{Free Best} The Customer is Always WrongAuthor Mimi Pond – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

A young woman's art career begins to lift off as those around her succumb to addiction and alcoholismThe Customer is Always Wrong is the saga of a young naive artist named Madge working in a restaurant of charming drunks, junkies, thieves, and creeps Oakland in the late seventies is a cheap and quirky haven for eccentrics, and Mimi Pond folds the tales of the fascinating sleazeball characters that surround young Madge into her workaday waitressing life Outrageous and loving tributes and takedowns of her coworkers and satellites of the Imperial Cafe create a snapshot of a time in Madge's life where she encounters who she is, and who she is notEmploying the same brash yet earnest style as her previous memoir Over Easy, Pond's storytelling gifts have never been stronger than in this epic, comedic, standalone graphic novel Madge is right back at the Imperial with its great coffee and depraved cast, where things only get worse for her adopted greasyspoon family while her career as a cartoonist starts to take off

10 thoughts on “The Customer is Always Wrong

  1. David Schaafsma David Schaafsma says:

    When I got this book at the library it had a “Chinese” fortune left in it as a bookmark, or as I prefer to think of it, as a personal psychic message intended for me, possibly a key to the very story I am reading. It reads:


    So true, I think! But I’ll get back to this later.

    My mom helped get me a job when I was in high school (1969-72) at Schensul’s Restaurant in Eastbrook Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan:


    It didn't feel as bleak as this photograph has it. I was hired there as a sous chef (nah, I was officially a “second cook” because it was a mall restaurant, where they really don’t have anything as fancy as a sous chef. I was an assistant to the head cook and worked there for a couple years). It was a socially significant experience for me, for sure, and maybe for all of us!

    I, this shy boy who had never dated before then, connected socially with a range of kids, and got invited to weekend drive-in movie nights (1970-72) on 28th Street. Boys and girls together in cars, sometimes watching B movies (I recall Vincent Price’s “Premature Burial”), drinking cheap wine (I had had no experience with this until then! Boonesfarm, which you could maybe get for 79 cents a bottle then, maybe less), eating jumbo bags of cheese popcorn and peanut M n Ms and . . . learning to “make out”. So much fun. I couldn't believe my luck, this skinny freckled curly-haired boy, with big ears! Formative life experiences for all of us, obviously. Some of us began to date each other. Some of us went camping together! Oh, and we loved to make fun of the customers, banding together against them.

    Mimi Pond, a few years younger than me, publishes her second volume documenting (in somewhat? very? fictionalized fashion), the time in 1978-1982 she waitressed at the Imperial Café in Oakland, CA, which was WAY hipper than Schensul’s, and still is. Over Easy was her first book about this period, and I liked it a lot, it was mostly an episodic crazy tale of the seventies I could relate to as a person of similar age. She wasn’t a teenager, though; she was in her early to mid twenties. (So it’s a story of more than just making out and Boonesfarm wine, let’s just say).

    With comedy writing and humorous comics background, Pond knows how to entertain us, and can most of us relate to her story? Sure, we all have worked jobs like that, and some of us still do. With annoying/amazing co-workers. Pond waitressed as she developed her art. And decades later, she contacted people who were working with her then, and incorporates many of their stories into these books.

    The central focus of the present book is Mimi/Madge’s friendship with Imperial manager and philosopher-poet Lazlo, who is the ballast for all of the drugged-out crazies in this late seventies story. In a lot of the stories Lazlo is bailing his workers out of trouble, taking them to clinics, taking care of them in various ways. We see Lazlo doing this time and again with Mimi/Madge.

    This is a long but never (for me) tiring book about Mimi’s life at this time, and the world of drugs and beer and sex and music and bad relationships and madness and hilarious weird characters swirling in and out of the Imperial restaurant universe. And it is dark at times, and scary, but it also has very sweet moments, and turns deeply touching in ways that surprised me. No spoilers here. Pond knows how to tell a story, she knows how to make us laugh, she knows how to make us care about a range of people.

    Side note: Mimi Pond was a writer on the very first Simpsons episode! She published her early cartoons in The National Lampoon, a great satire mag of the time. So in this volume we see more (than in Over Easy) of Pond working on her art with the aim of sending her stuff out for publication and eventually moving to New York. I loved this story and want it to continue. I have a feeling this might be the end of it, though.

    In the end, the above Panda Express fortune is actually one important theme of the story, as Madge leaves the restaurant, self-sufficient, having gained some foundation of self-confidence. You get the feeling she will never be lonely!

  2. Melki Melki says:

    . . . if I pay attention, every day is full of marvels.

    This book continues the story that began in Over Easy, as Madge, and her coworkers/cohorts at the diner find themselves in scrapes too numerous to count. I laughed, I cried, and I even shuddered as Lazlo and Madge went searching for Lazlo's missing 14-year-old daughter in Oakland's seamy scary underbelly.


    Makes me wonder what happened to all the people I used to work with . . .

  3. Julie Ehlers Julie Ehlers says:

    I remember Over Easy as being pretty lighthearted. This was much darker, with almost nonstop action. I was riveted while reading and now feel vaguely unsettled.

  4. Fabian Fabian says:

    A person wholly faithful to novels would have easily missed spectacular masterpieces--all painstakingly put together in blocks, with cartoons and images which speed up the narrative (if there even is one!), which economize by using drawings instead of words (and there are words, too [and then just think for a moment just how important those word bubbles or captions truly are, when wordy writers simply get away with!]

    Anyway, this time The Customer is Always Wrong is the right one! As in, brilliant, a masterpiece, and... a work that could only have been put together in this way.

    The setting is a restaurant bar, the protagonists are denizens, wait staff, bosses, of said establishment. And that it genuinely rings true is no joke: they even have a gay speed freak dishwasher! pregnancies, first loves/hardcore crushes, drugs, sex, and very many funny things occuring to blue-black-white characters. It is hard not to fall for them, to recognize many as Important, other Trivial. The sweetheart is Laslo, who rightfully states Everyday is full of marvels. Everythign is struggling to be part of the story. Notice how these cute pictures... come alive!

  5. Elliot Cowan Elliot Cowan says:

    The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond is the exceptionally good follow up to Over Easy, the adventures of waitress and artist, Madge.
    In a world where we're constantly being fooled into watching or reading or listening to some manufactured nonsense, The Customer Is Always Wrong is a dose of honest, super classy, no-bullshit, storytelling and cartooning.
    It's smart and touching and relatable and everyone who loves stories about life and real people should read it.

  6. Krista Regester Krista Regester says:

    The Customer Is Always Wrong is an unexpected love story: a rocky relationship between that town and job that you just can't seem to leave even though it's sucking the life right out of you. This book does a great job showing that there may never be a right time to start the next chapter of your life. Illustrations and conversations were addictive, just like the characters.

  7. Mari Mari says:

    Fuckin-A this book is brilliant.

  8. Hannah Garden Hannah Garden says:

    ExcUSE me but this is a MASTERpiece.

    Holy frijoles truly a new gold standard.

  9. Truman32 Truman32 says:

    Cartoonist and illustrator Mimi Pond’s The Customer Is Always Wrong is a graphic novel billed as a “fictional memoir based on personal experiences of the author.” I suppose that was put in there so Pond is not James Frey’d by Oprah on national television for any added artistic flourishes. Oh, and it is fantastic. Like a cross between Charles Bukowski and the motion picture Empire Records, The Customer Is Always Wrong will have you wondering why exactly you care so much for this ragtag crew of dirt bags.

    The action takes place at the end of the 1970’s in Oakland California at the Imperial Café (based on Mama’s Royal Café coffee shop, an iconic institution for the area). The staff, led by the waitress and struggling humorist Madge, is young and full of hopes and dreams and lots and lots of cocaine. Everything rings true—the characters can be maddeningly self-absorbed and selfish, but also funny and caring. There are moments that sneak up on you then punch you unapologetically in the ticker leaving you gasping and wondering how on Earth did that happen.

    The Customer is Always Wrong is riveting. It’s rough and funny and unpleasant and heartfelt. In other words, it’s messy just like life.

  10. Raina Raina says:

    Over Easy felt very contained within the diner. This one broke out of that and spread into Oakland.

    I always appreciate a view into someone else's life. And this definitely satisfies the voyeur in me (though technically fiction, this is clearly barely veiled autobiography).

    Pond's work is accessible, the story is well-told, and the aesthetic of her art is consistent.
    That said, there were some moments that seemed unnecessarily racist and/or transphobic (pages 71, 79, and 97 stood out). I know she is depicting a different time, but she's already selecting only parts of the past to tell, so why include those bits without addressing them constructively?

    I love the way she gets at the nitty gritty, though, so I'll probably continue to read whatever she puts out.