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Thursday, January 18

A Series of Minor Challenges

There are two women in the cafe at work. Actually, there may be three, but for the last few days there have only been two, so let's discount the third one, of whom I was never that fond anyway. Let's not name and shame these women either. Both of them try to do the best job, and both seem very pleasant. This is a boon. However, they differ in a particular respect. The younger of the two seems to believe that my cappuccino with an extra shot should cost 70p. The older of the two seems to think it should cost 75p. The older of the two will turn the cup as the last drops of espresso dribble in, in order to make sure the cup has its full quota of milk and espresso. The younger waits until the cup looks a little full and then delivers it to me. Since I order the extra shot in order to get much strength in the drink, it always pains me to see a good half or third of a shot of espresso dribble into the drip tray after I get my cup. I reason that I've paid for this shot, so should be given it. Then I reason that the younger girl is the one who does this and she also consistently undercharges me for the drink, so maybe I'm better off financially as part of the deal. Let's assume that she doesn't consistently waste even a third of a shot. Maybe it averages out to a seventh of a shot, which is about the amount she undercharges me on the extra shot.

So, I feel like the whole coffee thing has an equilibrium. It still pains me. I can't actually say something about it without causing a lot of offence, so I keep quiet. It usually works. On one occasion, the older women took my drink order and charged me the higher price, and even started making the drink, but then the younger one took over and I saw my higher-priced drink wasted. This rankled. So, I hit on a plan. I reckoned that if I could distract the younger woman while the last bit of espresso is still entering the cup, then I might be able to subtly get a full cup without her realising. I tried this first on Friday, and she "boyfriended" me.

A quick aside. To be "boyfriended" is quite simple. A man speaks to a woman and asks her a question which could be innocent, or could be flirtatious/leading to flirtation/in any way crossing her personal boundary. The woman will then, in answer to the question, do a quick mention of the boyfriend. For example, I might ask something like "Do they make you work long hours?", and the woman may think that this is leading to a "Or are you free after work to come back to my place for the sex?". In response the woman could say something like "It's not too bad. It's a hell of a lot better than the hours my boyfriend has to work". In this way, I'm aware she has a boyfriend and she doesn't have to say something like "I'm terribly sorry, but if you're about to ask me back for the sex, I'd have to decline and embarrass us both". It's always a shock to be boyfriended, as it means that I may be coming across as a bit predatory... or maybe I just talk to insecure women too much. Over the last couple of years I've felt significantly non-predatory, but it doesn't always matter. Some men are, so many women are careful. In Edinburgh, in August, I demanded a couple of young girls (I mean 19 years old, which is now, for some reason, young) move forward a row for a better view and "Come and sit here, next to me". They baulked. My follow up line was "I'll rephrase. I love my girlfriend very much. Now come over here and sit on the front row for a better view". Apparently the "girlfriending" doesn't always seem as believable as boyfriending.

Anyway, back from the aside, we're at my technique of distracting the young woman with words to avoid my coffee going into the drip tray. On Friday it sort of worked. This morning it failed miserably. She took a moment out of our follow up to Friday's chat, where I asked after the darts match that she was taking her boyfriend to, to deliver me my as-yet-unfilled cup. Grrr.

I know that this is really a minor irritation. It's probably even better for me not to have as much coffee in my system. Still, minor irritations add up. But they're also a series of minor challenges, so perhaps they can be overcome in some way. After another night in the house, here are a series of new minor challenges:
  • Stop the sitting room smelling a bit of wee wee - I think it may be the damp
  • Learn how to have a shower with the electric shower that only does burning hot or freezing cold and cannot keep at either temperature for very long (I did it last night, but it was sub-optimal to say the least)
  • Get more power sockets in my bedroom
  • Find some way of vacuuming the carpets before the dust and dirt gets ground in (I'm getting a vacuum cleaner may be the answer)
  • Get an aerial for the new TV (mmm new TV) so that I can actually watch more than Scrubs DVDs (mmm Scrubs)
  • Have somewhere to sit
  • Have some means of keeping things cold, other than the whole house (a fridge is traditional, but buying a fridge seems contingent on knowing something about the kitchen it's destined for - or at leasting knowing more than I know now)
  • Fit the new toilet roll holder in the upstairs bathroom (it's a temporary solution to toilet roll holding, given that the bathroom is due for wrecking, but it would be better than not fitting it - I'm yet to "christen" that toilet with my bottom)
There are many more challenges too, but that's enough for now. A project like this is quite simply a lot of details and my life will probably be absorbed with these details for some time to come. Only kidding, it'll all be finished by Tuesday and we can go to the pub. If only!

A final story. I used the phrase "christen" to refer to making use of a toilet. It brings to mind a story which I don't remember very much first hand, but which was told to me about me, so I'll assume it was true. My school had a sponsored walk when I was in my final year there. I decided not to walk (or maybe my obesity decided it for me, I forget my size at this point - I think it was a size that I'd be thrilled to get back to, whatever it was). So, instead, I opted to help with "marshalling". This basically involved setting up a checkpoint along the route where people could stop for a comfort break. It was my job to help erect the toilet tent - a chemical toilet in a tent. This I did, with much help, I presume, since I'm not a big tentsman (I think I've slept under canvas maybe twice in my life). When the tent was complete, the teacher supervising asked me "So, are you going to christen it?", to which I replied "No sir, but I'm going to do something that rhymes with that". If that happened, and I think it probably did, then I showed a wit and presence of mind that I would do well to improve on when I return to stand-up in a few weeks.

Lots to do.

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