the water was blinded me to it for a while, but a week or two later, I paid attention again.

That hydrant is still leaking. How long has it been? That’s like…not good, right?

It isn’t good, right? It can’t be. We need that water.. That’s why we have hydrants. To have access to water. What happens if it all leaks out? Don’t I pay for this water? Taxes totally pay for fire hydrants and water and sewage and stuff.

My taxes… 

I am being billed for this leak right now.

Oh hell no.

But what to do? I guess I have to tell the city. Has anybody else cared enough to say something to someone? Has anyone even noticed the leak? Nobody is going to do anything. It’s up to me. I have to be the one. That’s noble, isn’t it? Yeah, man! I’m a good f’n citizen of Philadelphia. I’m reporting a leak! But, who do I notify? Who will fix it?

The Fire Department would be my assumption. At this point, I was on a crusade. There was levels to this. I didn’t just report some leak, like it was something simple. Being good is work. I had to research the number to the fire department, because it’s not like I could just call 911 for a hydrant.

I looked up their number and called.

No answer.

I called a second time.

No answer.

I looked up a different number.

Disconnected line.

So not only am I paying for wasted water, but I’m also paying for the fire department to not have phones that work?

I called 911 for a fire hydrant.

I had to. They made me. There was no other way. Somebody needed to know and fix this leak. Somebody, anybody.

911: 911, what’s your emergency?

Me: Yeah, hi. I don’t really have an emergency, but I don’t know who else to call. So there’s this hydrant leaking outside my apartment…

They asked my address and some questions about the hydrant, thanked me for calling it in, and said they’d send someone out as soon as possible. Felt good, I saved some water. I gave our taxes purpose. The city thanked me. I just did a good thing.

The hydrant outside my apartment is still leaking a month and a half later.

 

It leaks as I speak…

As I speak, it currently leaks…

 

I walk out everyday, and there’s that constant stream, running down my block.

I started seeing traces of my patience and sanity float by along with it, too.

 

Water.

 

Water that my taxes pay for.

Water that a concerned citizen notified the fire department about over a month ago.

Water that the fire department said they would stop from leaking.

Water that they probably heard about and hung up to promptly laugh over my concern…mocking me, having a good ol’ time.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency…

 

Now wouldn’t that be unfortunate, an emergency?

 

What if, say…one of the dilapidated houses on my block just, I don’t know…caught fire…somehow? Like, that could totally happen, yeah? They’re very abandoned. Very…made of flammable material.

A fire on my block…

The fire department would rush to the scene, sirens blaring from the big red fire engine, neighbors running outside for safety, for spectacle.

The firefighters pull out the hose, connect it to the fire hydrant, and oh?

The hose points to the billowing flames, but nothing juts out.

Panic ensues from the growing audience around the block as the flames grow out of control and charred remains of abandoned house start falling, with no water to hose it down.

 

Water.

 

Where’s the water? What’s wrong with the fire hydrant? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WATER?

 

“Oh, the water? HOW PECULIAR,” a deranged voice screams from the crowd, laughing maniacally, “WHEREVER DID IT ALL GO? OH, I THINK I SEE IT, THAT STREAM BY THE CURB TRICKLING DOWN THE STREET…A LEAK? A LEAK EMPTIED ALL THE WATER? WHAT A SHAME! IF ONLY SOMEONE REPORTED THAT LEAK BEFORE SUCH AN EMERGENCY! DID NO GOOD, CONCERNED CITIZEN NOTIFY YOU OF THIS LEAK? Maybe someone did. Maybe someone called. Where were you then, huh!? Laughing, possibly, on the other end of the line I bet? Now look at what you’ve done! Heh.. heh heh, hahaha…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE! WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?”

Yeah, soooo I’m just gonna let the hydrant leak.