Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Decaf and potential

Another afternoon with the sign on my laptop, this time at the Atomic Café in Beverly. I was here just a couple of weeks ago to write a Trazzler trip, and the place has a good vibe. I was hopeful that some of the friendliness would result in contacts—and votes.

Most of the tables were occupied when I got my coffee, but there was one open for me. A couple of moms with kids, a young guy with a laptop, a woman with a newspaper, and another young woman with a book sat around me. A pair of men possibly talking work stuff and a woman sat at a couple of the booths. A few people came in for to-go orders and then tables changed over. Several furtive glances at the sign. Nothing more.

Trying to develop the Twitter habit, so I tweeted about being at the café. @sams_stuff

Like the day before I worked on the revision of a short story I hope to send out to a literary journal this month. Making optimal use of the time camping out. The background bustle reminds of working in a newsroom, but writing in cafés is new to me. 

I got a lesson in the etiquette of laptop users in public places: If you need to get up to fetch a coffee refill or use the restroom, go ahead and ask someone nearby (preferably another computer user) to keep an eye on your equipment.

A man sitting by the door leaned over and asked if I’d watch his laptop for a minute. I agreed, and he got up. Finally, an opportunity—when he returned, I’d ask for a favor in return and tell him about the contest.

Just then, the door opened and a woman stepped into the café. I knew her—a former coworker from years ago when I worked at a local independent school. We struck up a conversation, and she sat down at my table while she waited for her sandwich order. While we were chatting, the man returned to his laptop, and I missed the chance to reach out to him (he left a short time later). But, I told Carolyn about the contest, gave her the info, and she said she’d pass it along to other folks at the school.

That’s a batch of potential votes—can’t count them yet, of course.

Just as Carolyn was leaving another friend walked in. Dawn is also a writer, so we talked shop. She teaches writing at Montserrat College of Art, whose galleries I also recently wrote about for Trazzler. Her students are another batch of potential votes—with any luck they’ll empathize with another writer’s aims.

While it wasn’t a successful day as far as reaching out to strangers went, it was a great one for catching up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while. This exercise is full of surprises.

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