Invasion of Privacy: Despite life obstacles, Books and Bytes worker exudes positivity

Millie Aten (pictured above) has worked at Books and Bytes since 2011 and is responsible for prepping and serving food. Aten attributes her love for her job to students and her coworkers (Malachy Dempsey/managing editor).

Every Geneseo student can identify the friendly, familiar faces of the Books and Bytes Café. With the convenient location in Milne Library, Books and Bytes provides a place for students to grab a coffee or a quick bite to eat. 

Millie Aten, a Books and Bytes employee for eight years, plays a key role in ensuring that the café runs smoothly each day.  

Aten is a Geneseo local who started working at Books and Bytes in 2011. She enjoys her job, naming the close-knit staff and the importance of providing food to students as her reason.

“I love the staff that I work with . . . I am very close to my staff,” Aten said. “We are like a family, and I absolutely love my students—there is nothing like coming in for you guys.” 

As a senior employee, Aten has many work responsibilities to fulfill. She is responsible for prepping, making and serving the food. Books and Bytes provides meals to many Geneseo students. With students living on campus and spending ample time in the library, they often resort to Books and Bytes for their main food source. 

When Books and Bytes becomes busy—having food rushes throughout passing periods between classes—Aten mainly focuses on serving hot sandwiches. Aten and her coworker Cheryl Stymus work as a cohesive team to ensure they quickly and effectively prepare and serve food to students. 

“Cheryl and I run the line. Our line can be very stressful and hectic, especially during rushes,” Aten said. “Cheryl and I have been working together for eight years now and have become such a great team, we don’t know anything different … at this point we have gotten the line down and are able to thrive through the rushes.” 

Books and Bytes becomes especially active around finals season when students are spending long periods of time in the library to study. 

“We get stressed too, just as the students do, especially during midterms and finals. We know the students are on a time schedule and we’re trying to hurry up and get you out the door,” Aten said. “Students are printing a paper while studying for an exam coming up and ordering a sandwich all at the same time. After students grab their sandwich, they head to take their exam.” 

Aten has recently recovered from a brain injury which has made her job at Books and Bytes challenging at some points. 

“I have had to learn to walk and talk all over again. I have times where my memory is really bad because of short-term and long-term memory loss,” Aten said. “There are times when I really have to work hard to remember the sandwiches. Some days are good and I remember everything, but some days are bad and I can’t remember anyone’s sandwiches and when that happens, my staff really helps me. They are my rock.” 

When Aten isn’t working at Books and Bytes, she enjoys camping, attending the Geneseo Knights’ hockey games and spending time with her three grandchildren.