I’m sitting in my coffeeshop writing about regulars and there’s a ladybug traveling across the window sill

I’m sitting in my coffeeshop writing about regulars and there’s a ladybug traveling across the window sill

Freewill  

It’s hard for me to remember names as much as it is easy for me to remember orders and faces but there’s a handful of names I can pick out from those I do remember and I can write them down and say “goodmorning”.

But when I talk “too” much to the customers my boss will come up from behind me and he’ll call out good customer service even though he thanks us over the holidays for exactly that. He’ll purposefully make the customers feel uncomfortable. He is a dictator. That’s probably why names are so hard because I do not get the chance to learn them more. He stands there and stares at Carrie with his glasses on his nose and he says “When you’re done Gretchen can you wipe the tables down, make sure the napkins are full, check all the sugars, and start packaging cookies?”

It’s these things I’m so used to after two years of working at the same place, I know to do these things, but it’s just Paul. I try not to complain to myself or friends because it makes me seem less strong for myself and for what I do but at the end of the day, it’s just a coffee shop, I’m making minimum wage, I work for a man with anger management and I don’t blame him and I don’t know why.

One night, I stayed after work with his sister and she spoke to me for half an hour about how President Donald Trump is the best candidate and at that time he was just Donald Trump but now he is president and I had to stand there and just listen. All I could think is at least I didn’t clock out yet.

When we are around dictators we can not stand up and I’ve learned to say yes and no and thank you and okay (I will *laugh at your joke because you’re my boss, *smile like I’m happy to be there, say I’m sorry, and blame myself even if it’s on someone else because you don’t want to hear what really happened). And when I’m actually happy for a day there, you’re not.

He’s getting better. He has anger management and he went through a divorce with a woman who lied uncontrollably and I think this is why he hates Hillary so much because that is what scares him.

But what scares him more are women, and those are the ones I make conversation with when I am at work, and those are the ones he takes me away from when he see’s me smiling and telling a woman to “enjoy her day”. He loves the idea of women but I am a woman and he looks past me as a woman and more as his worker.

Carrie; 8am (every day) 1 Lg. Coffee, 1 Cinnamon rugelach w/ lots of cinnamon, 1 Sophia ( for her husband), 1 Zucchini muffin

-Always has her bluetooth in her ear. She’ll pass me a note if she’s on a call with everything listed with her gift card that has over $100 on it. She told me once she took a conference call at 3am because one person was in an office across the world and the rest were scattered across the states. She talks my ear off but she cares about me and I Iove her for that; women.

Dana; 8:30 am & 5:00 pm (every day) 1 lg. Coffee (half full so she can fill it to the brim with simple syrup), 1 large mocha with whip, 1 quart of soup she’ll pick up later, always pays with her gift card.

Barb & Dave; anytime, any day, , always has the exact change, $15.16, 1 lg. Coffee with room, 1 sm coffee with room, two ham and swiss quiche heated to go ( don’t put them in the oven too long because Dave has to get to work, Barb just retired, Dave doesn’t talk, Barb puts on a smile)

Ruthie: 9am, the most excited woman in the world for her pecan rolls, always has the exact change. Ruthie runs through the door while someone else is usually holding it open for her. She’s short with glasses and talks too fast. She’ll peer over the glass and start counting how many pecans are on each roll and she’ll yell “That one ! That one right there!” she’ll throw her change on the counter and run out with her bag, and the newer staff usually stare at me with a shocked face because her actions are like watching someone run through those old 40’s black and white silent films.

Mark; once a month, he calls in for an ‘Isabella’ (passion fruit mousse, raspberry creme brulee, and white cake) and I say would you like an inscription? And on each Isabella he has me write, “Happy Birthday Betch” for all his friends.

Lisa; 10 am, doesn’t say too much other than the generic customer to worker relationship conversations. 1 sm extra hot hot chocolate, 1 orange chocolate chip scone.

A woman that buys candies for her son at college and spends well over $60 on these candies every two weeks or so. She puts boxes and care packages together full of krispie clusters and chocolate caramel marshmallow clouds

This weird couple; 10:30 am, the strangest looking couple I have ever seen but they’re the nicest. I’m not sure their names because they are both so quiet and socially awkward that I just want to move on to the next customer. The woman is very tall with short gray hair and smoke wrinkles cover the entirety of her face, eye sockets are deep and dark, always wearing a multi colored shirt from Goodwill. The man has jet black hair tied in a pony tale, wire glasses, scruff… I think, he’s shorter, always wearing a black jean jacket and a not-too-good band t-shirt. In two separate bags, 2 chocolate croissants, an almond croissant, and a kouign amann.

Rich the mailman; “Anything going out today?”

British guy ( I lost his name somewhere); usually in the morning, 12 almond croissants, 12 chocolate croissants, and 6 plain croissants, and a quiche for himself. He is the founder of an organic clothing line in China… he brings all the pastries to China when he goes. He just got engaged and his fiance and him have come to two of our cooking classes.

Sherry; I never know when Sherry will stop in. She decorates the plant boxes out front. She has a massive boob job and wants to send her kid to Columbia College and always talks to me about it. We don’t pay her money because Paul thinks it’s a lot better to pay her with six mini lemon tarts a day, every day, throughout the year, and twelve on Sundays because we are closed on Mondays.

Man.

_________ He looks 50. I don’t know his name but he came in every day for a cappuccino until my classes started and he would have the capp with no lid and extra foam and he would sit in the front and wait for me to bring his drinks out and he was always so kind. One day I brought them out and he stood up a few inches away from my face and asked me about my boyfriend, Connor. He asked how we are doing. Then he looked at my feet and dragged his eyes up to my lips and my eyes and he said, “ you look really great today.”

I changed my shift hours.

Man.

________He looks 60. I don’t know his name but he would come in for individual cakes before my classes started. He would order the cakes first, stand at the register, and my co worker realized he stands there to watch my ass when I bend over to take the cakes out of the case. Then he will ask for the coffee while he pays because he won’t be able to see my ass when I get the coffee. “ Have a great day young lady.” Young lady. Young lady. And the term disgusts me.

Man.

_______ He looks 45. I don’t know his name but he came in one time looking for a birthday cake. He was flirting it up and I always ignore the flirting, I was 18 at the time and I’m there to work, when I asked for an inscription he said, “Happy 18th Birthday Bella”, “my daughter.” He then asked me to come to the front and describe the other cakes just for ‘kicks’. He didn’t know I was his daughter’s age, maybe he did.

Man.

______He looks 40. I don’t remember his name but when he was ordering his box of baked goods he said, “I’ve lost two hundred pounds and now look at what I’m ordering. It took two years to lose it!” I said, “ It’s okay! You look good. You gotta treat yourself sometimes.” I say this to be nice and as I ring him up he slips me his business card and his debit. That night I was grossed out, being 18 and all. I looked him up on facebook when I told my mom and his cover photo was of a family of him and six kids and his wife. He’s a realtor.

Paul.

_______He looks 45. He doesn’t remember customers names. I walked back to get him one time from the kitchen and I said a woman was there to talk to him and as we walked to the front together he whispered, “Is she a hot one?” and I said “you can tell me what you think.”( she was a short old asian woman, sorry Paul. Sorry you’re talking to me like every other man that dictates does) I never know what to say. I know because he’s saying this stuff, he is comfortable with me. I know his name too well and I remember the way he’s treated employees since the day I got the job. He whispers “Tell that weirdo to answer the phone more often.” or “He’s kind of a freak.” I first thought he was so kind and thoughtful for letting me take desserts home but within a week that changed. I remember him laughing at his own jokes and I remember when Cindy would joke, he would stare at me with a beat red face, looking as if he were about to blow up, and he’d storm to the back. We had a cake called the ‘Fiona’ named after Shrek and Cindy realized the connection between the cake being green and the name and she said to Paul, “Oh! Like Fiona! From Shrek!”. That was his goal so I’m not sure why he’d get so upset from her figuring it out.

When his ex-wife still worked at the business with him I remember her being a co-owner and their kids would come and hangout. I remember the cops being called three times. I pack boxes for the cops once a week to still say, “I’m sorry”. But to pay someone or to deal with confrontations are Paul’s biggest weaknesses so he just gives them what he’s good at which is baking. I remember his ex-wife purposefully not delivering wedding cakes so our business lost thousands of dollars. I remember her running to the bathroom and crying. I remember the weird couple standing in the front of the shop while Paul was facing the office and he yelled “CUNT” to his ex wife. He was swearing out every corner of that office and through her heart and soul. I was packing cookies and was speechless and in shock so I didn’t say a thing. I was new. I just remember the customers staring. Like, this really isn’t normal. He walked up to me one day after that and said , “I know you think I’m a jerk, but at least you can trust me.” Like, this was to show some kind of decency for the way he’s treated everyone. I can trust you. Can I really?

And for some reason I still work there.

A girl named Hope dropped a cake, a two tier cake right after he finished making it and he threw a magnet at her and she quit.

A girl named Sarah came in for her first day of work and had a cut on her neck and she didn’t put a bandaid on it so he fired her within the first half hour.

A girl named Lyndsi was favored for months and when he found out she was best friends with the baker, Taylor, in the back he stopped talking to Taylor and talked to her through the other bakers. Lyndsi did start to ignore him though when he had his bad days, and those were most days and eventually she quit but she was one of the best workers. And then the top baker in the back, Taylor, she quit. After five years of working by his side.

Within two weeks of them quitting we had seven workers quit. And since then we have been trying to hire new staff but the word’s gotten around of how awful the work place was/is but it’s improving. I’ve thought about leaving at least three times a week.

This is all free will right now because I am just scared to quit. I know I won’t get a raise even though I’m the best in our staff. He doesn’t believe in raises. I don’t know why I’m still here. And he knew how the men treated me on occasion but he didn’t think anything of it. And somehow he still slips in jokes like nothing has ever happened with him and the business and me. He doesn’t know where I go to school and he doesn’t know my last name and he doesn’t know that I made the playlist for his business and he doesn’t know I’ve been there for two years this January. It’s felt like eternity from the drama and verbal abuse. He has shown employee abuse but somehow I feel like I need to stay and be there for him or else the company will go under. I know it’s all he has and I know his talent. I know I will never work anywhere as difficult as this because he’s given me anxiety from any other job and maybe that’s why I won’t quit.

I saw the North star when I walked into work today. I looked out the window, and all these cars were lining up at the stoplight to go to work. It’s 5:45 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep last night. I usually fall asleep around 11 o’clock but the last four days I’ve stayed up way too late. Last night, until three a.m. The night before, until two a.m. Tonight I’m hoping to get a better night’s’ sleep.

I walked into work the morning a dictator became president and I walked into work to a raging, loud, radio station full of speeches from people that thrive for Trump and Paul was silent in the back with a smile on his face. I walked up to the front, exhausted and sad. Sleepless.

I saw this ladybug crawling across the windowsill this afternoon after I got off and I watched Her crawl patiently from one side of the wood to the other. There was a glossed over window behind Her and I could just think about Freewill and the reasons why.

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