I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GingerBears be Gone

A couple of months ago a new cafe opened up a few doors down from my shop. There are no cafes on this side of the local shopping strip, so all of us were really excited to see something new 'come to town.' Frankly, there is only so much Subway and Indian food one can take, so I think we were all hoping for something really yummy to add to our lunchtime repertoire.

I popped my head into the new cafe a couple of days before they opened, just to be neighbourly, and do some local snooping. The owner was a big, burly guy - who among other things was WAY too overbearing, spoke so loud I felt like asking if he thought I was deaf, and basically was one of those people who I find irritating on sight. No matter, I don't need to marry him, right? He asked if we can produce products for the cafe, and while it's not something we normally do, it's seemed like a good opportunity. He gets great product, we get a way to show the locals what we do, without them needing to buy an entire cake.

On their opening day, I took some themed (themed to the name of the cafe) cupcakes and a variety of cookies over there, as a welcome gesture but also as a way of hopefully convincing them to place a regular order with us.

Ever after, every single time Overbearing Cafe Owner saw me in the area, he'd shout at me. "I'm gonna come in and order, emzee, I really AM!" he would boom at me. "I'm coming in RIGHT NOW to order up big, emzee!" "I'll be 'round any minute now, emzee!" and so on - but of course he never showed. Frankly, it got embarrassing and intensely irritating enough that I'd actually cross the street if I saw him coming and I started to fervently pray that he would not make good on his promise to drop in.

A few weeks back he did in fact come in to the shop to order some gingerbread cookies (in bear shapes, hence the title of the blog.) He was totally unable to tell me how many he wanted, how much he had budgeted for the creation of these, how often he might order, how many the cafe might use in a day or week, what decoration he wanted, if the biscuits he currently offers sell well, or what storage space he had available to keep stock on hand.

I'm not saying I'm an expert at running a cafe - but surely after several months in business, you know if you are selling biscuits in the first place, right? You should know that you're selling on average 10 a day, versus, say 100. Enough to be able to make an estimate as to how many you should order, surely? He literally had NO idea. None. "Um, I don't know, just give me lots." Couldn't even tell me what he wanted to spend on these, "Oh, you know that better than I would, emzee!" He got very tired of my questions (which, hey, I'm thinking are kinda important if you're trying to set up a supply chain, but what do I know about being in a food business? ;) ). He got SO tired in fact that, mid-question, he stood up and shouted, "Look, you know what you're doing here. I've got an appointment for a massage. Just go and fill up the jars. Bye!" and literally ran out my door.

So that's how I found myself wandering down the road to grab empty (dirty!) biscuit jars, so that *I* could work out how many, how often, what size, what decoration was needed. Because, you know, I know all about running this man's cafe.

I ended up making a stack of gingerbreads (enough to fill the jars plus a few for top-ups) and charged an entirely appropriate price considering his total lack of information plus his making me go rescue the damn jars.

I got a phone call from Overbearing (and now Irate) Cafe Owner about ten minutes after we delivered them. "Listen emzee, we have a problem."

Yes. The problem would be that you have NO CLUE how to operate a money making cafe. Or ANY cafe at all really - but carry on. Problem?

"The problem," it seems, is that I charged him too much. Note, I ASKED what he wanted to pay and he left it up to me. We provided him with an ocean load of cookies to sell, and the grand total of his invoice was $100. "Emzee!" yells the soon-to-be-bankrupt cafe owner, "That's a RIDICULOUS amount of money to pay for some biscuits!" and then he shouted at me all the reasons why my prices were insane:

  • $100 at $20 an hour means it took me 5 hours to make those biscuits and it most certainly did NOT take me five hours so HOW can I justify that? (the logic on this is so fucked, I won't even begin to explain it.)
  • He currently charges $4 for a Texas-sized savoury muffin with cheese and nuts in it, how on earth can he charge $4 for a biscuit as well? (because you're losing money on that muffin, moron. Try learning how to cost out muffins before you worry about my biscuits.)
  • He didn't want to pay more than $1 per biscuit, and even that is ridiculous but he thought he would be nice and generous by paying that (and that would be why I asked you what price you could pay...because had you said $1, I'd have laughed in your face.)
  • He really wants to support me and help me out by giving me his order and he thought HE was doing ME a favour (remind me again why my well established business needs a moron like you to do it a favour...)
  • ...and so on. He carried on for quite a while. I'll spare you. I eventually hung up. 
Word among the local traders is that he never charges the same thing twice, there does not appear to be an actual menu of sorts which they adhere to, he gives stuff away fairly often - because all of those are great ways to run a business, yes? There are quite a few fairly miserable online reviews of this cafe, most of which talk about how overbearing and annoying this man is (I checked. Of course I did.) 

For my part, I'm bloody grateful that I never need to supply this man's business ever again, and grateful that he is so clueless the chances are he will be out of business within a few months.

That being said, I've suddenly reaffirmed my fondness for Subway and Indian take aways (because after all, you can't order lunch from a cafe which does not have an actual menu, can you?)  My reliable sources tell me the gingerbreads sold really well and were well received by the locals.

Final tally in the Gingerbears Fight:

emzee: 1
Overbearing cafe owner: -1 (because he's losing money. To score him at 0 would imply he's breaking even.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I recently spent some time with the only kids who compete with my own for title of, "Kids I Tolerate Best," - namely my sister's three. The two older ones are fabulously well-adjusted teenagers and they are very good at educating me in the ways of the teenage world. It's because of them that I have an entirely crap-tastic hold of the English language but can now ROFLMAO with the best of them. This recent visit, my nephew taught me a new acronym - YOLO. It stands for "You Only Live Once," and apparently it's origins lie in some sort of rap song. So you can smoke them bongs, screw them bitches, ride in your low rider, and get all up in some ho's face and none of it will matter because, you know, YOLO.

I'm sure you all have figured out just how much this expression is RIGHT up my alley. Word on the teenage street is that this expression has now made it into daily (okay, facebook) usage but it's often used to explain away doing totally stupid things. Like... "I just failed my fourth math test, but YOLO." "I'm thirteen and pregnant with the child of my married history teacher, but hey, YOLO!"

Ever since I've learned this expression, the number of times I've either thought (or said out loud), "YOLO!" is ..well, probably too many for a self-respecting adult such as myself. The beauty of this expression is of course that it instantly makes any problem in the world seem very, very small and turns even the worst situation into something worth celebrating.

Untrue but funny as hell examples of how this works:

We can't pay the mortgage this month, but the bank will totally understand, because YOLO!
The children have run off to join the circus (eg the Church of Scientology). Good on them. YOLO!
Husband's penis has grown 6 inches and is now answering back when I talk to it, that's so awesome, YOLO!

You get the idea.

YOLO is the noughties version of "What- EVAH" but it's way, way WAY more fun to use. Try it.

1) Complain about something. Anything at all.
2) Either yell YOLO out loud or in your head. I'm not sure why it requires yelling but it does. Either use the expression with enthusiasm or don't bother.
3) Enjoy the instant happiness.

Bonus points to ANYONE brave enough to post a sentence (real or fake) which is somehow improved simply by adding a good ol' YOLO to the end of it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Wiggle and A Giggle

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really, really miserable - it was yet another freezing Melbourne day where I felt I'd never get that ice water feeling out of my bones, I had a horrendous back ache, and things at work were conspiring to irritate the shit out of me. I can't say for sure, but chances are that the kids were being irritating and for good measure DH was, too. (It's possible they were angels the whole lot of them, but I'm trying to set a scene here, okay?)

Feeling miserable, I tried to come up with a plan for mood improvement which did not involve chocolate and/or drugs of any kind (and I am of course referring to anti-inflammatories. Of course. *wink*). I then had the most brilliant idea EVER. Quite close to home a brand new whizz-bang aquatic centre has opened, and this facility has an ENORMOUS spa in it. When I say "enormous" I mean that you, me, AND the local footy team would all fit in there together. (More on WHY I know a footy team would fit in there in a moment.) My brilliant idea was to abandon my family for a few precious hours and go and sit in said enormous spa. This brilliant idea seemed to solve ALL my problems in one go. First, I'd be WARM. Really warm. Second, I'd be relieving some of my back ache, and third I'd be far away from any humans who would want to talk to me - so I could effectively sit in warm, muscle relaxing comfort without having to even pretend like I enjoy the company of other humans.

I figured a good hour long soak in a quiet hot tub was EXACTLY what Dr Google would order, had I asked him.

Brilliant plan, no?

Brilliant until I realised that the local aqua-plex does not in fact ban other humans from going there. I get to the spa only to discover that it was in fact full of the members of the local footy team. Apparently they relax after an aquatic training session by hanging out and acting like morons in my peaceful bath of tranquility, thus rendering it not tranquil at all. Sure, it improved the view (well, helllllooo there, hot boys!)...but...meh. Then this aquatic and fitness centre has the audacity to run aqua aerobics classes in the hydrotherapy pool located right next to the spa. Yes, because what my moment of serenity really needed was a bunch of old women with bat wing arms enthusiastically swishing about to the beat of Paula Abdul songs reverberating off the tiles.

By now I was absolutely determined to make this whole calm/peace/quiet thing work, regardless of the footy team and the old ladies and even Paula Abdul...until, of course, the straw arrived by sidling up to me in the warm water. The straw being of course an ancient guy who was overly friendly and felt the need to start a conversation. I don't need to tell you that the spa was pretty crowded, and so there was not much opportunity to move away from him  (but of course I tried! I really did.) We'll call him Con, shall we? Con the overly-friendly Greek geriatric who decided I was worth chatting up. So there I sit, in my warm cocoon of loveliness...learning all about Con's life story and feeling utterly trapped. Con's entire life story tumbled right out of his mouth, with nary a stop to take a breath (retired butcher, 3 kids, lives across the road, does not approve of tattoos or piercings, comes to the spa three times a week, his wife drives him mad, he is just working out this whole internet thing.)


By now I'd pretty much given up all hope of achieving my dream of an hour of warm, peaceful, muscle relaxing enjoyment. I certainly was warm, but probably more from the collective pee in there rather than what the thermostat was set to. Yes, I just went there. I was miserable, okay? I found myself FAR more grumpy on the way OUT of the spa than on the way in - thus defeating the entire purpose of my trip there.

I was NOT happy.

Except...this story needs a happy ending, doesn't it?

A couple minutes before I gave up and finally decided to completely blow this over-crowded and noisy taco stand, old Con decided to make his exit, too. He bid me adieu and floated his way across to the other side. I should explain that you can exit the spa either via the stairs, or simply by climbing out over the short wall at the other side. Con was of the one-leg-over exit strategy...which afforded me a full frontal view of his wrinkled dingle-dangly bits, because old Con was sporting fully transparent white bathing shorts. Con, being the overly friendly sort, stopped mid-clamber to face me fully and wave goodbye enthusiastically, which of course made little Con wave enthusiastically, too.

My bad mood? Gone in a wiggle..and a giggle.