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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Café Squatters

Café Squatters.
Coffee Shop Campers.
Laptop Hobos. 
The Office Nomad.

Have you noticed them?

Before I get into my rant and need to meet with a random Japanese TV exec or South Korean producer at a local eatery without finding a seat amongst those stealing free WiFi that's included with your $2.65 Venti, let me say first that I have written a screenplay or two at my local Starbucks. 

Guilty as charged.

But today...

Well, today I went into my local Corner Bakery for a quick lunch -- or should I say attempted lunch? -- and wound up wandering around looking for a table. 

None were available.



Because half of the tables have been annexed by local suburban squatters who decided that any place with free WiFi is the perfect spot for an ad hoc Regus office. These "patrons" were done eating...if they ever ate at all. They're simply sitting there rat-a-tat-tatting on their laptops and electronic notepads turning our shared public space into their personal office, oblivious and uncaring that their misplaced multi-tasking has become a public nuisance. 

Ever tried to sit down at a Starbucks these days to enjoy a smooth Christmas Blend and read your New York Times (yes, they still sell newspapers there!)?  You can't find a seat. Why? All of the tables have been claimed in the epidemic known as the Invasion of the Laptops. 

There are two places you should be using your laptop for business or pleasure: work or home. Period. 

Before our mobile society took over, you never saw anyone lugging a manual typewriter into McDonald's or the little café adjacent to your office. No one sat in the booth in the back tapping out letters, homework or their next big idea. So why now? Why are we doing it with a WiFi version of a typewriter?

Some people don't even rent office space anymore. Why bother? Check out the business card from the next consultant you meet for convenience at Coffee Bean. Could it be their address is actually there? 

They made it cool to hang out at the coffee shop all day...sigh.
A majority of the people who squat aren't even working on anything important. They have grown up believing that being seen in public or a laptop conveys intelligence. They want you to believe they are doing some kind of think tank analysis when instead they are watching rejected cat memes on the America's Funniest Home Video youtube channel.  You see these same people constant on their smartphones as well, showcasing they are always in demand.  

We need to strike a deal here. 

No one is saying that you can’t drink your custom crafted espresso delight and mix in a spinach feta wrap, and soak up the bandwidth. You should. I have. however, if you know you’re no longer consuming, you’re essentially using the space as a library. You know what you should do? You should pick up your stuff and relocate to an actual library. The Gods will not somehow forsake your creative juices if you're working on being the next Woody Allen while crafting your screenplay. 

And no, by relocating to a public space that actually has their arms outstretched waiting for you, you’re not sacrificing meeting the love of your life by serendipity on the way to the restroom. Look for your soulmate on your own time. As Jeff Spicoli says, this is "our time."  

So, hit the bricks.