The WSJ has an interesting article about coffee shops in New York – specifically Brooklyn – that have banned laptops. I cannot think of a better rule, and if caffeine makes you smart, perhaps the baristas in Los Angeles will follow suit. When I walk into a coffee shop and every 4-person table is taken by one motherfucker who brought a laptop, his own teabag and paid for a cup of hot water… and then SAT THERE FOR FOUR HOURS… I want to frisbee his 13″ Dell into oncoming traffic.
I say this knowing full well that I was that guy in the late ’90s. I wrote the first draft of two entire screenplays at a coffee shop off Beachwood Drive in Hollywood, because I hated my house and I had one of those tangerine iBooks. In my defense, this was before the days of wireless internet, and coffee shops had yet to explode into the cultural phenom they are today. Even now, I will occasionally open a laptop at a coffee joint, but that happens twice a year whenever I’m waiting for Tessa.
There are two times a laptop should be allowed in any coffee/eating establishment: when there’s nobody else there, and when there’s an actual bar-like situation, meaning stools that only allow you to take up one seat. Oh, and if the coffee shop in question is a national chain. Other than that, people who hijack tables with their computers are nothing more than goddamn parasites, draining both bandwidth and money from the establishment they frequent.
5% of men who work on laptops at coffee shops do so because working at home is infeasible. The other 95% do it because they want to put their penis inside someone else. You know it, they know it, and the struggling owner of an independent coffee shop knows it as they turn away customers because there’s nowhere to sit. How about this, laptop people: pay for your own internet at home, and STAY there. And if you come to a coffee bar, bring a book and order lattés while you pretend not to stare at someone’s tits – at least that way, the owners can make rent.
I know this rant puts me in “crusty old fuck” territory, and besides – in a few years, it won’t be laptops, it’ll be the iPad, flexible color Kindles, iPhones with holographic images and a Complete Awareness Machine called THE YouORB™. By then, the internet will be ubiquitous and beamed from the sky, making the idea of an access point inside a coffee shop as quaint as a lamplighter.
That’s fine, but in the meantime, you laptoppers gotta quit hogging all the tables and actually spend some money at a local establishment. You could even try talking to people – we used to do it in a place called “college”, and as I recall, it went pretty well.