Soap Box Oratorio

Soap Box Oratorio

cleanliness is next to entitlement

body wash is essence of elitism

you are all trapped in a commercial web

that tells us 

only pleasant smelling people

have value that deserves respect


don’t believe me

see how fast you get served

at any coffee shop

if you aren’t deemed clean enough

by some snooty barista

who barely makes enough to pay

for their hair colour 

they take one sniff

and are ready to call the cops


someone said 

there’s no deodorant like money

but let me tell you

that ain’t true

no matter how rich you are

if you aren’t clean enough

you’re not respected


just a whiff of unwashed armpit

a strand of greasy hair

can be enough to make people

turn away from you

move to another seat on the subway

they cling to their need

for fresh smells

antiseptic is purity


perfumed is worshipped

the unwashed makes them uncomfortable

in their sanctimonious shelters

where they don’t have to smell anything

that hasn’t be sold to them

that hasn’t been given 

the cultural seal of clean


it’s all marketing

you are all sheep

taken to the slaughter 

sprayed with rose water

so you don’t have to smell

your own shit 

as your throat is cut

to make them a healthy profit

When I was in high-school two men’s aftershave were very popular: Jade East, Hai Karate – so inescapable just looking at photos of vintage bottles brings back the scent. I was more a fan of Jade East. Both are still being made! They were my introduction to the notion that one had to be more than freshly showered to be clean smelling.

Just go into any cosmetics sections of a store & you can see elitism in action. Does it cost more to make Chanel Blue than it does to make Old Spice? Is the product packaging for one more expensive to manufacture? Part of Old Spice’s former popularity was due to how easy & affordable it was to buy. Indie drugs stores would have a cologne/perfume section & kids could afford Old Spice for Father’s Day etc. The stores didn’t have to invest as much into stocking it. I know I bought it for my Dad quite often, but I’m not even sure, now, if he liked it 🙂

This piece sprung from a news item about someone being denied service in a coffee shop because they ‘stank.’ They had the money, knew what they wanted but staff shooed them away. The person refused to leave & the police were called to remove them. The coffee shop was later taken to court for human rights violations, or something like that. The corporate head office issued an official apology.

About that time I also came across a statement that coffeeshops were just another demonstration of entitlement – which at first I thought was funny but I realized there is some truth to that. There is a hierarchy with semi-indies like Balzac’s, then chains Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, Country Style, Dunkin Donuts. Logically those two thoughts – the smell of culture, the coffee of choice – interwove to produce that first line, which easily led to the second.

Excuse me – time for my shower.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee – sweet,eh? 


I miss the smell of the restaurant – of food cooking, of someone serving the meal & taking away my dirty dishes, of being able to ask for suggestions. Taking your chicken souvlaki out of a paper bag and finding out it is pork isn’t the same as seeing it on the plate & sending it back right away. I miss plating – the art of someone else arranging food on your plate.

I missing being able to give your order at a coffee shop without having to shout through your mask & over-enunciate words like ‘sweet & low’ & having to repeat yourself as they still don’t hear clearly over the music. I miss paying for things with cash. What do people without plastic do?

I miss wearing shirts to public events, because there are no public events to wear them to. I have a wardrobe based on public appearances, even if the appearance is meeting someone for lunch or doing a feature in front an eager audience of poetry fans. The face mask has replaced the shirt, the t-shirt for now.

Shopping has changed here in Ontario. Not that I spent a lot of time in stores but I miss the sense of destination, of discovery as I browsed the aisles looking. When I do shop I am focused on what I want but there are times when going through the tables of remaindered books at Book City, or even Indigo, results is amazing discoveries. 

Not that I mind online shopping for most things & I sure do love packages showing up at my door but I miss the hunt. No more impulse shopping. No more checking every aisle in the grocery store for specials, now it’s all about following the right arrows to maintain social distance. 

I missing not knowing what day of the week it is because I’m no longer doing what I used to do every Wednesday that took me out of the house. My cell phone now tells me what day of the week it is. I think this is Monday.

Old Feet New Shoes

it’s never a fresh start

there is no clean page

no expanse of innocent white

to start in on

there is always a past 

something to remember to avoid 

lessons learned

something to escape from

to forget

to write over scribble out 


new shoes always go on old feet

we stand on what we are familiar with 

bring the same skill set 

to each fresh opportunity

to do the same thing in a different place

yet how different is the place 

a chair is always a chair

lights are always lights


different shades fabrics 

but new jeans are still jeans

same hair changed style

anxious for the new

as if the old 

was worthless inferior


why should things last at all

the longer cars last 

the fewer cars get sold

the fewer cars get sold

the economy grinds to a halt

people are out of work

it’s all your fault

you fucking pedestrians

we’ll make narrower sidewalks 

to discourage all that walking


nothing new in this same old rant 

about the same pointless crap

words won’t fuel the economy

who reads 

who listens 

who cares

nobody wants a fresh start

just new shoes

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh?

East End Toronto Ghosts

More closed business, some thanks to covid, others thanks to rental increases

East Indian at Danforth/Pape corner that was just getting settled in when covid hit
nice tile work wasn’t enough to keep them going
a couple of these opened near odd subway stations i.e. Donlands – no school kids = no business, besides the Danforth has enough coffee spots
Coxwell at Dundas E – not so convenient after all
chains under the window were for strollers not tots
now an inactivity studio
Danforth has enough coffee spots with no room for this one – soon to be a fried chicken joint –
I ate here frequently – massive rent increase closed its doors after what seemed like 100 years of being a Queen E dining destination spot
Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh?

Picture Perfect 9

Hamid was driving off when Sandy came out of the shop. “Where the … have you been? I’ve been calling you all morning.”

“Sorry.” They walked back into the shop. “My sister abducted me from my house in the middle of breakfast to take me to FairVista. I barely got a word in edgewise with her let alone have a chance to make any calls. Besides Linda’s aura blocked all messages.”

“That sort of explains some things. I almost called Sanjay to ask if he knew what was up.”

“It’s not as if you and Ushio can’t handle things here.”

“That’s not the point. We didn’t know where you are and when to expect you back. Telling people we have no idea where the boss is isn’t professional.”

“People? Such as who?”

“That TV guy has called twice. Jill is in a state too. Even Cliff dropped in to see where you were.”

“Any problems with the plumbing? Or is the a.c. acting up? The last I had the two of them on to me at the same time was when the a.c. broke down. As if I was a repair man. Is that all?”

“Nope.” Ushio said with a lopsided grin. “Kevin McLeod called. He’s looking for a wedding photographer.”

“The rocker star? Fuck!” Dan had helped out with green screen work in a couple of Kevin’s videos. One had won several awards.

“Says he’ll be by sometime this afternoon to talk about it. Hard to turn down a gig like that.”

It had been several years since Dan had tackled a wedding. He’d been happy to leave all that to his sister or one of the other staff. Too much pressure from all side with people who want you to be creative but want to control everything at the same time. Digital cameras had pretty much dried up that market and he didn’t regret that for a minute.

“I’ll go over to the Classic first to see what’s going on there.”


“Yes Sandy?” he said as he went to the door.

“Turn on your phone.”

“Oh right. Is my head screwed on?” he asked.

“Yes, but your lens cap is clearly loose.” Ushio laughed.

The Classic was busy. All the tables were taken and there was a line up at the counter. He caught Jill’s eye. She nodded and finished waiting on her customer.

He sat at her table in the back of the cafe. Peter darted over with a coffee and bagel for him.

“Rushed today?” Dan said.

“Like this most mornings. That new Institute of Higher Learning, or whatever, has a mid-morning break and they dash over here.”

Jill sat at the table. “You could have at least given me a warning.”

“About the Institute?” he could tell she was angry.

“If you aren’t happy with us you could have told me directly.”

“But I am happy.”

“Look Daniel, the Cuppa people were here this morning.” She shoved some papers at him. “They were authorized to take measurements. I have a legal right to know well in advance if you letting someone on my premises.”

“Authorized!” He glanced at the form and his sister’s signature was on it. The form was an application for franchise if the locations were suitable.

“So that’s why she whisked me away.” he said.

“You mean you knew nothing about Cuppa?”

“Not until this morning. Linda thinks it’ll be a good thing for the FairVista store. It’s not going to happen here. Not as long as we own the property.”

“Yeah, well, they seemed pretty convinced. They also went to Silver to look his premises over for possible conversion for their purposes. A building with two corners. Perfect for them. As one of their agents said.”

“Send them to me if they show up again.” He read the document and it was merely an inquiry about entering into a working arrangement. “This says nothing about allowing more than a look at the location. They could have come in and said nothing to anyone.”

“Who has time for fine print?” Jill frowned. “They were quite impressed with the crowd we had though. Maybe it is time we discussed the new lease?”

“I’ll get legal on it.” He laughed. “And this too.”

There was no way he’d let Linda interfere with his management of the Queen St. property. No way.

Dan went over to the Gallery. Cliff was talking loudly on the phone.

“I have to go.” he said hanging up.

“A land line, Cliff!”

“I have a private life. Or at least try to have one. Some artists don’t think twice about calling you twice a day to have their ego or their prices boosted. No one gets me at lunch time.”

“I’ve heard about the Cuppa people from Jill. There is nothing to it. Really. Some hair-brained idea of Linda’s.”

“Daniel, your sister has never had a hair-brained idea. She’s one of the most practical people I know, when it comes to squeezing money out of an opportunity.”

“You aren’t going anywhere.”

“I know that. They took one look at the prices on these,” he gestured at the art on the walls, “and literally blanched. They were engineers anyway. Not appraisers. No sense of art, if you know what I mean.”

Dan laughed. “This from the man who sells art based on size and colour.”

“Please! I have to take everything into to consideration. I’m not losing a commission because someone couldn’t tell the difference been avocado and dark-mint green.”

“All the same. If those guys, or anyone else from Cuppa, shows up again, send them to me.”

“Only if they aren’t buying what’s on the wall.”


“Fires put out for now.” He told Ushio. “I’m going to have to speak Linda though.”

Inspector Warszawa came into the shop with another officer.

“Dan, Inspector Clarke wants a word with you. With us, I mean.”

“Pleased to meet you.” He shook Daniel’s hand.

“We’ll go up to my office. Coffee?”

“No, we’re fine.”

Inspector Clarke was a shorter and thicker than Warszawa. Dan guessed he’d be about 5’6, Ushio’s height. His hair was cut even more severe than Warszawa’s. Both wore the official dark suit, off-white shirts, with colour-flecked ties, and black shoes that sounded like they had granite soles as they walked up the wooden stairs to his office. 

He sat at his desk.

“I’ll get right to the point. I’ve read your comments on the travel photographs.” Clarke said.

“I tried to be as precise as I could.”

“We appreciate that.” Warszawa said. “But …”

“You intimated that these were brought to the crime scene?” Clarke said.

“I had asked Warszawa if there were any similar travel pictures found there. Something to connect them to the victim.”

“That was very astute of you, Mr. James. No one had considered such a possibility. It set me to thinking of why someone would do that. As a result we did a data base search.” Clarke said. “Of crime scene evidence. We discovered that this isn’t the first time this has happened.”

“What do you make of that?” Warszawa asked.

“I … uh … don’t know.” Dan thought for a moment. “Did this victim even have a camera?”

The two inspectors looked at each other.

“I don’t know.” Warszawa said. “This opens a whole new line of investigation. We’d assumed the pictures pertained to the victim. That they were hers. Clearly because of the aged look of them, something from her past. But you said …”

“That they weren’t originals. Good reproductions mind you.”

“Where they taken by the same sort of camera?” Clarke asked.

“No. That’s in my report. Even the slightly disintegrated images made that clear to me. Some were with simple one-shot cameras, others from a 35 mil. If I had the originals I could even venture a guess as to the make and maybe even the model.”

“That’s impressive.” Clarke said.

“Thanks. You say you’ve found others?”

“I had them send jpegs of them to us. Printed them out for you.” Warszawa put them on Dan’s desk.

“Holy fuck!” Dan glanced at them.

“What! You see something in them that fast.”

“This one …” He got his prints from his side file drawer and placed one of those beside the ones he was just shown. “Fits in with that one.”

The tree line and shore line of the lake in the picture of the family picnicking almost lined up perfectly.

“There is a connection.” Clarke said. “I’ll be damed.”

“Connection?” Dan asked.

“We found that lake shore picture in another victim’s wallet. No one at the time could make any sense of it. It never occurred to us that it might have been put there by the killer.”

“How many of these do you have?” Dan asked.

“I’m afraid we’re not at liberty to tell you that, yet. But we do have more than a couple of cases to re-examine in the light of what you’ve told us.” Clarke shook Dan’s hand again. “Thank you. You’ve been more help that you realize. You should still be on the force.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Dan walked down the stairs with them. “But I don’t think I could stand the official foot wear.”

They walked to their car.

Warszawa stepped back to speak to him. “Dan make sure to bill us for this consultation. That was impressive.” He shook Dan’s hand. “There’s more to you than just another handsome face.” He held Dan’s gaze. “We’ll be in touch.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicenseHey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 


Picture Perfect 7

It was after six pm when Dan stored his bike in the side garage. The Mazda was gone so he knew that Sanjay wasn’t home. He couldn’t recall if Sanjay had said he was working that night or not. After the unusually busy day he’d had Dan was okay with a quiet night on his own at home.

One side door in the garage led directly to a short flight of stairs into kitchen, the other side door opened onto the backyard patio. 

“I’m home!” Dan called out as he put his shoulder bag on the kitchen table.

There was no answer. The TV was on in the living-room. He turned it off. A timer would have turned it off at 7:30 and then again at 8:30 if there was no one home. There was a message by the remote.

“Forgot I had a night shift at Pa’Pappa’s. I’ll be home at the usual time. Sanj.”

Pa’Pappa’s was one of the restaurants Sanjay worked for. The other was Zephyr. Both owned by Sylvan Papoulias. Zephyr was the fine dining establishment that regularly made the Michelin’s list of top North American dining experiences. 

Pa’Pappa’s was at the family-oriented end of the spectrum. The difference, according to Sanjay, was in price and paper quality for the menus. Desserts for the family spot would be served at the the other but instead of grated dark chocolate they’d have shaved white chocolate. Both paid him the same but at Zephyr’s he got his name on the dessert menu there.

Dan went to the fridge and took out the remains of the pizza they had ordered on the weekend. A squirt of hot sauce and thirty seconds in the microwave and it was ready to eat.

He took it out to the back patio and ate while watching the sun setting. The various solar lights began to glow as it got darker. 

This was a good life. 

He was washing the plate he had used for the pizza when his cell rang.

“Good news Dan.” It was Cyrtys. “I just spoke to the big wigs and they are truly excited by your proposal.”

“My proposal?”

“Why yes, to do a special on this missing children from an almost-abductee’s point of view. You’ll have to tell them how you evaded his grasp and all that. It’ll be so dramatic.”

“I was not almost abducted.” Or was I? Maybe that’s what my mother was holding back. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember that week. What do they call it – post traumatic shock? 

“I don’t mean literally. Can we take a meeting tomorrow. We have so much to discuss. So much.”

“I’ll have to check my schedule. I do have a business to run.”

“But Daniel this is your business, isn’t it. Seeing what others don’t see in a simple set of photographs.”

Dan woke in the morning with the naked Sanjay spooning him. He reluctantly disengaged himself careful so as not to wake his lover. Sanjay smelled of vanilla and chocolate. Dan sat at the edge of the bed. Did he want to start something this early in the day? If he didn’t there might not be another opportunity. 

He scratched his balls, head and then stretched his arms to work out the sleep kinks. Bladder pressure pulled him off the bed and to the toilet. As he was relieving himself he heard music in the bedroom. That meant Sanjay was awake and had turned on his mp3 player. 

The music was a gentle sitar with tabula and distant vocalizing. Soothing for morning. 

Dan rinsed his mouth with water and went back to the bedroom. Sanjay was on the floor doing yoga. Dan sat on the floor and began copying what Sanjay was doing. He knew the routine of movements and closed this eyes to flow more consciously into his subconscious. As the exercises moved to a finish the music built up in speed and complexity. Then there was silence.

He opened his eyes and leaned back on his elbows watching Sanjay’s hair stomach as his breathing became more regular. Dan was never able to slow his down as well or as much as Sanjay did.

Over breakfast he was telling Sanjay about the ‘offer’, as he called with with air quotation marks, from Quintex, when his phone rang. He unplugged it from the charger to answer.

“Linda.” Call display told him who was calling.

“Daniel we have to talk.”

“You mean you talk and I listen.” He replied holding the receiver away from his ear.

“I’m not in the mood for your wise cracks this early in the day.” Her voice seemed to echo off the kitchen ceiling. “I’ll expect you at the FairVista store by ten.”

He brought the phone to talking distance. “Not unless I teleport. I’ll be there when I get there. Eleven at the earliest.”

“Get your houseboy to drop you off.”

Dan rolled his eyes to Sanjay’s frown. “She’ll never forgive you, will she.”

“I can hear you.” His sister said.

“Well, Sanjay can hear you, too. Trying using your inside voice. Oh I forgot, you don’t have one.”

Linda had never learned to modulate, as his mother called not shouting. Even quiet conversations ramped up to her shouting. He often wondered if she has some sort of hearing problem but the one time he had suggested she get her hearing checked she went even more ballistic than usual.

“I’ll be expecting you.”

The line went dead.

“Fuck, you’d think she’d learn to say hello and goodbye.” Dan shook his head.

“Family is like that. I don’t think my mother ever asked me how I was doing before she launched into how my sisters were doing.”

“I’d better get going if I expect to be at the big shop by eleven.” Even if he caught the right transit connections travel time was nearly forty minutes. A trip he would make no more than twice a week. Despite her brusqueness his sister did run the business well. She enjoyed the interaction with customers much more than he did.

“Not going to bike out there?” Sanjay asked.

“No thanks. The war on cyclists is as bad the city’s supposed war on cars.”

The door bell rang.

“Who could it be at this time of the morning?” Sanjay asked as he went to answer it.

“Is my brother decent?”

“Good morning to you too, Linda.” Sanjay said as she brushed past him.

“I was outside already Daniel. I knew you’d dawdle.”

She took a mug out of the sink, rinsed it and poured herself a cup of coffee. 

“I don’t suppose you don’t have real cream in here do you?” She pulled the fridge open. “I guess this’ll do. Not two percent I hope.” She took two swallows. “Not half-bad. You ready yet. I don’t have all day.”

Daniel put his loafers on, checked his shoulder bag to make sure he had the photos he’d printed off the TV of all the missing children. As expected the quality wasn’t great but would do for now. He followed her out to the car.

“New?” He ran his hand along the hood.

“Don’t give me that look.” she opened her door. “Yearly lease means I can upgrade the Lexus every year. Why own anyway? You should try it. Tax deductible.”

He got in. “Bike styles don’t change that rapidly.”

“Tell me about it.”

She turned at the end of the street and headed to the Expressway.

“What is going on Linda?”

“Those pricks at FairVista say we aren’t making a large enough profit for them. Look, you know we are breaking even at least. It takes a few years for a business to really get established. I’ve explained all that to them. Even their accountants say we have a sound business plan but to them sound means bigger profits.”

“Uh huh. Tell me something you haven’t told me before. I warned you that the profit clause might bite us in the ass one day.”

“Who expected it to bite us so soon. That’s what I’m saying. But I have an opportunity that may increase profits for a minimal outlay.”

“Linda we’ve spent enough getting the new shop set up. I’ve already split off the best selling stuff to you. Or is this another attempting to pressure me into setting up shop with you?”

“No, nothing like that little brother. The people from Cuppa’s has approached me.”

“What? You want to start a coffee shop somewhere?”

“In the store. It’ll be like Starbucks and Indigo. Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“How much of an outlay?”

“For the two locations a couple of hundred grand.” she said quickly.

“Two locations?”

“FairVista and Queen.”

“What about the Classic?”

“That lease is coming up soon. Daddy always said follow the money. Cuppa’s is the money.”

“Classic is doing fine. Better than ever in fact with the new condo complex.”

“Why do you always fight me Daniel?”

“I didn’t fight you on the new shop did I?”

“I’d call refusing  to move all the business to it, putting up a fight.”

“If I remember correctly you thought having too locations would reflect what a success the business was. The big expansion. Right? Once FairVista was established then there’d be franchise opportunities to sell.”

“Daddy said you have to dream big to get big. Besides Peggy thinks it’s a great idea. She’s already signed the agreement.”

She pulled into the mall lot and parked behind the shop.

“Mom would sign anything you asked.” Dan wanted to get angry but he admired the way his sister often went ahead and did the ground work. “But …”

“I know you have the final say. If Daddy knew …” she trailed off. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicenseHey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 


The Coffee Queen

The Coffee Queen

I walked out

yeah I know I’m nobody to them

not selling me a cup of coffee

isn’t going to affect

their salary

their bottom line

five bucks less in the register

it’s not as if

it’s the only coffee shop on the street

I’m even willing to wait in line

as long as the line is moving

but if there are three sales associates

behind the counter

& I’m the only customer

waiting to be served

one of you should at least acknowledge me

not roll your eyes at each other

or chat

backs turned

or see me

then go to do something else


I walked out without a word


I do this often

being the invisible man

has its drawbacks

I’m a nobody

no influence

merely a person who expects service

someone who has experienced

can I help you sir

oh yes let me show you where that is

is there anything else

in an ordinary drug store chain


sorry to keep you waiting

this one’s on the house


now I don’t want those servers

to lose their jobs

or even apologize

for being understaffed

or having to work to a clock

I walk out

wondering if there’s

a camera monitoring

that some manager will see

them so busy

see me walking out

and they’ll watch it together

shake their heads

saying some people have no patience


who does he think he is

the Queen of England

This take on Law 34 is more a reflection on my impatience than on my regal demeanour. On my morning walks I usually stop after about 30 minutes for a sugary snack & some days for a coffee or a hot chocolate. I have an array of different coffee shops that I’ll stop at. If I like one I’ll hit it regularly. SA good one is enough – usually depending on what cupcakes or scones they offer &, of course, the service.

I am more patient with the indie spots but if the line up is too long I may not even go in – I don’t want a cookie that bad that I’ll wait more then five minutes for service. As the piece says there are lots of coffee shops, at least in Toronto there are. I have left Tim Ho’s, Starbucks, even McD’s if the service is slow. Why people wait until they are asked to pay before looking for their money puzzles me – you know that money is going to be at the bottom of shoulder bag that takes ages to find. I don’t blame the server for that but I’m not waiting either while someone checks on their cell phone exactly what their co-workers want or finds a card that works.

But when, as all too often in the case, there are four servers on duty, one customer ahead of me & once they’ve done with that one they wander off as if I wasn’t there – I’m gone. Or they banter too much & don’t hear my order or the cafe music is so sound they ask twice what I want – I’m gone. Or there are seven people ahead of me & only one server on active duty while two other servers are gabbing with each other. I’m out of there.

I know my five bucks isn’t that vital to them anyway and there is always another cookie nearby. Just don’t keep me waiting too long for it.


Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh?

Coffee Queen

Another of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green as a writing prompt.


Law 34: Be Royal in Your Own Fashion – Act Like a King.

I walked out

yeah I know I’m nobody to them

not selling me a cup of coffee

isn’t going to affect

their salary

their bottom line

five bucks less in the register

it’s not as if

it’s the only coffee shop on the street

I’m even willing to wait in line

as long as the line is moving

but if there are three sales associates

behind the counter

& I’m the only customer

waiting to be served

one of you should at least acknowledge me

not roll your eyes at each other

or chat

backs turned

or see me then go to do something else

I walked out

without a word


I do this often

being the invisible man

has its drawbacks

I’m a nobody

no influence

merely a person who expects service

someone who has experienced

can I help you sir

oh yes let me show you where that is

is there anything else

in an ordinary drug store chain


sorry to keep you waiting

this one’s on the house

now I don’t want those servers

to lose their jobs

or even apologize

for being understaffed

or having to work to a clock

I walk out

wondering if there’s

a camera monitoring

that some manager will see

them so busy

see me walking out

and they’ll watch it together

shake their heads

some people have no patience


who does he think he is

the Queen of England


Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Compulsive Liar

I was going to title this blog post: Slow Service = I Walk Out but realized that ‘Compulsive Liar’ was a much sexier title. More about that compulsion later but first why I walk out of coffee shops.

As I get older my levels of patience have changed for certain things. I can deal patiently with line-ups at banks, FanExpo – I come prepared with my iPod & something to read on my Kindle. If I’m lucky there is enough eye-candy, or questionable footwear, to amuse me as well.

fence fence me in

But there certain places I won’t wait more than, say, 90 seconds when I get to the counter for service. I don’t mind a line up at Tim Ho’s or Starbucks but if I’ve waited long enough to get to the front of line & there’s no counter service promptly enough I’m out of there.

I know my few bucks doesn’t mean much to their bottom line, I don’t even think my time is all that valuable but customer service is – especially when the joint in question is supposedly fast food.

shade shade in the shade

In one local cafe (down on Gerrard) there was food prep behind the counter but she wasn’t authorized to take orders or even knew where the service person was. She went to check but I didn’t hang around while she looked. If you want loyal customers offer more than good coffee.

In fact there’s a Starbucks on the Danforth (at Jones) I won’t go into again because of crappy counter service – once, when I did get service, I ordered a breakfast sandwich, waited & waited till they realized they had forgotten my order – an apology was all I got, plus the sandwich. Two other times there’s been at least four behind the counter busy at something, no customers, and no service after my 90 second rule & I was out of there. After a third time of the same I decided never again.

spoon the dish ran over the spoon

Call me cranky but if you are going wait on the person behind me because you think your co-server has waited on me I’m walking. I used to get pissed but my attitude now is more of indifference. You don’t want my dollars why should I care? I now see it as a sign of how much I want something as opposed to needing it – not that anyone really needs coffee & a bagel but … if my want isn’t fulfilled I think a bit more and it’s gone – the universe has worked through bad service to spare me yet another unnecessary self-indulgence and saved me a couple of bucks at the same time.

Besides, in TO, there’s a coffee shop on every corner, so the walk to good service isn’t that far.


Compulsive Liar

I am a compulsive liar

I don’t think twice about it


compulsive and automatic

the brunt of my dishonesty

is always felt by telephone solicitors

I don’t think twice about telling them

they have the wrong number

if I hear that boiler room chatter

in the background

I wonder if they can hear me

the lie comes from my lips

with such ease

before I hang up

I used to try to annoy them back

ask them to repeat themselves

because of their accents

say I can’t hear you clearly

also lies

because I didn’t care

what they were saying or selling

I merely hoped the call

was being recorded

for quality purposes

that someone would hear my gripe about

accents or volume

and heads would roll

now I say wrong number

I keep my voice polite

maybe with a note of apology in it

and hang up as fast as I can

before they can respond in anyway

the less I engage

the less I lie

and that’s the truth

dish spoon’s revenge