new to town

chapter 10


-  orientation -–- - – - -- - - - -  -  -    -     -        -        -


What would you have done? cause i was prety short on ideas.

late for what?

[ i said, or somethin like that ]

orientation. and contrary to popular opinion, orientation is not optional.

his menacing stare was intimidating. at least enough to keep me
from sayin what i should of said—  what the fuckre you talkin about dude?

youll fit right in, buncha hipees, do you have any idea what
it means to own a bisni$$? to invest in something? you know where wed
be right now if it wasnt for investment? ill give ya a hint, it starts with an
aitch and it aint calld heaven

give it a rest marko.

kathleen said that.

i hadnt realized shed come in.

but she was definatly in. she walkd up to the
counter and boosted herself on top of it, stood up there, shot a look
at the coffee mobster before he could say anything—

ill getdown in a second,

i have an anouncement.

youll be cleanin my counter with windex.

ok ill clean it with windex,

now chill the fuckout.

i dont know if he chilled the fuckout, but atleast he got quiet.

kathleen cleard her throat.

put her hands to her mouth like a megaphone


the place went silent. excepfor the tinklin of the ivories.


the piano stopt.

is anybody expecting?

no one said anything.

anybody know anybody whos expecting?

expecting what?

[ i askd, but was ignored ]

a shy looking guy spoke up—

i heard andy and deidra were.

andy and D?kathleen said ] we saw those cocksuckers

on the way up here, they werent expectin anything,

they were smokin a blunt and lisnen to outkast.

thats how they roll [ somebody said ]

troodat. well maybe they were so hi they blew

right past us.

or they couldnt see us for the smoke [ dave ]

who are andy and deidra? [ i askt ]

their peeple! [ kathleen ]

their friends of ours [ dave ]

but markos patience had reachd its limits.

i dont care who y friends are, your still late to


wait— did somebody actialy show up to orientation?

the chick who said that walkt up— enterd with a presence much larger than her physical frame.

evrybody was lookin at me.

i didnt mean to [ i said ]

you are aware its unpaid?

said the new chick, she was tiny, but not like you call petite. more like scrappy. i was gona say a rabid squirel, but realy she was more like somethin that just finishd kickin a rabid squirls ass.

i dont know...

looks like you found yourself a sucker, marko.

i hope ta god your right.

hey im trish i work here, well be soulmates

by x mas...

[ she walkt past me, still talkin ]

long as you dont lissen to music ironicly or forget to

way the beans, blueskys a sweet gig bytheway, dont know how you got it
fresh off the boat...

she launchd herself over the counter like a gymnast on
one a those horses, dismounted by the timeclock and clockd in still talkin,
she never stopd talkin

somebodys dick got suckd thats fer sure, hopefuly

you wont hafta return the flavor, or maybe it d do ya some good, you look
like a cathlick are you a cathlick?

well, not practicing

i take that as a yes, good,

maybe you can teach me some alterboy trix, theres this perverted ex-priest
i been thinkin a goin after— MARKO! you better not of touchd my oldcrow,
do i need to remind you what happend the lastime,

and so forth.

Kathleen put a hand on my shoulder and gave me an encouraging smile, like she was my mom and this was the firstday of school.

i think you should do it! i mean, your already here.

go thru orientation?


but im not gona work here. i think thiss somebodys idea of a joke.

joke or no joke, the tips are real, im sure you could use the

scrilla with your car an evrything. if you ask nice i bet markoll let ya keep
half the tips while your back there— wont you, marko?

marko lookt around to make sure evryone understood
he was doin them a huge favor.

IF its alright with trish.

shit yeah. he can flirt with the chicks ill flirt with

the dicks, well make a shit-ton.

wait [ i said ]

sorry no time to wait [ kathleen said ] we have a

dinner date with jon davies, a notorius time-nazi. come with us if you want, but we aint gona have time to stop by the hotel.

or we could swing by and getcha after orientation

dave said ] ill show ya a cool shortcut to the hotel.

my instinct was to get while the gettin was good. but the bluesky dream, remember? the whole reason i came here.

i gues ill stay.


kathleen said ]

well be back in an hour or so.

dave said ]

and they left.

leaving me alone in bluesky.

altho i wasnt realy alone.

D said you got experience but i aint seen it in writin, and if i aint seen it

in writin i asume its a lie  am i right?

that was marko ]


would you like me to repeat myself? maybe if i talkd slower?

Do  you   have   experience?

in coffee?


he threw up his hands

id fire ya right now, but you wouldnt believ the paper trail—

i still cant believ those hipees tore themselvs away from

the bong long enuf to organize.

i think you have me mixd up with somebody else tho.

are you not al dixon?

no, im al dixon, but i didnt apply to work here. maybe

somebody s playin a joke on me. do you know the guy who does athensquotes,
booty something

are you drunk?


[ when thrown into confrontation, my powermove is to act confused ]

you betternot be comin in drunk, to your orien tation.

i havent had a drink in three an a half years.

thats a good one, leme smell your breath.

he gestured like i was a dog and he wanted me to come. i backd away,
no doubt. posibly trembeld.

if your drunk, i swear ill fire ya so fast itll make your head spin around

like a hipee at a phish show, the union can  you think thats funny?

uh=uh, no.

how much ve you had? if its only a cuppla beers i wont fire ya.

and dont lie, i can spot a lie from a hundred yards and i dont

need binnoculers.

honestly— i havent had a drink since november 2006.

wellthen lemme smell your breath. cmon, i wont tell ya

if you have halla-tosiss.

just do it [ trish said ] its better on this side a the counter


goodpoint trish. now leme smell your breath or your fired.

if i havent been drinking, can i go?

yeah yeah yeah.

i can just walk outa here?

IF you havent been drinkin. if you have your fired.

[ sounded like a win-win ]


i leand in.

come on, i dont bite.

i leand closer. as close as i could make myself.

opend my mouth.

gave him a sample of my breath.


marko jumpd back.

you didnt have to hit me with a cloud a bat breath,

i just needed a sniff. jesus crist i thought you were

gona stick your tung down my throat .


but atleast you past.

he offerd a begrudging smile. i felt so relievd i cant tell you.

your breath smells like a whores ass, tho. an believ me, i know

what a whores ass smells like.

the way he laughd at himself was endearing. id almost made up
my mind to like him.   until. . .

now get back here.

but you said

did you get it in writin?


anser the bosses question, a-l. did you get it in writin?

well, no.

looks like you just lernd your first lesson in bi$niss—

‘if you aint got it in writin, you aint got it.’ now get

your ass back here before i get it for you.

[ he did look ready to lay hands on me if necesary ]

wheres the— how dyou...?

do you see an employee entrance? make like a frog an hop.

i boosted myself over the counter.

around here whatyousee is whatyouget, you see a refri jerater?


cause there aint one, theres an ice chest for milk only, not for

personal shit, do you see a bathroom?

there isnt a bathroom?

use ta be, then along came the bathroom tax and i had to shutter down.

a perfecly good bathroom. if you gotta piss i suggest you find yourself a tree,
if you gota shit theres a jonnyonthespot outback which i am not responsible
for, the union is, so dont come cryin to me when its outa shit tickets.

[ this whole time, by the way, the bluesky patrons were up to a variety of antics. just now they were puttin down a sheet of plywood so this chick could tap dance ]

trish sidled up to me.

dont get strest out. theres realy only two things you need to know

about workin here— one, lissen to evrything marko says...

[ markos face conveyd aproval and skepticism at the same time ]

two, soonas he leaves do whatever the fuck you want, he cant

fire you for anything exept stealin or attackin a customer


ex-cuse me. this is orientation.

morelike dis orientation. do you feel oriented a-l?

not realy.

cause we aint started yet, now WAY THE BEANS!

trish went to work in a huff that was somehow charming.

Marko went strait into training mode—

since you were late, im ona hafta give ya the breeviated version.

basicly, evrything you need to know is on The List.

he produced a heavily laminated piece of paper, chaind to the register with a real chain. both sides of the page were filld with rules in a caligraphy font, with angry coments and suplemental rules scrawld in the margins and between the lines, there wasnt a milimeter of wasted space. ill give you a little sampling, but there is no substitute for holding the actual document in your hands—

the list

etcetera, he let me look at it for about thirty seconds.

now the firsthing you do after you clock in is way the beans.

see this shelf? it should be full before you go on the register. beans are along here, says dark and medium but thats for decoration use whatevers oldest, dates are on the bags, filters are underhere, heres the scale, put the filter on the scale and hit tare, pour the beans in the filter, six-point-four ounces unless your makin a halfgallon then its four-point-two, dont bother writin it down its on The List, stackem up here, newest to the left til the shelf is full. then and only then can you go on the register, got it?

got it.

now for the important part, how to pull a shot.

its basicly the only thing you do, so dont fuckitup. first you take out the portafilter and put it under the hopper. cut on the grinder...

[ the grinder made that whirring sound you always hear in the background of coffeeshops ]

flick this til you fill it up...

[ flka-flka flka-flka flka ]

level off the extra in here, then pack it with the tamper. thirty

pounds a presher no more no less, you fuckup the machine, you know how much they charge to send a guy out to work on it? whos probably HI!

[ he glared at trish ]

you break it, union says i cant take it outa your paycheck so i take it

outa your ass. then, lock in the portafilter a quarter turn, dont try and force it...

he lockd in the filter. it made a satisfying clunk.

you get it jamd in there, you get it jamd outa there.

got it.

then push this button. if they order a dubble tellem we always pull

dubbles, if they want a quadroople just push it again, dont bother repackin it,
i dont want a buncha crackt out hipees runnin around, its bad enough as it is...

he pushd the button. a few seconds later, coffee dript out in two thin creamy lines, the color of caramel.

see that? tail a the mouse. if its too thin make the grind

coarser thats to the left, if its thickern that its pullin too fast, you gota go finer.

hold on

if you wanted me to go slow, you shulda been on time.

you workd a register before right?

well yeah, like ten years ago.

good. this one works exacly like evry other register

before they had to go and fuck em up with computers, heres your price list, the change bags in the safe if you need it, combinations on the backa The List, at the enda the shift take the twenties and stick em in a bag, write your name and the date and drop it in the safe. coffeepotsre behind you, when one runs out make a new pot, beansre on the shelf already wayd suposedly all you gota do is grindem, use the red grinder, this grinder is for drip and drip only, do not adjust the grind, if i see it on anything other than 8 you will face my rath, the switch is broken, you gota cut it on at the powerstrip...

he flickd the switch on a grimy
powerstrip. the grinder came on.

cupsre right here, sinks here for doin

dishes, do not i repeat do not drain both sinks at once, schedules up here
i suggest you read it, heres where you clock in, time cardsre underneeth
already gotcha one, any questions?

there was cleary only one answer.

i guess not.

welcome to bluesky.

he shook my hand. it felt almost official.

if you think a any questions, just look at The List.

anything you need to know, its on there.

just goodluck findin it [ trish said that ]

its there,

marko said, then he exited.

hopt onto the skyblue vespa, and scooted off.

i wonder where hes off to in sucha hurry?

[ a customer askt that ]

only thing ive ever seenim move that fast for is

poker and pussy [ trish said ] and i can tell ya

rightnow it aint pussy.

this sparkd a conversation between trish and the customer regarding markos love life or lack thereof, which left me with a second to myself.

which youd think wouldbe a good thing.

but so many thoughts rushd into my head at once, it overheated. i had to take a deep breath, relax...


the punchcard! i cant believ i hadnt thought a that yet, that should give you some indication of my mindstate.

i didnt see any sittin around, so i askd trish.

ohsure, in theory we gott em, but i aint seen one

since thanksgiving. and goodluck gettin marko to do anything about it,
i been tryin ta gettim to fix the anserin machine for two years.

i reachd in my pocket. felt the flimsy cardstock.

my hand trembled as i showd the card to trish.

whered you get that?

i found it in my kitchen. i dont know how it got there.

i ve never been to bluesky, i ve never even been to athens before today, i
didnt apply for this job either, i dont know where marko got the idea im
spose to work here

so you havent even— you didnt— you just got here?

this mornin.

you met your peeps tho, right?

i dont know anybody here.

oh dude.


a-l, its hi time you got aquainted with the bird.

she rooted around under the counter.

whyd you say my peeps? did somebody tell you i was comin?

its just an expresion.

but whadoes it mean?


i know that. but why would i have people here? ive never been here.

trish took a deep breath.

i know things are confusing, a-l. but trustme when i tell ya— its the

good kinda confusing.

trish found what she was lookin for— a plastic handle of wiskey.
old crow if i wasnt mistaken.

here thisll help.

she handed me the crow.

i dont drink.

but its your firsday in athens.

its not my first day, its my only day.

troodat, dude. true dat.

its your firsday?

this was spoken by a customer who i would later learn was calld saxy larry. he lived up to his name, too. a tenor sax hung from his shoulder, and he was dead sexy.

saxy larry proceeded to blow a version of happy birthday to you that rivald marilyn monroes for sultriness. trish sang along—

happy firsday to you

etcetera, imagine joan jett and tom waits singin at the same time. or fightin.

When the song was over, i said—

thanks a lot yall. but im not movin here.

they were quiet.



whyre yall bein so secretiv? its startin to get annoying.

[ i tried to scowl, tho im no good at scowling ]

we dont mean to be secretiv [ saxy larry said ] its just. . .

we cant say it [ trish ] you hafta say it first.

shes not bein hyperbolic [ larry ] we realy cant.

cant say what?

the anser to your question [ trish ]

what question?

the question dude. dont wory about it rightnow, you

got other fish to fry, here comes your first custammer.

trish boosted herself over the counter.

im ona step outside for a minnit. dont come get me

unless he gets violent.


sink or swim, a-l. its the only way to lern.

So he walkt up, my first customer. he lookt like happy dwarf.

You must be the new guy.


well your new to me anyway. so i need two coffees, but heres the thing...

[ he held up a finger ]

im not gona pay for em.

your not?


the easiest thing was to do as he said, pour him two coffees. i knew where the cups were, and the coffee.

as i was pourin, i tried to think back to all my coffeeshop experiences. what was spose to happen on the other side of the counter? there was somethin they always said. . . ah, yes—

you need room for cream?

dude lookd shockd. and offended.

i thought you said you werent new?! dont let

marko catch ya askin that, or trish either. just pour it an inch from the top and
ill deal, its on The List.  hey im tyler, i use to work here, i still do tecnicly.


i shook is hand and past im his coffees.


just al. A-L.

aight a-l, niceta meetcha. if i dont see ya tonite

ill definatly see you at trishs show tomoro, its

at caledonia, be there or shell freakout, peace.

i wont be here tomor

but he was already gone.

i took a peek in the tip jar.

or, more acurately, the jar to

offset the extraction of surplus value

there were a few bills in there. i was just about to tak em out when trish came howling—

what are you doing? plant a seed

a-l, plant a seed. i thought you workd in a
coffeeshop before. thats bullshit isnt it? it is,
i can see it on your face.  youve workd in a
coffeeshop like ive campt out in madonnas
canyonous cunt.

did i mention she had one of the most
amazing smoker voices you ever heard?

you atleast know how to pull a shot

tho, right?

marko showd me.

prolly said taila the mouse and calld it a day. tail of markos dicks

more like it, tho id rather deepfry my eyeballs and eatem like

tater tots than view that fuckers pecker, here, watch—

she ground some coffee into the portafilter.

pact it.

the firstime pack it light, just to getchoo a good even

surface. . . tap it—

tap tap ]

then packit again. this time with pressure. bet he

told you thirty pounds. what the hell is thirty

pounds? bare down like your opnen a pickel jar.

she packd the coffee, then placed the portafilter in the machine and rotated it a quarter turn.

youll feel it lock. then press this one.

she prest a button with a picture of
two coffee cups. a few seconds later, twin strands of caramel trickled
down, about the thickness of a mouses tail—

or so i thought.

but trish wrinkld her nose.

dam marko, you call that calibrated?

she dumpd it out.

you can serv that shit if you want,

but im heer ta tell ya   most any regulars gona throw it back in yer face,
and im not bein metaforical. check the grind evrytime you pull. the
finer the grind, the thinner the tail.

she adjusted the grinder and pulld a new shot.

this one met with her aproval.

when that one was done she bangd out the
basket and packt another. while it was pulling, she reachd into the
ice chest and came out with a can of sweetend condensd milk and a
bottle of hersheys syrup. she pourd them into a mug with the espresso,
coverd it with a saucer, shook it like a cocktail, and dumpd it into a pint
glass filld with ice.

trishs sweet jizz, its calld, sweetern your mamas sweet

sweet pussy. peoplell order it time ta time, if you likem you can make it, if
not tellem they can order off the menu like evrybody else, not that we hav a
menu, wana sip?

she offerd her glass.

im good, actialy.

im sure you are.

so, trish— im free to go anytime, right?

this is the en em aitch, your free to do anything you want. cept

kill somebody or negotiate the value of your laborpower.

[ i didnt ask ]

im going, then.

we split the tips—five-fifty each. not bad,
considering i wasnt there that long and we werent that busy.

on my way out, trish calld after me—

see ya tonight.

maybe so.

oh ill see you tonite dude, dontchyou

wory bout that.

and she was right.

but i dont wana get aheada myself.