ESSAY-Why the Awesome Place I Go to Write in Beverly Massachusetts Must Allow Me to Tip Via Credit Card (The Atomic Cafe: an Appreciation)
Most of the time, I neither write in my home, nor in the homes of people who are good enough to have me as a guest. Instead, I write in other places. I’ve written in libraries, diners, waiting rooms, train stations, airports, airplanes, trains, and, recently, a graveyard.
Most of all, I love writing in coffee shops.
I prefer finding offbeat, independent coffee shops. I realize that by having this proclivity I am a living trope. I apologize for being so cliche ridden.
So here I am in Beverly Massachusetts, writing in one of my absolute all-time favorite places, The Atomic Cafe.
I actually just spoke to one of the managers here, because I was irked by the fact that when I pay by credit card, a screen in front of the register asks if I want the receipt emailed to me, but does not ask if I’d like to leave a tip for the baristas. Some people, I know, have a problem with this whole “leave a tip for counter service” thing, but I don’t; I often don’t carry around a lot of cash, and when I pay via credit card, I never feel as if I’m expressing proper appreciation for these folks.
My desire to express this appreciation has to do with the fact that for a coffee place to have a writing appeal for me, the baristas need to be cool in some way. The baristas at The Atomic Cafe certainly fulfill this requirement, and I think some of it may have to do with the fact that Beverly is also the home of The Monserrat College of Art. I’m guessing that at least some of the folks who work here are art students, which means that the whole place has the feel of a coffee shop in the middle of a college town…which, technically, Beverly is.
And the area behind the counter at The Atomic Cafe is this kind of ground zero of coolness that manages to deftly avoid all of the cliches that can go along with this.
There are just so many trope hazards behind that counter, and somehow, all the folks avoid them. Any of the things that they wear could make a lesser person look like a hopeless poseur, but this is not the case at The Atomic Cafe.
Take tattoos. It is so difficult to pull off a tattoo these days, now that everyone wears them. I’ve actually considered getting one, but constantly fear that I will look like an old person (which I am) trying to stay young (which I no longer am) and hip (which I never was).
(I do offer, however, that my tattoo idea, included just below this paragraph, is amusing, considering that I think about getting it the day I retire and embark on a new life as a former librarian, lover of cats, and fan of wordplay:)
The folks at The Atomic Cafe pull off the skill of wearing tattoos and looking cool while doing so without the slightest effort. Such skills allow me to think that this will somehow carry over to my writing and imbue it with a freshness that, if not making me seem younger, will at least lead a reader to conclude that I am aging well.
I also marvel at the ability of the men behind the counter to effectively pull off the almost impossible feat of wearing a manbun. Due to an almost infinite number of keystrokes, millions of billions of trillions and trillions of electrons have lined up inside countless microprocessors to form, on a myriad of computer screens, countless tracts about the negatives of the manbun. I cannot add to them here in The Atomic Cafe; the men proudly wear manbuns and own the style as if they were the first to wear them, and all I can do is look upon them in awe.
And piercings. So many places this can all go wrong, particularly when said piercings do not involve earlobes. No matter…the folks at the Atomic Cafe are masters of this game as well.
This sort of raging coolness even extends to accessories. When others wear the eyeglass frames that these baristas wear, the frames develop the ability to talk and say, to all within earshot “I’m trying way too hard.” They do no such thing as they sit on the bridges of the noses of the baristas here at The Atomic Cafe; behind this counter, they are all perfect.
All I can do is gaze in wonder at these people, bask in the atmosphere, and hope that it will somehow result in having some sort of effect on my usual endeavor of sitting here and typing one letter after another. Perhaps, I muse, such a positive environment will result in some piece of writing worth sharing with other people, such as, say, a piece of writing about how cool everyone is who works at The Atomic Cafe.
Hey, wait…yeah…that’s a good idea. It's also a good idea to reiterate how it's only right that I have the ability to tip them properly.
It is only proper that the owner of The Atomic Cafe reprogram the cash registers so that I can properly pay tribute to these beacons of coolness when I pay with a credit card. They deserve my thanks for helping to make The Atomic Cafe such a great place to write. I owe them proper gratitude, and a proper gratuity as well.