"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.