Welcome back to the Hospitality Diaries. My name is Jason and the story I’m about tell is so terrible, so disturbing, so deeply unsettling that I don’t even dare think about it, let alone commit it to record for you here. But I must. I must recount what happened so that future generations might learn from my mistakes and avoid the horrors that wait for them if they get a job at…Nature’s Market.
Nature’s Market was a café-come-organic grocer in a quiet, leafy suburb of Melbourne. A middle-aged couple named Jan and Dale owned it, and it was frequented by the kind of people who eat carob and think that that’s okay. The grocery part of the business was run by Jan, and Dale ran the café, specifically the kitchen. Dale was a ‘chef’ and, at his own admission, a ‘ten bob tourist’: a Brit who had come to Australia as part of the post World War 2 assisted passage scheme. Ostensibly these ‘ten bob tourists’ were brought over to boost the economy and prove to the world that Australia was indeed the lucky country. I’m convinced Dale came to Australia for the express purpose of being a cunt. As I’ve said before, I am loath to take oaths in mixed company, but there’s no denying Dale’s terrible cuntiness. Let me explain.
I’d only been working at Natures Market for a month when my birthday rolled around, so, as a new employee, I didn’t even consider trying to get the day off. It was a remarkably arduous day that day–my birthday–and the customers were being particularly difficult to please, and by that I mean they were being cunts. Again, I’m loath to take oaths in mixed company, but fuck those greedy, needy, demanding, impatient, blood-sucking dick sores.
At 3:55 Dale poked his rat-head out of the kitchen and said, ‘Jason, I’m going to need you to work a double. Andrew has called in sick.’ I hid my disappointment with a meek smile and said, Sure. Inside I was crying; it was, after all, my birthday.
So I worked a 16-hour day on my birthday, and at 10 PM when all the customers had cleared out I began closing up the shop: sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, chairs on tables, et cetera. While I toiled, Dale chatted in the kitchen with the pastry chef, a rotund, frizzy-haired mole I’ll call ‘Pia.’ I should mention that all the names and places names have been changed to protect me from legal action. ‘Dale’ is the kind of shit-heel that would try to sue you for pointing out what a bastard he is, even though his life has been nothing but one long, rigorous campaign to advertise that fact anyway.
So Pia and Dale were in the kitchen chatting and flirting (that’s the other thing about Dale, his wife was absolutely lovely but he didn’t miss an opportunity to flirt with anything that might lactate), and then, still giggling at one of Dale’s outrageously predictable and utterly witless thigh-slappers, Pia went to the refrigerator and retrieved two cans of soda–one for her and one for Dale…
This part of the story is so hard to tell on account of how pathetic and petty it is; it’s my own personal Oliver Twist moment. Here goes. Thinking I’d like something to drink too, I went to the fridge, opened the door, and, as a matter of courtesy to my boss, asked, ‘Mind if I grab one those?’ Keep in mind it was my birthday and I was helping out by working a double shift. Dale knew all this and guess what he did? He said, No. ‘Jason?’ he said, ‘No. Put that back.’ I paused, can in hand, fridge door open, head tilted like a confused dog. Did he really just tell me I couldn’t also enjoy a cold drink after working a double shift ON MY BIRTHDAY? Yes, folks, Dale, the revolting, arrogant, abhorrent, worthless living embodiment off cancer said, No. I carefully placed the can of soda back in its place, went bright red with shame and finished closing up.
In the car park, crouched in the moonlight behind Dale’s car, I could hear my heart beating in my ears. The cinderblock was heavy and reassuring in my hands, and fog plumed from my nostrils. Pia came out first and I threw a small pebble at her. She rubbed her pumpkin-sized head where the pebble had hit and looked around the deserted car park. Then she got in her car and drove way. Next came Dale. He locked up the back door of the café and strode across the car park whistling ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’ Oh, you won’t be worried, I thought. You won’t be worried or happy; you won’t be anything soon. I stood and raised the cinderblock above my head and called out, ‘Daaaale, oh Daaaale, I have present for you!’ Dale turned and his eyes widened as the shadow of the block came down on his big, fat, idiotic, pompous, self-important, rude, mean-spirited, weak-chinned, over-bitten, halitosis-harboring, dandruff–harvesting good-for-fucking-nothing head.