I am sitting here in a Caribou Coffee as I write this blog post. I arrived a little over two hours ago for chat class and am now playing catch up on emails and such (like blog posts).
Before my niece grabbed my keys and ran out with my car, I asked her to toss me a blog topic. She said “coffee.” I didn’t want to hit up that topic since I have already in the past. You can read that post here.
So I start surfing the web. And look what I stumble on:
No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users
WTF? I mean, they could have written this article about me. Because I have been here for two hours and the only thing I bought was a medium Mint Condition.
And I cannot even tell you how many times I have been here to work a nine-hour day and ran next door to Chipotle and brought food back with me.
[have you had one of their burritos? They are like, the size of a newborn baby.]
I am not certain that I agree with this laptop banning issue. Working in coffee shops is like, my thing. My entire graduate career survived because of my ability to plug in and get writing with the sound of a coffee grinder and music I am not cool enough to have discovered on my own. Coffee shops turned me onto Sufjan Stevens. Kate Nash. Pete Yorn. Massive Attack. coeur de pirate. matt & kim.
Some of my fondest memories are from meeting my best-est friends Trav or Kristen every Saturday, grabbing an open outlet before others monopolized them.
We spent hours here, grading or reading for class. I could not imagine getting any work done at home in my tiny apartment, by myself with all the amenities of home to distract me.
Now that I have moved to central NY, this is my backyard—my house is one of these. (and yes, I brag about it as often as I can):
So you would think that I would never have a need to hit up a coffee shop ever again with a view like this. Which means this whole “no laptop” rule shouldn’t even make me think twice. I get it. I cannot imagine how smaller coffee shops could survive with someone like me there, only ordering one coffee, perhaps a bagel, in a nine-hour period. But then I read this:
At Café Grumpy in Chelsea, Ty-Lör Boring, a 32-year-old chef, says he often uses his laptop at coffee shops, but loves it when there are none around because, then, people talk to one another. “You can isolate yourself behind a laptop,” he says, “but look at this place: Almost everyone is having a conversation.”
I don’t know that working at a coffee shop has ever isolated me. I can’t even count the number of times I have seen community build because of a full day at the coffee shop. I often see people like me, taking up space with a laptop open, hoping to find an empty outlet before the battery dies. We have all commiserated at the amount of work we have to do but we all bonded over the fact that here we sit, in a coffee shop, maintaining a sense of social normality despite our work ethic that has us working on a Saturday or until 11p.
Conversations always start up because there is a shared bond there—conversations I would not be having if I were working at home, alone in my home office. Even when I have houseguests, a coffee shop is still a space we end up in, bringing our work with us and, as always, broadening our community.
As a college professor, I cannot imagine being so far disconnected from the college community that I am not out on Exchange St. ordering a Zebra Mocha from the fantastic ladies at The Coffee House. I love that buzz that happens during mid-term, when everyone is busy and fret with late night studying. Imagine getting through those moments alone, without study groups or an escape from the dorm.
While the student center and library is always an option, don’t you need to know there is life beyond the college property, itself? Living in a college town and you know that you will be reminded that there are others living in your community. And hitting up a coffee shop in a big city is a chance to integrate into larger communities of diversity.
So you go ahead, coffee shop misers, and ban us laptop users from your place of business. But I can pretty much guarantee that my frequent visits for a single cup of coffee probably exceeds what a random customer buying a meal might purchase. Because they might only grace your establishment once or twice every few months but I am there all the time.