Hey freelancer! Recognise these guys from the coffee shop days?
Eish. I miss the coffee-shop-hop. Back when, as freelancers in search of ambient noise and caffeine, we’d find our favourite places and build relationships.
We’d choose preferred tables, menu items and waiters and over time, people would begin to know us by name.
Those days have been gone for a while, but here’s a reason why I can cope with that. Okay: 6 reasons. The 6 personas who make coffee-shop-hopping suck.
You know who they are; you’ve engaged with them before. So here I name (and hopefully shame) each member of the Coffee Shop Mafia.
Vinnie / The public Zoomer
Coffee shops are a haven for tech types and creatives, but forget the age of information – this is the age of over-share. You can usually block everyone out. Until…‘ding!’ – a Zoom call. And then, ‘Tannie, you’re muted. No, Tannie, I can only see your nostrils.’ 20 minutes later: ‘Here Rusty, bark for me… c’mon boy, woofles!’ Vinnie, serial Zoomer, will subject you (and everyone else) to a public call.
Donatella / The general offender
She’s dreadful. She spreads her stuff everywhere, talks too loudly on her cell, clicks her pen like she’s got some sort of syndrome, insists on using an ancient laptop that requires noisy stabbing of the keys, and beckons the server by clicking her fingers. Donatella’s a pain. And you know from being a regular (who asks leading questions of the waiters) that she never, ever leaves a tip. And steals the sweetener.
Alfredo / The chatterer
The Deadline. It’s all you can think about. You don’t have time to chitchat. With anyone. Not even the waiter serving your ciabatta. Until, ‘…Is that your sandwich? That looks good. Is it good? Do you want to share?’ To your horror, Alfredo – an unsolicited chatterer – has sidled up. ’I love sandwiches. Did you know I’m a doctor? I’m a doctor who likes sandwiches. What are you doing? Your hair is nice.’
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Luigi / The over-the-shoulder-reader
As a soloist, you know your work is done when whatever-it-is is finished. Until then, it’s a masterpiece in progress and no-one – no-one – is allowed to see it. Much less the leering gargoyle Luigi, who you don’t know from Luisa, but who peers at your screen behind you and occasionally comments on what you’re doing. ‘Oh, you’re a developer? That’s exciting! I developed some photos once; can I watch you?’
Gigi / The street artist
When someone takes a surreptitious photo of you, you can tell, right? Especially when there’s zooming in. Now imagine you’re sitting at a table, banging away at some important endeavour, when some weirdo starts to gaze at you. Meet Gigi. She’s not admiring your profile and composing love songs; she’s drawing you in caricature. Or warping your face on an app. Or enlarging your mammoth zit for her Instagram.
Franco / The plugpoint-hogger
You feel eyes on you, but you shrug it off as paranoia. Then, glancing up from your keyboard, you notice hippie Franco (complete with tofu stuck in his face fluff) staring hungrily at your feet. You escape to the bathroom and on your return, Franco’s hard at work on his laptop. Thank goodness. But within 20 minutes, your computer has shut itself down faster than a Japanese nuclear reactor. Franco, that half-baked wookie, wasn’t stalking you (or your feet). He was hunting the plug point.
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