Writing in a Coffee Shop

by Debbie Harris — I can’t write at my house. I won’t focus there-I am too distracted by what needs to be done. (See Foolish Times April 2016 “ The Cleaning Demon.”) To keep myself from being distracted, I write in a coffee shop—The Cherry Bean, to be exact. I am a tea drinker and they have the best offerings of tea, much better than that national coffee shop that’s on every corner. You know, the one that rhymes with Carducks.

My favorite tea right now is Dragon Green Tea, which prompted a man standing in line behind me to ask, “What part of the dragon does that come from?” “The tail,” I responded. I used to drink caffeinated teas, mostly Assam or sometimes Ceylon. I had to stop when, after a nice strong cup, I began typing 120 words per minute—all gibberish.

At the coffee shop I have my favorite booths—a first choice (near an outlet in case I need to plug in) and a second choice, both with cushioned bench seats. My third choice is a table with uncomfortable chairs right across from my two favorite booths. There I sit facing the booths, eagle-eyeing the occupants like a vulture surveying its prey. When an occupant begins to vacate, I pounce. Aaaah, my booth.

One of my favorite booths is by the bean roaster, which is operated M, W and F. When the bean roaster is on, it hums with a grinding sound as the blades rotate stirring the beans on the heated surface. There is a burning smell that emits from the coffee bean roaster that’s alluring and alarming at the same time. It’s as if the machine has been set to find the temperature that makes the beans burst into flames and then backs off a couple of degrees. For a while after the machine is turned off there is a lingering smell of near combustion.

The reason I need a booth is because I’m a high maintenance writer. No thin, little clipboard-sized Mac that fits into a manila envelope for me. I have a laptop PC, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and papers. If you are a writer, you know what I mean by papers –all the papers we’ve jotted ideas on for later development in our writing (unless you type all of your ideas into your phone). I look like I’m a squatter staking claim to a homestead. I keep my papers in a folder, but when I write, I spread them out like I’m putting together a literary puzzle.

There are a group of retired men who gather regularly at The Bean. They read the paper and solve the world’s problems by elder committee. Once I overheard one man saying, “I think we should just bomb anyone who doesn’t do what we want.” That made me glad they aren’t really in charge.

Another important aspect of writing in a coffee shop is using the facilities. At The Bean, there are restroom tokens. Be advised: Just because you have a restroom token doesn’t mean the restroom is unoccupied. Knocking before entering is recommended, at least by me to the people who have walked in on me. Responding to other’s knocks is highly encouraged—again, by me. One time I knocked and heard nothing, so I dropped in my token and entered . . . to find a king on the throne. “I knocked,” I stammered after I apologized. I couldn’t look at him after than . . . even though he later sat at the next table right in my direct line of site. Awk-ward.
So even if your father isn’t a writer, take him to a coffee shop—even the one called Carducks.

And Happy Father’s Day!

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