Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Angry Catfish

Uncle Gus is in Minneapolis this week, for a whole week!  Why?  Because I got this sweet house/dog sitting gig, that's why.

Okay, I know, that is just so pathetic.  Yes, it is a house sitting gig, but to tell the truth I'd rather be working.  I like to work.  Heck, if you give me a shovel and ask me to dig a ditch, I'm happy.  Well, so long as I'm getting paid.  But I'll tell ya the truth, things are pretty slow right now, and I had the week free.  Well, I actually have the month free.  How sad is that?  So when I was asked if I could stay for a week in a house stocked with food and liquor, I decided to not turn it down.  I also get cash!  And I do have a review of Gus's Trip Up the River to here, but this one couldn't wait.

Today, after I dropped the homeowners off at the train station, I hiked over to the Angry Catfish coffee shop/bicycle shop (4208 28th Ave. S).  The coffee was fine, but the people working behind the counter were just useless hipsters.

"Hi, I'll have a 12 oz coffee for here please," I said to the guy behind the counter.  He was a young guy, trying to grow a beard.  But so far it just looked like patches of dirt on his face.  And really, that ain't a nice thing to say.  I might even be exaggerating, I'll admit it.  So what?  It was a bad experience.  Okay, forget I said anything about his beard.  My dad used to say, the first time I tried to grow a beard, "Huh.  Put some cream on that and I bet the cat could lick those whiskers off."  Pretty funny guy, my dad was.

Where was I?  Oh, the barista guy.

"What kind of coffee?" he asked.
"Whatever's darkest." 
"They're all light roasts."
What-ever!  What's the point in having a choice if they're all the same roast.  I mean, sure one might have come from Kenya, one from Ethiopia, another from your ass!  So why don't you have roast choices?  I didn't say this, though I really wanted to.  Instead I told him to "Give me the Ethiopian."
Then he took my money, I put a buck in the jar, and he wandered off.  At least that's how it looked to my untrained and uncivilized and un-hip eye.  I stood and waited, and waited while they did some stuff back there around the sink area, and I finally said, "Hey!" to this one chick who was walking around back there.  She looked at me.  "Hey, I don't want to sound ignorant or anything," I said.  And I stuck with Uncle Gusford's Rule of Politeness ("Always be polite.") "But do you have any mugs for my coffee?  Where do I get it?"
"Oh, we're brewing it back here, we brew it fresh and then we'll call you."

And that was fine, but it took her a long time for her to get the words out, as if she was hoping I'd stop her in mid-sentence so she wouldn't have to continue with the painful Sisyphean task of "speaking."  Maybe texting her reply would have been easier.  A smile would have been nice too.

But ya know what's funny?  Every coffee shop, like every tavern, has its own personality.  Some coffee shops are so warm and inviting, and the people are so nice that you want to take them home.  And it's genuine.  But others are cold.  And it's not just one person in the shop, but all of them, cut from the same cloth of cold indifference.  Here's your coffee, please leave me alone, I can't believe you didn't tip.  And really, that's how I felt about this place.

But, like I said, the coffee was good, very good, and very strong.  I like that in a coffee.

What else did I see?  Well, I was sitting at a counter in the window, and there was a lot of foot traffic in that neighborhood.  There's a bar next door to the coffee shop.  Buster's.  It's a freakin' nice place with really good food and lots of good beer choices.  There is also a row of booths that are nice and private, where you can sit and have some beers and not be seen by anyone.  I like that too.  There is nothing bad in that bar, except for too many teevees.  And it's a Saturday, so it's really busy there.  I didn't bother going, probably won't tonight.  It'll be elbow to elbow.  Anyway, there were lots of folks coming and going from there.  I saw a working-class guy and what looked like his pre-teen aged son coming out to his truck, an older Chevy half-ton pickup, in which a puppy waited.  The guy took forever to get out of his parking space, as if he couldn't judge any distances ahead of behind him.  He'd move an inch, turn the wheel, back up an inch, turn the wheel, over and over until he got out.  It was awful to watch.  I thought guys who wore Carhartt clothing knew how to drive.  And then after he left, an expensive-looking car pulled up with two women in it, younger women.  And that gal tried and failed miserably to park there.  She finally saw a triple-car space open up further down the street and drove as quickly as she could to that.  She did manage to park there, but it was still crooked.  And the whole thing is, this is the 21st century, isn't it?  I mean, the human race has been driving cars for a hundred years!  And there are people out there who still don't know how to drive!!  What's up with that?  What happened to "evolution?"  I guess you don't die from not knowing how to parallel park, so they keep reproducing.  Darwin is only relevant in the wild.

I also saw, as I walked along the residential neighborhood streets to the coffee shop, a big tree branch that had been mounted on a steep-banked yard as a landscaping ornament.  I had helped to carry it up there over a year ago when I just happened to be walking by and saw two guys trying to get this big awkward four-legged branch off of a trailer.  The one guy had seen it broken from a tree and picked it up to surprise his wife because she likes landscaping.  Anyway, it was last year that I was walking by and offered to help, and the branch is still there, so his wife must have liked it.  It looks like some sort of creature, but it's really cool.  I'm glad my work wasn't for nothing.  The more I think about it, the more I like the idea that something creative that I helped with is still there.  And perhaps that guy thinks from time to time about the stranger who came walking by one drizzling day and helped him and his friend carry a branch, and then moved on.  I know, that's hopelessly romantic (just as "hopelessly romantic" is hopelessly cliche) but there ya go.

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