View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Coffee Shop

So, after doing a little code clean-up at home, I head out to the office. I figure I can spend an hour or so getting my ducks in a row before I actually show up at the salt mines, and I know just the place to do it. Panera Bread has some of the best coffee, a nice atmosphere, and phone dial-ups for modems. The play calming classical music, and, when the weather calls for it, they have a gas fireplace going. When I wasn't working, I would sometimes spend whole days there, drinking coffee, then soda, then going out to the Dearly Departed Mediterranean for lunch, and coming back to finish up before class.

Except for this morning. They're understaffed, so I spend five minutes waiting in line between two people who are ordering provisions for the 3rd Division. When I do get to the front, I order a coffee, only to get a cup that looks like it just got back from the 3rd Division. The gals arevery nice about it, apologize, and it turns out that one of them even goes to Daniels, although we've never actually met.

When I return to my computer and the dial-up, I find out that not only doesn't phone line have dial tone, but the couch-and-coffee-table area it looks onto has been commandeered by high school students who are obliterating the music with their conversation about Willie Wonka and cartoons they've drawn. Great. I come here to get out of the house and to get some work done, and instead I get to watch the Breakfast Club live.

If I had a wireless modem I could seek out a Peaberry or a Starbucks, but they're not nearly as nice. Panera tends to buy larger spaces, serve real food, and has larger open spaces and higher ceilings. The music is really important. I like the blues as much as the next guy, but it's a lot easier to work to a Mozart horn concerto than to Frank or Nat King. All of this makes the whole atmosphere much more - civilized - than the other spots. European, but in a distinctly American way. Except when the Breakfast Club descends.

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