a highly weird experience, and the very lovely blacksmith café
So here's something odd that happened yesterday.
Yesterday morning, I decided that instead of going to one of my usual coffeehouse haunts, I'd try a new one. I'd heard of one in particular that supposedly had a good breakfast, so I packed up my cameras and laptop and headed that direction.
When I entered in the very pretty café, I noticed that there were only about 3 other tables occupied, two of which had laptops on them.
A young woman approached me. She was tall, serious, in her early twenties perhaps, with auburn hair and blue eyes.
"Just you, today?"
I smiled. "Yes." As I followed her to the table, I said, "hey, do you guys have wifi?"
"Yuuh..." she started, and then caught herself. She turned to look at me. "Um, no," she said, her face serious. And then, with a sudden grin that seemed too big, and an exaggerated shrug, "Sorry!"
"No worries," I smiled back. She left me alone to look at the menu, and returned a few minutes later.
"I'd like this, please," I said, pointing to the menu item. "but can you please have it made without the potatoes?"
She looked at me, and all traces of her apologetic smile had vanished. "Um, well, the potatoes are all mixed into the rest of the meal."
I looked at her. "Okay, so there's no way to ..."
"I mean," she interrupted, "I suppose I could have the chef make it without the potatoes, but the potatoes are sort of the whole point of the meal."
I smiled, this time with a bit more effort. "Okay. Well, I'd really like to try it without the potatoes, then, please, if that's okay."
"Fine," she said tersely, taking my menu.
As she walked away, I looked around at the other patrons on their laptops. Suddenly, I had a hunch. I pulled out my iPhone to see if there was any wifi signal. Immediately, "RESTAURANT NAME wifi" popped up as available. I clicked on it. A web page opened up, and said, "Welcome to RESTAURANT NAME! To be immediately connected to the internet, please accept our terms of service by clicking here."
I was stunned. The café obviously had wifi; what's more, it was clearly available to its patrons, without even the need for a password. I pulled out my laptop to log on.
Just like on my phone, the restaurant's wifi appeared indicating a strong signal, and the same welcome page popped up. I accepted the terms of service, and was immediately online.
When she arrived with my meal about 15 minutes later, I was on my Facebook page, so it was obvious that I was on the internet. Her face registered my screen, and then she looked at me with a tight smile. "Here you go," she said, placing my food in front of me.
"Thank you," I said, my smile as thin as hers.
About 5 minutes later, when I was about 1/4 of the way through my meal, she returned. "Are you going to want anything else?"
I swallowed. "No, thanks."
She put the bill in front of me, "Okay, then. No rush." And she walked away without looking at me, or another word.
I have no idea why she lied to me about the restaurant's wifi service, or seemed uninterested in waiting my table. I watched her with the other patrons in the restaurant, and she seemed warm, joking and laughing with them in turn; however, with her not-impolite-but-decidely-curt behaviour toward me, it was clear that I was the last person she wanted to interact with that day.
Honestly, I didn't bother to hang around to find out why. In fact, I didn't even finish my meal. I just paid my bill and left.
Blacksmith is small but light-filled, and had a decent crowd when I arrived. One of the guys behind the bar smiled and beckoned me over.
"Welcome to Blacksmith!" he said, cheerily. "What can I get for you?"
I smiled back. "A cappuccino?" I responded. "Also, you guys wouldn't happen to have wifi, would you?"
"Sure do," he said. "Need the password?" And he gave it to me.
After ringing me up, he pointed to his coworker. "David will get that cappuccino for you," he said, his smile as warm as ever. "Thanks so much."
I moved along the bar, where David was working away.
"You look really familiar to me," he said, as warmly as the first guy I met.
"Huh," I responded. "Maybe I'm famous, and I just don't know it?"
"Where might we have met before?"
He stopped working for a second, and regarded me keenly. "TED?" he suddenly asked.
"Yes!" I smiled. "Were you there?"
"You were one of the speakers, right?" I nodded. "You have a good memory," I said.
"I was the food director."
"Oh! Well, you did a great job," I smiled. And then, looking around: "Wait ... is this your coffeehouse?"
He grinned. "Yup. We opened in January."
"Well, I'm hearing rave reviews," I gushed. "I'm so happy to be here."
"We're happy you came! Tell me your name, again?" As I responded, he finished his work with a flourish, and presented me with the prettiest cappuccino I've had in a while.
"Goodness," I said, "you did that beautifully."
"Well, it's made with love!" He grinned. "Enjoy, Karen, thanks so much for coming in."
The cappuccino was delicious, but that's not why I was in such a great mood as I sipped it. The contrast between the lovely people at Blacksmith and the waitress I'd just left was stunning: at Blacksmith, I felt more than welcome, but even more importantly, everyone who was working there seemed really happy to be there. They greeted everyone who walked into the joint with the same warmth they treated me, ensuring that everyone was comfortable and had everything they needed.
I shared a cellphone photo of my cappuccino on Facebook, and someone responded that she'd heard Blacksmith was known for their biscuits. Damn. If I hadn't already half-eaten breakfast, I would've totally ordered one.
Instead, I had another cappuccino.
Thanks so much for your warmth, hospitality and delicious coffee, Blacksmith.
And if you're going to be in the Houston area anytime soon, be sure to look them up. They're amazing, their superpowers are making people feel awesome and they're open every day.