If you haven't already, read Part 1.
Sure, it would have happened sooner or later, I just wouldn't have ever imagined that my departure from the cupcake shop would happen the way that it did. I had been really sick all week, my voice on the brink of being lost, everything congested and muffled and tiresome. I shouldn't have gone in to work that day.
The morning had been unusually busy and the customary afternoon shit-storm beyond full force because, in addition to the regular m-f-ers, some kid was having a riotous, let's-throw-shit-all-over-the-place birthday party. It was so busy that I didn't have time to think; all I could do was hustle and try not to cough and snot over everything or pass out.
To make matters worse, it seemed that all of the crazies were let out that day, or every ne'er do well got their dole money, or all the bums—who in England roar and inexplicably bleed out of their faces and will have their moment in a future Dickheadz—arose from their slumps with a collective desire for cake, because the latter part of my afternoon was spent serving an especially tattered clientele.
First there was Crackhead Jones, wiry and crazy-eyed and jittery, trembling as he entered the store. He wasn't at all hostile but maybe… on crack? Meth? PCP? Because he was swinging all over the place, his fingers drumming and flying off of the counter as he tried not to impulsively grab things. Eventually he caved and picked up a small, butterfly-shaped tea light sitting on the counter. He turned it over in his hand, inspected it, flipped it over a few times, then shook it at my face and said, “AW YEH DISH IS NOICE. YEH INNIT NOICE.”
He looked at me, twitching. “YEH? NOICE?”
And before I even had a chance to answer, he said, “TOO BAD YER GOTTA SET IT ON FIRE,” slammed it back down, looked confused for a second, and ran away.
Shortly after Crackhead Jones left, a dusty, scabby-looking guy wearing a floppy bucket hat came in, gravitating towards the Victoria sponge cake and enthusiastically waving a ten pound note around in the air.
My stomach dropped and I thought oh shit, not again, because the last time I encountered this guy he was threatening to throw a cupcake in my face.
The first time I saw him, he was crouching outside of the shop window and pointing at some of the cupcakes, furiously jabbing at the glass and shooting angry looks at me. I looked at him and mouthed, What? Clearly annoyed that I couldn't correctly decipher his manic poking, he kept jabbing and scowling until I finally huffed over to open the door, leaned out and asked, “What? What do you want, man?” He looked up at me and said, slowly, as if I was the dumbest piece of shit he had ever met in his life, “I want dat cake.”
So he followed me back into the store and picked out his cupcake, which I put in a bag and brought over to the register.
“That'll be £1.20, please,” I said.
He was looking at the ground, shuffling his feet.
“Howmuchisdat?” he asked.
“Howmuchisdat,” he asked again, a little angry.
“One. Pound. Twenty. Please.”
“ONE POUND TWENTY.”
At this point I was like, man, fuck this guy, and admittedly didn’t try very hard to hide it as I told him, again, "ONE POUND AND TWENTY PENCE, PLEASE."
The guy leaned in and hissed, “I KNOW. DAT’S TOO MUCH."
"TOO MUCH, DAT’S TOO EXPENSIVE,” he said, strangely fishing change out of his pocket at the same time.
“Well," I told him, "Don’t buy it then.”
“Yeh," he said, counting the money is his hand, "Well, Ifrowitinyerface.”
He put the money on the counter and looked right at me. “I FROW IT IN YER FACE.”
I looked at him for a hard second, slid his money off of the counter, handed him his cake and, in one of my less inspiring moments, said, "Whatever."
So when this guy came into the store again, I wasn't particularly thrilled. I looked at him and said, "Whoa, man, I don't know." He seemed crestfallen, turning to me with a pleading bum version of puppy eyes. "Well," I said, "You were kind of mean last time. You hurt my feelings. You said you were going to throw cupcake in my face." He cracked a gap-toothed smile and said, "Yeh, but c'mon, everyone has their days," and gave a little aw shucks shrug.
I gave in. Because yeah, everyone does have their days—though those days usually don't involve threatening people with baked goods.
Barely a minute after he left this scrappy little kid burst in, all fired up and "Yeh, yeh, yeh," and wanting candy before his bus came.
The candy was kept in big, heavy jars lined up on a shelf because it was supposed to be old-timey and cute, sold by the gram which you had to carefully weigh out. But hauling those jars around was a pain, especially when you were sickly and weak.
So the kid was all hopping around going, "Yeh! Yeh! Some of dem cherry fings! Some of dem udder fings! Oi, oi, wots those yellow fings? Wots they? WOT IS THEY?!"
I had no idea what those yellow things were. So I told the kid, "Um, those are Golden Balls." Just as I was handing him his sweets, an enormous man—the kid's dad? Dealer? Drinking buddy?—came crashing through the door.
It was startling. His eyes were all fucked up, bulging out of the sides of his head and looking in two different directions, like he had been significantly clocked in the head. (Kind of like this guy on the left only times four). Much more alarming, however, was the barbaric stench that he brought with him, the most noxious BO-halitosis-sewage-collision I've ever experienced, dragon breath steaming out of his mouth, cascading in toxic gas chamber tides of stink off of his body.
He was also unbelievably loud. The kid held up his bag to show off the candy, and Dad/Dealer/Drinking Buddy got really excited, turned to me and hollered, “OOH ERR YEH, SUM OF DEM YELLOW BON BON FINGS YEH CAM-ON GO ON GIV US SOME OF DOSE, YEHHHH.” Though they made a cute pair, I was still a little shook up when they left. I had never quite experienced that level of volume and odor in this frilly little tea room—and I was not at all ready for Chavvy McSpazz and King Biscuit to walk in.
By this point I was beat, man. I had about 30 minutes left before I could close shop and I was ready to collapse. Seeing these two walk in was like having my heart drop-kicked across the street and watching it sail through the air and get slammed by a bypassing SUV. They must have sensed my vulnerable state, because they were immediately obnoxious.
While King Biscuit went downstairs to use the toilet (I was too tired to fight it), Chavvy McSpazz wanted to get some candy. Of course, to make my life difficult, she insisted on a huge variety. So I'm taking down all these jars and biting my tongue and scooping this shit out onto the scales behind the counter, and she's being a big steaming shit-bag about it, standing there with her hands on her hips and ordering me around with shit like, “OI, THAS TOO MUCH. PUT EM BACK. PUT SOME OF DEM CHERRIES BACK, I SAID I WANTED FIZZY COLAS.”
She kept yelling and I kind of ignored her, but when she then suddenly jumped up and tried to snatch some shit from behind the counter, I finally—after months of pretending I could do this thing called customer service—just snapped. In that split second I told her, very precisely, to Fuck Off.
It blew her away. I immediately realized my mistake with one of those gut-sinking ohhh fucks. I scrambled.
"Look," I said, "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I really didn't mean to curse at you, it wasn't personal. I've been having a really bad day, a bad week, actually a bad couple of months, and today was just not a good time."
Chavvy looked stunned. Deeply offended. She was holding her hand against her chest, her mouth agape.
I asked her if she was OK.
And this is when bitch must have realized her golden opportunity to completely ruin me, because she looked up at me slowly and, after a dramatic pause, said, "I don't think so." Which is a pretty mature thing to say. Yes, she told me, she was probably going to have to tell her mother.
"You just can't tell a child to fuck off," she said.
After she and King B left and I locked the door, I went downstairs and told my boss that I had made a grave, grave error.
My boss explained that she was looking for someone to be "the face" of the shop, someone to "rise in the company," someone who had "the same vision."
Needless to say I didn't and still don’t have the vision of cupcakes. The vision I do have is hoping to see Chavvy on the street, and to beckon her with a come-hither finger, pull her in close, lean into her ear, and with an effective pause much like hers, quietly saying: “Fuck off.”