[align=center]Sophismata, Sententia Café Chapter 1: Welcoming Tea[/align]
Café Sententia, that was spelled out in big maroon letters on a banner that hung outside above the windows that peered into the café itself. When looking in one could only see the boxes stacked up against the windows and because of this there had been some small talk on the street about the Sententia.
Somni slid the key into the front door and unlocked it. When he went in he took down a help wanted sign that had been in the door. Instead he set up a small message on the door for the employees soon to come. ’Employees please come in and report to the Manager’s office.’ He then returned to the back of the dark café and turned on the lights to brighten it up. The dust still was settled on the ground but not so much that it was stained in. Heading over to the office, where he kept the paperwork for the café, he set his folder he had down. Afterward he quickly turned on the computer in the room. ”Today we should have the internet working.” He mumbled to himself. As the start up window shown on the screen he turned towards the stack of papers on his desk. There was a pile of applicants that wanted to work here but four sat on the other side of his desk, the ones soon to arrive, the ones he called yesterday. Getting up he went straight for a cabinet that was left over. Opening it up and looking at the empty shelves he thought it over. It looked to be a nice place to store all the cleaning supplies. Returning to his desk he opened the drawer and pulled out a shopping bag. Inside were tons of cleaning supplies, from simple table wipes to paper towels for each table and booth. In the corner were a set of new bought mops and brooms.
With the supplies now in its appropriate place all he had to do was wait.
It was still dark when I opened my eyes, and when I said dark, I meant there's absolutely nothing that my eyes can see. Reaching for the light switch beside me, I turned on the reading light and the coffin-like room was illuminated.
I barely fit inside the 'room' which was only about six feet long, a meter wide, and around a meter tall. There wasn't even enough room to sit, and so, I have to make do with putting my pillow against the wall and leaning on it.
I took a look at the alarm clock beside me, it was still 4:30 in the morning. I still have enough time to rest. Reaching for a worn out pocketbook I brought with me, I took that flier I got yesterday. It was for an establishment called Sententia Café. I didn't particularly care what it is for nor what kind of job is awaiting for me there, I just want a job. It's been a week since I ran away from my father, and my money, a month's worth of allowance, is already almost used up. I tried supplementing it by working on different odd jobs, but they're not enough. I need a stable job, and a place to stay -- not this excuse for a hotel which could also double as a deluxe coffin.
Putting back the flier into that pocketbook I always carry with me, I planned what I would do for the rest of the day. I would go back to that cafe to report to the manager, after that, or if that doesn't work out well, I don't know. Perhaps I'll go look for another job.
The air raid siren disguised as an alarm told me it was time to get up, and go. It's just five o'clock in the morning, a bit too early to be on the streets, but I have to get up, before the capsule hotel employees really lock me inside this coffin for good.
A quick shower and bath in a not-so-crowded bathing area woke me up. I was never really a fan of naked men, but I have to make do. After all, this was never meant to be a luxury hotel. And after a close encounter with a naked, recently sober, middle-aged man, I made my way into the basins, and quickly brushed my teeth.
I was thankful that most Japanese take their bath before sleeping, or else, I might have to find my own space in a jam-packed communal bath area. However, the locker room is already crowded, with men wanting to be home before sunrise, or at least, before their wives notice that they've been away for the night.
I quickly changed my clothes and exchanged my key for my shoes, and left. I still needed some rest, but, I need to get moving.
After a quick breakfast in a convenience store, I made my way out into the streets. The manager told me yesterday that I needed to be there sometime after lunch. And seeing that it's just around seven in the morning, I still have much time to burn.
I wandered along the streets of Tokyo, looking for a way to pass the time. Slept for a bit in a park, and by the time I woke up again, it's already past one in the afternoon, just enough time for a quick lunch.
By the time I arrived there, the cafe is still closed, but with a note on the door: "Employees please come in and report to the Manager’s office."
"Employee?" I thought, "Does that mean I'm already hired?" I opened the door and made my way inside.
"If looking for a job back home were this easy, I wouldn't have gone to Japan in the first place." I thought as I walked through the cafe and into the manager's office. I knocked tentatively on the office door and awaited for a reply. The manager answered the door and after a quick greeting, briefed me quickly as to what I should do.
"Seeing that this store needed some cleaning up, I think you can start by making sure the store is cleaned up before we open." the manager said while leaning against the door supports.
"This isn't like a normal cleaning by the way," he went on, "this is cleaning up the store so it meets codes. You know like city codes for restaurants and cafes"
"Codes?" I mumbled, showing my ignorance and my bewilderment.
The manager showed me a notice posted on the office window, and pointed out a particular sentence: "Health code 15287 - wash rooms must be sanitized with a product containing no less that 48.6% bleach."
"I wonder what this has to do with my job being a cashier" I thought as I looked around, "But hey, I should not be choosy when it comes to jobs. I just need to be thankful that this manager chose me for this job"
"Ok," the manager heaved a deep breath before moving on, "floors must be swept and then mopped and then they probably will need another round of mopping and maybe some scrubbing."
"The tables are pretty ok they just need a good wipe down type of stuff" he went on pointing to the tables.
The manager shifted his position and went on further. "You will also be responsible for people coming along and asking about the cafe, but you need not worry much about that since we will open tomorrow at the earliest, you just need to make sure that the store is cleaned up well."
The manager heaved another deep breath before speaking further, "Is everything clear?"
I could just nod despite being confused, my mind pretty much preoccupied to where I will be staying for the next night, and the night after the next, and so on.
"Very well then," the manager nodded while smiling, "my name is Somni Mikaa, I hope we can work well together."
Somni reached out to shake my hand, "Please take care of me well, and I will do my best," I replied shaking his hand.
"Now, if you may excuse me..." he said as he opened the door to his office, "I want to be left alone for a while."
"I'M HERE~!" came a loud booming voice! One that followed the kicking open of the front door and the slamming of it behind her.
Of course, no one was there in the front of the cafe, leaving Ame to blink around at all the boxes, dusty tables and generally mess of the newly moved-in Cafe.
"NEVER FEAR! YOU TOLD ME WHAT TO DO YESTERDAY! HEE~!" Now, Ame was just talking loudly to hear her own voice. She was still baffled at how quickly Mister Mikaa hired her, and to make it up to him she fully intended to exceed expectations. Maybe in a couple weeks she could get a raise and then she'd be seeing Takeshi Testuhara in concert all the time! Hottie, here she comes!
Ame, skipped across the room to stomp in to the back and pick up supplies when she nearly slammed some guy in the face.
"What the hell are you standing there for?" she asked, staring at him for a minute. "Nevermind, there's work to be doing. Are there some aprons back here? I don't want to get dirt on my sweater."
Tsubame tucked a gentle orchid blossom behind her ear as she exited the house and made her way to the cafe. Smiling serenely, she entered and looked around, slinking steadily towards the kitchen.
Taking a white and red checked cloth in her hand, she twisted the handle to the kitchen sink, which released a gush of hot water. Adding lemony smelling cleaning solution to the sink which was rapidly filling with hot water, she scanned the dusty cooking equipment with a wary eye.
Dipping her hands in, the hot instantly brought a brilliant red tint to her skin and she tugged them out quickly, wringing out her washcloth. Soon, as she cleansed in wide, lemon-scented strokes, the room began to take on a citrus sparkle that seemed to bubble with cleanliness. To herself, Tsubame began to hum cheerily.
All the noise from the night before made it very hard for Jun to get any sleep at all since everyone in the house acted like she didnt even exsist. For her morning came all to early. Her back already hurt from the strange postion she slept in. The oldest nephew thought it would be funny to hide Juns shoes and as soon as she ready to leave she spent an extra few mintues looking for them.
It was pointless she looked in all the rooms of the sleeping household and still no shoes. Not in the kitchen or back deck. She knew she had left them by the front door and just before she grabbed her nieces shoes that were to small she spotted them. Shaking her head Jun walked over to the oversized pot where a perfectly manicured Japanese maple flickered in the early moring air. "Rotten little.." Jun whispred under her breath as she beat the dirt from them and then took off toward work.
She arrived after the others and that was never a good thing. She knew what to do from the phone call from before and set to work. She smiled at the other girls but didnt really feel they even cared if she lived or died. Lowering her eyes she traded her knit sweater for her apron. Her task was much like the work she did at home the only differnce was the she didnt have little feet running on her clean floors just seconds after she cleaned them.
Jun to find a bucket and then all the other supplies to clean the floor with. Try as she might she couldnt find the scrub brush. She hated to bother the boss but had no choice. She knocked gently on the door and waited for his reply.
It came and she lowered her head and gaze giving him a small bow. "Morning Master sir.. I." Her mouth went dry as she tried to speak. "I can not find the large scrub brush sir.." she bowed again being she was so nervus.
As the door closed, the sound of the door being kicked open and slammed shout, followed by a loud, booming voice startled me.
"I'M HERE~!" the voice said.
Turning around, I saw that the owner of the voice is a beautiful woman with long hair, who didn't seem to notice my presence.
"NEVER FEAR! YOU TOLD ME WHAT TO DO YESTERDAY! HEE~!" she said, perhaps talking to herself. She then skipped her way across the room, and *BOOM*
I was almost slammed in the face.
"What a way to start a new job...." I said to myself after a while. I touched my forehead with my palm, and wiped the sweat that wasn't even there.
"What the hell are you standing there for?" she asked, as she examined me from head to toe.
"Nothing...." I answered, but apparently, it wasn't loud enough for her to hear me. Or perhaps, I didn't answer her at all.
"Nevermind, there's work to be doing. Are there some aprons back here? I don't want to get dirt on my sweater." she went on, as if nothing happened.
"Uh... I don't know. I hadn't checked out the back rooms yet" I replied a bit too late, as she already made her way towards the back.
I followed her there, and found out that she already found the cleaning implements.
"uhm... You also working here?" I asked her as I reached for a rag.
She didn't answer me back, however, and I placed the rag back to its place, I took a broom in its place. As I went back out to the main cafe area, I was surprised to see somebody else, two of them in fact. One is already wiping the tables, while the other was already scrubbing the floor.
I stood there stupidly, holding the broom in my hands.
"I guess I'll just sweep the storefront" I said to myself as I made my way out.
Ame was digging around in one of the supply boxes to pull out some things, but when she turned around to reply to the guy, he had run off! She blinked, with a frown, but was quickly pulling on the apron and tying it neatly around her waist.
Before long, Ame had taken up the task of putting away supplies, dishware, and setting up tables. But the utter silence of the place was driving her mad. She knew Tsubame from school. The girl was always so shy and quiet, Ame was pretty sure she could make her cry just by looking at her funny. (Not that she'd WANT to, but jeeze! The girl was so sensitive!) The other girl that seemed to be working there, Ame wasn't familiar with. She had walked in to the back to speak to the Bossman.
Ame just finished setting up one of the tables when she paused and let out a loud, "RAAAAAAAAAAGH!" Startling everyone in the place.
"I can't take it anymore! This silence is crazy! Does anyone mind if I turn on some music? I brought some Takeshi Tetsuhara CDs. ...By the way, HI! I'm Ame!" She made sure to state her name loud enough for the other two workers to hear, and gave pointed stares that she expected to be responded to!
The sudden scream terrifed Jun and she jumped so hard that she elbowed a broom and it started to fall she tried to grab it but in the act knocked over a stack of applications. The whole mess went crashing down to the floor. It landed hard and spread out like wild fire. Her mouth dropped as she was frozen in place. This was is she was so fired. She didnt even know what to say.
"I.." she was going to say something she had too but the words didnt come so she dropped down and started picking things up. It was hard to do since everything got mixed up in the fall. The names and pages were all mixed and some backwards and others upside down. Her hands were shaking as she tried to hold the broom back and over and over it flopped over and tapped her in the head. She kept setting it up and it would fall again. She was trying to hard, but it wasnt really helping.
’So this is my crew huh?’ Was the first thought that went through Somni’s head as the scream let out a series of mishaps. While the papers fell words of his father went through his head. ’A ship needs a leader, with a good leader comes a good crew.’ It was something he always stood by. As the girl quickly went into a failed clean up mode Somni decided to stop the work he was doing and help out. She seemed terrified at the thought of doing something like this on the first day, however, as soon as Somni caught hold of the broom and gave her a big smile that sense of terror left.
“You must be Jun. I recognize you from the interview and how nervous you were then. I did not hire you for perfection.” Somni said hoping she would not take it as an insult. He got down on the floor and picked up the remaining papers. “I hired loyal and true employees willing to make a difference in their life.” He finished setting all the papers on his desk. Luckily the floor where the applications fell was not mopped yet leaving just a little dust at the bottom of the piles. “Oh and between you and me Jun, I think loyalty is much better than statistics.” Somni whispered as he went back to the office.
With the computer on and running he went to a excel sheet. He started to browse around the list of things that he ordered for the store.
Jun was still blushing but happy that her new boss didnt yell at her or fire her on the spot. His words were a big comfort to her “Oh and between you and me Jun, I think loyalty is much better than statistics.” Jun smiled and gave him a quick little bow and spoke softly as she left his office "Hai, wakarimashita" and with that Jun hurried back toward the supply cabinet and found what she had missed the first time.
She took her time getting the water just the right temp and looked toward the girl that had been yelling. She couldnt hold back a smile. The girl was wild and free so different from hereself. It was nice to be around someone so free. As soon as the water was hot enoungh Jun picked up the heavy bucket and scruber and went toward a very grimmy patch of the floor. It was right behind the front counter and looked like it was an area that had a lot of foot traffic. Setting the bucket down she made sure that the pretty curtains that hid the pipes and things were tied up as to not get wet and she got down and started scrubbing the stubborn spots. Once she worked her way all the way across the front counter to the opossite side she stood up and popped her back. Letting out a sigh she went to dump the water out and then started to pack napkins into the small silver holders on a side table, while the others did other tasks.
Deciding to investigate the outer room, Tsubame tiptoed with her rag to the door in time to hear a few speeches.
Tsubame frowned slightly at Ame, but for once the louder girl had something socially correct about the situation. Much as speaking to strange people worried her, Tsubame thought she ought to at least try to be sociable.
Clearing her throat, a tiny, nervous smile on her lips, Tsubame addressed the other workers in the room as she wiped a table with her freshly wrung rag. "H-hello, everyone... I take it you're all working here... my name is Rantsuki-san, but you can call me Tsubame if you wish. I hope that we will be very good friends.." embarrassedly, she turned back down to scrubbing the tables now that the kitchen equipment had been cleaned.
Jun looked up from the box she was unpacking and smiled at the girl as her bangs fell into her eyes. She let out a sigh and then stepped away from the box and blushed cleaning her hands on her apron. Jun was shy but tried very hard to make new friends. She walked over to Tsubame and gave her a small bow. "Hi Im Jun... Im new here too, but its very nice to meet you.." she lowered her eyes and rested her hand on her stomach to stop it from growling. she forgot to eat a proper breakfast before she left and was now paying for it in ernest. She blushed at the sound and went back to the box unloading towels and cups to the table top in neat little rows, set by size and width.