This Is Not A Bus Stop

Teenagers are very confused people, so confused in fact that they often mistake our takeaway for a bus stop. At times I feel quite sorry for them because it normally takes them up to 15 minutes to realise that that room with the chairs they’re been waiting in all this time isn’t actually a bus shelter and that a bus hasn’t stopped outside once to take them home.

Like most places my takeaway quite conveniently has a bus stop outside, something of a lifesaver during my schooldays when I had to take the bus to work after school. However there is case of it being a bad thing in that people begin to treat the waiting area in the takeaway as an unofficial bus shelter, and the people who quite often abuse this “privilege” are large groups of teenagers.

They’ll come in here, check themselves out in the mirror making sure that the fake tan is in tact and that they remembered to put enough hairspray in that valley of dead ends caused by more than regular use of a hair straightener, are their trousers low enough. They’ll come and grab a menu and say “oh I haven’t decided what I want yet” and sit down and “read” the menu whilst their cohort of friends (I believe nowadays you’re meant to call it a “mandem”, the word in itself makes me laugh because I immediately think of tandem, and if you don’t know what that is).

(Seriously, I wanted an excuse to just put that video in a post).

Teenagers are funny creatures, we were all teenagers once of course, but as you get older you look at them making fools of themselves, thinking that they own the world and that they’ve somehow outsmarted you. It’s like how I sometimes laugh at “gap yah” kids despite the fact that at one time I went on a similar gap yah-esque type trip and was probably a bit like them.

But anyway back to the takeaway.

At this point I’m sneering at contempt at these teenagers thinking they’re clever and that I don’t know. I got out and ask them “are you going to order anything?”, at which point they go “I haven’t decided what I want yet” pffft.

Of course I know you’re not going to order anything. I’ve seen teenagers like you around. You always come in here at 10pm at night with that swagger of a rebel, grab a menu and gaze mindlessly at the contents pretending to decide what you want, oblivious to the fact that I’ve seen many people like you, I know that all you’re doing is waiting for a bus.

You look a bit lost love, you’re not going to get home waiting in here. If you go out and turn left around the corner, there’s the bus stop, can’t miss it because there is a big shelter and a sign that says “bus stop”. That will get you home, sitting here pretending to order something is not going to get you home, you might even miss the last bus if you hang around long enough.

Now under exceptional circumstances i.e. if it’s raining heavily, then that’s a fair enough reason to double up as a makeshift bus shelter. But what often really irks me is the amount of disrespect that they often show to the owners of the shop and the property.

They just sit there, sometimes they scare other customers from coming in or they make customers feel uncomfortable because there are so many of them, they block the door, they litter the area, they move the chairs around, they argue, they don’t close the door when they leave and then they continue to hang around outside the shop for a considerable amount of time and don’t leave for another 10 minutes.

Customer Encounters #17 – Almost Accepting Stolen Goods

My nine to five job is a journalist, and what journalism can sometimes do to you is foster a sense of paranoia about someone’s behaviour, or sometimes you can be led into overthinking something. Once a pair of boys, both about 11 years-old, came in and asked me “do you need help delivering menus through letter boxes?” I said no for the following reasons:

One, it was around nine o’clock at night and surely most boys at 11 would prefer to go home and watch some TV (or maybe I’m just being old fashioned). Two, it was possible that with all those menus that I could’ve given to them they were probably just going to litter the streets with them. And three they probably wanted to make a prank call because they weren’t actually asking for that many (they were asking for 10 menus and clearly they have not explored the local area enough to know that 10 menus is not enough to cater for the number of houses within walking distance).

How is this relevant? Well the other night someone came in. He had something about him that looked familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I assumed maybe he just wanted a can of coke or diet or 7up, or maybe he just wanted change for a £20 counterfeit note and didn’t actually want to order any food.

He got out his phone (a Samsung S3) and said he needed some help. He said his phone is in Chinese and he wants to change the language settings back into English.

Your first inclination is of course to ask: “ok, well how did you get it into Chinese?”

He simply replied “I don’t know, I just bought it, it just came like this.”

Wait-what? You just bought your phone and it came up in Chinese? Ok then…

“Where did you buy it from? I’m sure the phone shop could help you.”

“Er… ok let me just show you what it looks like…oh it’s ran out of battery…ok I’m going to go and charge it and come back… actually, can I leave my phone here?”

Erm, excuse me? No you can’t leave your phone here, we’re a takeaway not a mobile phone depot.

My mum came out politely said we couldn’t help him and he left and said he would come back.

So a guy comes in with a Samsung S3 with a low battery, he won’t disclose where he bought the phone and it just suddenly decided to set itself into Chinese. The guy then asks if he can leave the phone with you and he will come back with a phone charger. Suspicious? Very.

What if the phone had one of those ingenious apps that takes a picture of anyone who tries to unlock it and send it to the police?

Your first inclination is to think that the phone is clearly stolen. After he left my mum said that she recognised him. Last year one of our customers was arrested and jailed for bribery, it was quite a big local story and was even covered by BBC London. I remember the last time I served him, he swaggered up to the takeaway in the middle of the night with his Ferrari. The fact that he even owned a Ferrari made you raise your eyebrows a little, they’re not exactly a regular sighting, in Kensington and Chelsea yes but not East London of all places.

The guy who just came into the shop? He was the brother of that person who was jailed. Of course it would be silly to paint everyone under the same brush and automatically assume that by virtue of being related to someone who was jailed. Maybe he was after all completely innocent and did just buy the phone off someone and it did automatically set itself to Chinese.

Did he come back with a phone charger? Of course he didn’t.