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Cheap Belgian Beer and Free Pretzels: My Freelance Afternoon at the Map Room

The question “Where’s your office?” borders on the existential for a freelance worker bee like me. There’s a white desk and a lumbar-friendly chair in my dining room, and that’s where most of my writing gets done. But some days I’m a WiFi nomad, chasing the signal all over the city between interviews, tours, meetings, and, yes, cocktails…

Outside at Map Room

The question “Where’s your office?” borders on the existential for a freelance worker bee like me. There’s a white desk and a lumbar-friendly chair in my dining room, and that’s where most of my writing gets done. But some days I’m a WiFi nomad, chasing the signal all over the city between interviews, tours, meetings, and, yes, cocktails.

Monday afternoon The Creative Director and I worked for a while at a friend’s Boston marathon viewing party before moving on to the aptly named Lovely, A Bake Shop. Then we packed our power cords and started heading north—only for TCD to realize he urgently needed to upload some files. We were near the intersection of Armitage and Damen Avenues, and we faced a decision: the Starbucks at Hoyne and Armitage or “I’m pretty sure The Map Room has Internet,” TCD said. As we’d already had a lot of caffeine, and it was technically only 120 minutes until cocktail hour, we went with beer over coffee.

Inside at Map Room
All play, little work: 3 p.m. at the Map Room

We slid onto bar stools, flipped open our laptops, and asked the bartender, Chris, for the password. Monday is $1-off-Belgian-beer day at the Map Room, so I had a Saison Dupont ($7), and TCD ordered a Stiegl Goldbräu ($5), which I liked because it reminded me of apple juice (the menu describes it as “a continental lager perfect for quaffing”).

TCD sighed intermittently while waiting for his uploads to complete, and I stealthily typed notes about everyone in the bar. Here’s what I got:

Bartender on phone answering questions about Saturday’s beer school. Tickets on sale today.

Ponytailed woman to my left orders a martini, an iced tea, and a glass of water—all for self? Asks for lemon, squeezes into tea. Licks tip of each finger. Tries to pay with credit card; it’s a no-go. Map Room only takes cash.

Thick, salty pretzel sticks sit in jars on bar. Someone will invariably ask: “Are these pretzels making you thirsty?” Yep, Chris just said it.

There were 15 people in the bar when we arrived around 3 p.m. and exactly 26 one hour later. The volume was picking up, Chris the bartender was moving a little faster, and when he asked, “Another round?” we responded, “Sure, why not?”

“It’s a Monday!” I exclaimed to TCD. “What are all these people doing here in broad daylight? Doesn’t anyone work anymore?” I turned back to my screen and clicked on a breaking news story, something about proper toppers for the royal wedding. Some of us, you know, are always on the job.

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