Owning a coffee shop, I really do see all different kinds of people. Eccentric, blase, rude, hyper, nice, needy… all sorts. If you ever want some interesting people watching, hit your local coffee shop. Not a Starbucks, but the neighborhood place with real ties to the community. It’s a whole different sort of world.
We had some crazy customer incidents this week. I got screamed at by a man in his bedroom slippers, who then asked me for a job application ( I didn’t have any. I would have given him one just to see what he put down for giggles) then he screamed me some more when I couldn’t produce one. I happened to be by myself since Dill was catering, and the incident left me sort of freaked out.
One of our regular, ah, “eccentric” customers, who some days asks herself a question in one voice, then answers herself in another voice, has been coming in here for five years. Good days, and bad days. The bad days could be really, really bad. She would scream, screech, bang her cup, it would get awful sometimes. The good days, she was still strange, but didn’t really bother anyone.
One time, as she was leaving she stood up, poured her cup of coffee into her purse, and went out the door. Just to give you an idea of what we’re working with here!
The past few weeks, there have been… issues. Issues that involved me having to do massive clean ups in the restroom. For some reason, she did not want to poo in the toilet. Instead it was the sink, the trash can, the floor, the mop sink, it was awful. The 5th time it happened I broke down in tears. I was exhausted and frustrated. Dill took action, and the next day told her that she just could not come in here anymore. I felt awful about it, he felt awful about it, but it was just too much for us.
She has live in help, and one of them came in to talk to me yesterday. It turned into me lecturing them about the fact that for FIVE YEARS, they have not once come in, told us what her situation was, what we could do when she was having a breakdown, etc. Not to mention the fact that she would walk straight out into busy traffic to get to us, without even glancing at oncoming cars. Once someone almost hit her, and followed her to the shop to see who she was with, since they were terrified that they almost killed her with their truck. She would walk here in freezing rain and blizzards without ever wearing proper coats or gloves. I told this woman all of that, and for a few minutes, she tried to stand strong and make me feel bad for kicking her out of my coffee shop, but by the end she had backed down, and apologized to me for everything that has gone on here. I talked to one of the neighbors of this woman (we ARE a community place) and she informed me that during the time she came here, it was the “break time” for the nurses. They would say how relieved they were to get her out of their hair for a few hours.
I really do feel awful about it. I hated saying that she wasn’t welcome here anymore, but I just reached my breaking point. I did end up saying that she could come in if, and only if, one of the nurses was with her, and that if things went south they would have to leave. I was told by Dill that I’m too nice.
Believe it or not, she’s pretty tame as far as our crazy customer stories go. There was the guy in the hoodie that tried to attack one of our workers, claiming he (the guy in the hoodie) was in the Russian Mafia and in Indiana to kill a child molester. He had also followed a group of 4 teenage girls into the shop, produced the license of one of the girls neighbors, and told the girl he was sent to kill her neighbor. We called the cops both times.
There was the half blind guy that just REEKED of crack pipe. Some days he had 20 hundred dollar bills in his pocket, other days he was trying to panhandle outside. He was pretty harmless, just smelly.
There was Karate Kid that worked next door at the pizza place. He made me sad. He was really messed up, and would come in and show us his “ninja moves” or ask to clean our windowsills. He was off, but harmless. He had a seizure and died about a year after we first opened.
2 Liter guy started off as just a typical group home level crazy. He was okay. Sometimes he would buy a coffee, and hang a notice on the bulletin board asking if he could please mow someones lawn for free, to give him something to do. He’s deteriorated since then. Last time he was around he ran into the market next door and took off with SEVEN(!) 2 Liters in his hands and booked it across the street to home. He’s not too bad. He’ll just try to come behind the counter, or he’ll take any and every business card or menu he can grab. The market knows his mom, so they’ll call her to come get him whenever he comes around.
Diarrhea guy doesn’t come in anymore, but his caseworker used to bring him here. He had a head injury and is “stuck” in 1995. We called him Diarrhea guy because he always sang the Beavis and Butthead song “Diarrhea.. cha cha cha”! by way of greeting. He always wanted to give the girls peppermints and would ask us if we were mad at him. (we never were)
Some day I need to write down all the weird crap that happens here. But there is a taste of it at least. And before anyone accuses me of being mean and giving horrid nicknames to people with special needs… EVERYONE gets a nickname here. I see so many people that I hardly ever know anyone’s name. So we have our regulars, comic book guy, bookstore guy, the twins, mohawk chic… everyone knows there nicknames, no one cares. In fact, I’ve been known to bump into someone at a store and say, “Hi small double raw sugar skinny latte, hows your husband Awesome Tron Shirt”?