Friday, August 26, 2011

Intimidating Pancakes

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The old man with the walking stick glared at me. I paid no attention and eyeballed the betting lines for tonight's baseball games. The bookies set the run total for the Yankees/Baltimore game at least 1 run higher than normal. That meant only one thing -- the lackluster A.J. Burnett was taking the mound for the Yanks.

The old man's wife also glared at me with mean eyes that had not been hugged since the early days of the Reagan administration. I sat in their usual seat and methodically carved through a stack of chocolate chip pancakes. Instead of sitting at a different table or booth, they kinda made a scene, or at least tried to. I ignored them and enjoyed my breakfast. The staff ignored them and continued on with their morning duties.

The SoCal sun battled through the feisty marine layer and shiny rays poker through the clouds. The biggest drawback to moving to San Francisco is the lack of an every mornin breakfast joint, because the closest diner to us is an utter shithole. I'm gonna miss the coffeeshop around the corner from us in the Slums of Beverly Hills.Yes, one of the best things about living in Los Angeles is the local coffeeshop. I eat there as much as 5 or 6 times a week when I'm not on the road and have an extended amount of time in LA. Lord knows how much I've written about the coffeeshop on my blog, but it's truly an essential part to my daily routine.

I'm sure the old couple has been coming into the coffeeshop for much longer than someone like myself, but I betcha I tip better than they do, which is why I get more attentive service than they do. If a server knows they have a good tipper in front of them, they will put forth a much better effort. In short, good tippers bring out top notch service.

I'm a low maintenance customer -- just keep filling up a glass of iced tea and let me read a book in peace and the world is a perfect place. I eat rather quickly and usually never linger because I want to go back home for a smoke and then sit down in my office to write. On some mornings, I've been writing for a few hours before I take a walk and grab grub. But most of the time, I'm thinking about what I want to write about when I walk through the front door. For example, on my way home this morning, the old couple popped into my head.

I didn't like their smug attitude and sense of entitlement. There's a pair of two tops up front. When it's busy, I sit at the counter. When it's not busy, I sit at the tables because it has the best light in the coffeeshop. The cops always sit in the back room or in the last booth. The weird old guys sit up at the counter. The mechanics from the auto body shops in the area squeeze into the booths. They always eat in trios or quartets and two of them are always on the obese side. I never understood how a mechanic could be fat, how the hell do they squeeze underneath cars and such?

The old couple sat up front at a specific table, and I was sitting in their spot, with the other table wide open and a couple of booths available as well. When I noticed they were trying to intimidate me with sighs and glances in a weak ass attempt to speed up my meal, that irked me. I slowed down the consumption of chocolate chip pancakes. I took longer glances at my CrackBerry in between bites. I had over 124 un-read emails for four different accounts and I slowly sifted through them all.

Had the couple been nicer about it, I would have probably would have offered to switch spots. I noticed the staff didn't rush to greet them or say much to the grumps. They served the grumps for over a decade and we not fighting for the right to serve them. The grumps glared at me. Their rude sense of entitlement made me flip the switch from breezy easy-going nice guy, to "fuck you fucktard.... I got here first."

Besides, it could very well be the last time I ever ate at the coffeeshop before I moved on. The least they could've done was suck it up for five minutes and politely wait for me to finish my meal. The last breakfast. Instead, they tried to intimidate me over pancakes.

The coffeeshop is something that I'll never forget about LA, it's something I will miss dearly, and my last visit was soured by the pissed off old couple. Oh well, now I'll have to pop in on a weekend (which I rarely do because it's so fucking busy) to say goodbye to the Mexican cooks and members of the family who owns/operates the joint.

Yeah, I know I moan about the plasticity of LA and the traffic, which everyone from NYC bitches about when they migrate to the City of Angeles, but I do have a few things that I'll miss about LA. In case you were wondering about the list....
1. Breakfast time in LA... both the coffeeshop (daily) and O'Groats (weekly) are among my favorite places to eat in the city. The bacon at O'Groats is a Top 3 all time.

2. Sunshine. The welcomed warmth of the sun as it hits my face, protected my Retro-turtle Ray Bans. The warm weather is why so many people put up with all the bullshit of living in LA and maybe if I was 10-15 years older, I'd welcome the warmth without the sticky, muggy humidity of the East Coast and Deep South.

3. Palm trees. Waking up next to my girlfriend and looking out the bedroom window to see palm trees shooting up out of the ground is how my scatter-brained mind, constantly on the road, helps trigger a reminder that I'm in LA. Sometimes I'm traveling so much for work, I'll wake up in a slight panic because I don't recognize where I crashed and don't know what city I'm in.

4. In-N-Out Burger.

5. Singers singing. Either the violin girl upstairs working on vocals or the waitress/aspiring actress across the alley singing in the shower or practicing harmonies at random times. The waitress/actress had a roommate, who also was in a holding pattern while she waited tables until she got her big break as a singer. Well, she got her first taste of the Big Time and the clock started ticking of her 15-minutes of fame when she finished in the Top 10 of American Idol. Ah, that's the magical allure of Hollywood Dreamers... one day you're bitching about getting stiffed in tips, and the next day you're covering Elton John songs on national TV.
Yep, that's all I got for now.

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