Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Enough

"The downside of everything getting better is that people forget the virtues of just good enough."
James Lileks wrote that today on his "Bleat" at lileks.com. I couldn't agree with this sentiment more. He is specifically talking about coffee today, and I sympathize. I go to J.P. Licks every morning outside my office and I have to order a large Peru. I would like to just order a cup of coffee the way I do at Mike's Donuts up the street. Lileks doesn't need a shout-out from me; the reverse would be nice but unnecessary

I take the Orange Line to Roxbury Crossing and I either get a coffee at Butterfly, located in the station, or at Mike's Donuts a little further up Tremont Street. I don't need to specify what kind of coffee I want at either of these places. I don't particularly care what kind of coffee I get as long as it is hot and black and unflavored. J.P. Licks operates on a different, more newfangled model. I am expected to be a connoisseur at Licks. They have about thirty-wonderful flavors of ice cream and because of that, I suppose they feel they should be offering as many varieties of coffee. I just can't be bothered. Diner coffee is good enough for me.

The staff people at all these places are very nice. The ones at Butterfly and Mike's have worked there a long time (at least in the morning at Butterfly; after the crack-of-dawn shift, art students take over the carafes). The staff at J.P. Licks comes and goes. They are mostly art students also from what I can tell. They are used to persnickety orders. At Mike's you get coffee and you can get a donut if you want one. I just get coffee and the newspaper. Then I cross the street to Mission Hill park to read the paper before I go to work. It's a nice routine, one that is good enough.

My routine wouldn't be made any better with a better cup of coffee and not just because I don't care. I like to sit in the park with Boston's skyline in the distance. I read the Globe or Herald and look up. I gaze north and see the tableau where all I have been reading about takes place. The other day I read a story about a child being shot in Roxbury by the Mission Main apartment complex. I pieced the details together and realized I could see where the tragedy occurred. It was fifty yards away but whatever happened the day before, it was peaceful that morning. There was just a man reading a newspaper enjoying a cup of plain coffee. A city is like that. There are so many fleeting details. Just good enough is good enough most of the time.

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