Have you ever been to Starbucks and wondered “What the heck are all these people doing, hunched over their open laptops?” They look so serious, don’t they? Like they’re figuring out a plan to reduce the U.S. deficit? Some are noisy, talking on their cell phones or Bluetooths. (And why isn’t the plural of Bluetooth, Blueteeth?) I once went to a Starbucks where a woman was having a conference call—her phone on speaker, with the volume turned to eleven. (For you Spinal Tap fans, you know that eleven is damn powerful.)
Sometimes, it’s obvious what the “customer” is doing. If she looks to be twenty years old, then she’s probably a student. I know I know, there are many middle agers who return for another degree and may write her one hundred forty page thesis from the less-than-comfortable wooden chair, sticky table, near a milk splattered condiment counter.
But who are all the others? What are they doing, setting up office, from 8am till noon, occasionally glancing up at the line of people, women with cumbersome strollers, and nannies with toddlers drooling and screaming over the glazed donuts? How do these space-stealers even concentrate?
Well, I decided to be one of those people.
As a writer, I usually work from home. But since I had a few days left of summer and the kids were home, asking for rides, sleepovers and complaining about emptying the dishwasher and summer reading, I decided to be a Starbucks space-stealer for a day, well, a morning. Besides, I have my own issues with home-distractions. Teenagers, and every five minutes or so I’ll think, “Maybe I should check my email” or “Oh, it’s eleven fifty-nine, time for lunch,” or if the phone rings, “I better answer since it could be important, the dentist confirming my root canal appointment.”
I kissed my dog goodbye and went off to work at my own little non-cubicle at one of five Starbucks within a ten-block radius. I purchased a large drink and found a table next to another person with an open laptop. Before long I wondered what all these people did with their laptops when they had to go to the bathroom. Did they bring them into the W.C.? And once there, where did they put them? There is rarely a purse hanger on the door, let alone a laptop table in the bathroom. I leaned mine up against the door, sure to wipe the bottom clean before exiting.
I did get some work done. But after two hours I was ready to go home. It was getting too cold for me; they blast the a/c as though we were in Palm Springs. (See prior blogs about other a/c gripes.) Besides, my meter expired and I didn’t want to get a parking ticket for being a Starbucks space-stealer.
It was time to let the next person usurp a seat till closing.