I’m not usually one to tattle-tale, especially for such things as trivial as bad service, but recently I found myself in a situation I felt so extreme that I feel it is in the public interest to warn about the shocking treatment I experienced at a local cafe, CAFE LOUI, in the Infrastructure building in the city interchange.
Two weeks ago, while escaping the cold of a half hour bus wait in the Canberra wind, my girlfriend and I ventured into Cafe Loui to grab a flat white and a chai latte (both some of the best I’ve experienced in Canberra) and had a fantastic time. On the way out I stopped to compliment the lady behind the counter and ended up happily chatting away for ten minutes or so and leaving with a big smile on my face and a new mission to source my next caffeine hit from my new favourite coffee house. No problem there.
Fast forward a week to last Tuesday afternoon on the 14th of July, as I found myself alone at the same bus stop with an equally chilly wait, having just powered down my food court lunch and sprinted to the interchange only to see my bus turn the corner and drive away. Having a book to read and a very full stomach, I remembered the friendliness of the Cafe Loui staff/owners and ventured into the closest cafe once again to see if they might let me sit inside for a while and read, without ordering a coffee. Luckily, the cafe (which is located in the foyer of a government department building) was all but deserted, with at least 20 tables completely empty and less than ten people in the whole foyer, so I sat down and was instantly approached by a waitress to take my order. I politely asked if it was OK that I sat and didn’t order, as it was very cold outside and there is plenty of room. I was surprised when instead of an answer, she gave me a worried look and told me to wait while she got the manager of the cafe. Expecting a polite refusal, I sat and waited.
The manager of the cafe (who I can only assume is Loui) approached my table with a friendly smile and inquired as to what I will be ordering today. I repeated my request, explaining my reasons and asking if it was OK, fully prepared to leave and find somewhere further from the stop to sit and wait. Instead of a polite refusal (as would be expected from the manager of a public cafe located in a government building), what I recieved was a smug smile and a very unfriendly stream of insults, sarcastic comments and harassment, being asked “I don’t come into your house, put my feet up on your couch, flick through your magazines and act like I own the place, do I?” and instead of being asked to leave, was asked “Who the hell do you think you are?”.
Shocked and offended, I reacted in a not-so-favourable way and stood up, grabbed my bag and, as calmly as I could, told him that all he needed to do was say no and that he “didn’t need to be a prick about it”. I admit I shouldn’t have insulted the man, but what came next I was definitely not prepared for. He leaned in and with the same smile on his face, quietly and calmly told me (among a stream of f-words and other insults) that he was going to:
“get a f*cking rifle, find out where you f*cking live and shoot you with a f*cking rifle.”
Completely shocked, horrified and now a bit scared, I immediately went to the nearest table where a middle-aged woman and a late-teenage male were sitting and asked them in complete shock whether they heard the threat that was just made on my life over a cup of coffee. I was then even more shocked to realise that the woman was the same one I had chatted to happily the week previous, and I can only assume the young man was related or an employee, as the male jumped out of his seat, stepped towards me and told me:
“That’s my guard (?) c*nt. I’ll f*ck you up.”
I took a step back and headed for the door before he could follow up on this second threat to my well being, and was guided out the door by the woman and told I’m not welcome there any more, go somewhere else next time. I sat in a state of shock at the bus stop for the remaining twenty minutes and, as I eventually got onto the bus, turned to see that Loui was standing at the window of the cafe, phone to his ear, smile on his face and, just to top it all off, he blew me a kiss.
I got home and immediately called and reported the incident to the police, the newspaper and the department of the government building that the cafe resides in. Since then I have been told by the police that because the only two witnesses were also involved in the incident that there’s nothing that can be done, that the newspaper would follow it up and that the department doesn’t directly hire the cafe employees, so there isn’t anything that they can do either.
So, armed only with the truth I put it into the public forum, has anyone else experienced anything as completely insane as this? Surely a prominent cafe owner in a busy government building doesn’t just decide to threaten someone with death out of nowhere, there must be others with similar stories and I invite those people to leave comments. And even if there isn’t, surely there has to be something that can be done, witnesses or not, about a cafe that operates under the policy that threats are OK, as long as no-one’s around to back the victim up when they report it to police.
I admit I shouldn’t have insulted the man, but up until then I had been nothing but polite, and he did insult me first only he was careful not to use swear words in his attack. Which is a lot easier to do when you haven’t just been ambushed by someone who seems outwardly friendly but quite clearly isn’t.
Should I be shot with a rifle or attacked by youths in the near future, you know who to ask.