The Adventures of Atomic Adam, TQP0002

Posted: May 6, 2008 in Adam Lipschutz
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posted by Adam Lipschutz

I am pleased to announce that I am once again a part of a crew. I just received an e-mail confirming this and I am absolutely beside myself with joy over it. Specifically it is the barista crew at the “Java Jazz.” Or “Jazz and Java.” I’m not sure what we’re called, exactly, but I am sure that I’m a crew member there.

Actually, I’m the assistant manager. Now–you would know this if you had been closely monitoring my personal life over the past couple of years–I actually have experience in the role of cafe assistant manager, but the only other time I played the role the title was largely ceremonial. That is to say I didn’t have any real duties beyond those of any other employee. I was assistant manager chiefly for these two reasons:

1. I had worked there longer than anybody, including the manager.
2. The manager thought I was the most attractive.

I suspect both reasons weighed about equally in his decision to make me assistant manager. But I am quickly learning that this “Jazz” place actually expects me to do stuff as assistant manager. While none of my sub-managerial duties ever present an above average challenge for any competent person, they do often carry with them a catastrophic cost for failure.

For example: I recently was asked to remind a coworker to bring in a certain legal document—a document that if we could not present it, the County Board of Health would permanently shut us down.

It feels good to be part of a crew again. I had been sending out applications to join all sorts of crews over the last four months. I even drove down to Delaware after a crew of Mad Scientists showed interest in my joining them. This is absolutely true. Mad Science is a group out in Wilmington, Delaware that runs these science demonstrations for Elementary School assemblies. I saw their recruitment poster while waiting for a meeting. The poster said they needed performers so I called them up and they asked me to meet them at this school in Delaware.

I arrived in Delaware and met with the head of the company, a fiery Middle-Eastern man whose real name I forget, but he introduced himself to everybody as Dr. T. Because I was several minutes late, the next few details occurred quite hastily, but he shook my hand, pointed to his white “Mad Science” van and told me to open the back hatch find a lab coat and pair of safety goggles, put them both on, and then go around to the school office and register for a security badge. I did this, figuring that, eventually, everything would become clear.

In the office I tell them that I want a security badge, and they tell me to type my name into this computer terminal. This was an elementary school computer, so it was only a few feet from the ground. I had to look almost straight down to see the screen.

I look straight down, and all of a sudden I’m looking at my own image. Some kind of powerful, futuristic camera had been perched above the screen, and it had taken my picture while I was distracted by the bizarrely low computer. They printed my badge: it looked like me, in a lab coat and goggles, staring curiously at the floor.

Having completed the tasks set to me, I returned to Dr. T who had already begun setting up the auditorium, which was also the cafeteria. There was not very much for him to set up. He laid out a few bottles on a table draped with a black “Mad Science” cloth, he did a cursory inventory on the contents of a trunk that he kept under the table, and then a quick mike check.

Finally, he comes up to me and says, “Adam we at Mad Science like to have Mad Science names. Have you by any chance thought of one?” So I tell him that I hadn’t yet but would soon come up with one. He asks me how I would feel about being called “Atomic Adam” until I had come up with a name for myself.

Next thing I knew, a woman had started to approach us–before she could say anything Dr. T announced vigorously, “I am Dr. T, and this is my assistant Atomic Adam.”

“Um, hello. I’m Janet.” She replied and shook both our hands. Apparently she was the head of the PTA and the entire reason why we were there at all, and so Dr. T was eager to make a good impression. After I got him to assure me that my job was only to watch the show, he began his performance. It was a pretty straightforward operation–one that is prepared for most “surprises” that an elementary school audience might give a visiting Mad Scientist. And for a man who says he’s more doctor than performer, Dr. T seemed pretty confident working an audience. He did two shows: one for the 2nd grade and one for the 5th, and he used the same joke in both. Its punchline was, “…but in order to do that we would need a HUGE fire and that would burn down the whole school.”

The second graders immediately grasped the urgent nature of why we shouldn’t do this. The fifth graders unanimously celebrated the idea.

After that I returned to my house and never heard from Dr. T or Mad Science ever again.

No matter, I like this crew better, even though I hardly see any of them. Still I know that they do a good job. They lock everything up safe at night–which is actually a little silly, because the whole thing is on wheels. A thief could literally make off with the entire store, presuming he devised some way of efficiently steering it.

But the real reasons why I like being part of this crew is that the customers tip generously, and I am given more smoothies than I could ever possibly drink. The smoothie recipes call for more smoothie than we’re actually supposed to serve, so every order has a little runoff, which I keep for myself in a cup next to the cash register. I start it with the first smoothie order, and just keep collecting all morning long. No matter how dissimilar each smoothie is I just keep mixing them. Each sip from my little cup feels like a mouthful of assorted jelly beans. I keep drinking smoothie runoff until it makes me nauseous. This usually happens at about 10:30.

The customers tip me generously because most of them are doctors. (I forgot to mention that the cafe is inside a hospital.) They tip me because not only do I make a very good latte, but I also provide them each with about fifteen minutes of personal company with a man who is not sickly, bleeding mysteriously, or just plain pissing the wrong color. I think doctors appreciate that, and I am happy to serve them in either capacity.

Comments
  1. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Baristas are fundamentally hot. It must be that way, as it’s their duty to spread beatnik intellectualism…and everyone knows that when hot people say things, they will always appear smarter than non-hotties. I’m also impressed to hear of the infiltration of hospitals by the underground coffee-house scene. Rough up the establishment.

  2. Farty Girl says:

    baristas always piss me off. they’re snotty if you don’t use the exact lingo, and they charge extra for soy milk, which for a lactose intolerance person, is like charging a bleeding person for a band aid. here’s to you not being one of those baristas. 🙂

  3. Threat Quality Press says:

    As a general rule, I (Chris), do not approve of people whose job it is to make things complicated.

    This puts me on poor terms with many baristas.

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