If you ever find yourself doing some freelance work, you’ll quickly realise that, whilst working from home does bring many benefits (hello naked bedroom dancing), it also has its disadvantages. Whether it’s the fridge/ the dog/ the lure of naked bedroom dancing/ the fridge again, these constant distractions can mean you end up getting very little work done indeed. As such, it’s a nice idea to do your writing in a local cafe, where the above distractions are either unavailable or not socially acceptable, meaning the odds of doing a bitta tap-a-tap-a-tap-a on the aul’ lappa (laptop) are far higher.
However, being a “cafe lurker” is not all rosebuds and rastafarian tranquility, there are things that you need to consider, and prepare for. Here are what I deem to be the top 3 key considerations to bear in mind when setting out on an expedition of cafe lurking in the name of journalism.
- Being Thrifty
Working from a cafe day in, day out can turn rather costly if you’re not careful, and god knows freelancers are not drippin’ in the gold stuff. So, if you’re anything like me the coffee you buy at the start of the day will most likely be your only purchase over the next 3-20 hours. This purchase, while minimal, will legally enable you to absorb the electricity, gobble up the wifi and digest the general “cafe culture” ambiance for as long as your heart desires, you stingey rascal.
In line with this frugal practice, you’d want to find a place that won’t judge you for chomping on a homemade snack to accompany your hot beverage.
Depending how guts-y I’m feeling (#wehayyywhataplug) my snacks could range from a discreet apple to a full-on dinner. It’s usually best to make it an odourless snack though, I can’t tell you how much hassle I caused for myself that time I brought in a tuna-on-a-stone home kit. The smoke was considerably less subtle than I had hoped and the smell of freshly cooking tuna was, I’ll admit, quite over-powering.
2. Wifi (very necessary)
“Sorry folks, no wifi”
…….NO WIFI??!! Excuse me whilst I splutter and guffaw in absolute outrage. Is this not the 21st Century? The age in which everything is available at our fingertips, whether it be the latest world news, a meal delivery, or a hot date on a Tuesday night?!
Unfortunately this is an all too frequent reality on the cafe-lurking scene, as an increasing number of premises attempt to make a stand against the rapid deterioration of RWC (Real World Conversations) in today’s digitally-bedeviled society. Apparently they want to provide an alternative, calmer, and more engaged cafe experienceblahblahblahblahhhhhh. And it’s no coincidence that these are usually the coolest and most aerated locations too, often pumping out the nicest playlists – i.e. the ideal set-up for a day’s work. Well, here’s what I say to those premises:
“Curse you and your holistic thinking! Because of your resolve to make the world a better place, I may very well be forced to sit in fucking Starbucks for the day! A thousand ingrown toenails upon your children, you life-enriching jerks.”
And don’t get me started on those shhhneaky premises that lure you in with the promise of “free wifi”, only to be informed (always after you make your purchase, might I add) that the wifi is down. Or worse, there are the places that also advertise “Free Wifi!”, but then they say that you need a code to get the wifi, which imparts a single hour of access. It’s as infuriating as Donald Trump’s stupid lips, stubbing your toe, and Crocs, all combined in a Bullet blender by a girl called Tiffy who never stops talking about how much she loves her Bullet blender.
- Location, location, location.
If you’re going to be cafe-lurking for a whole day, where you choose to sit is important. Being near a plug is key, but so too is being near the toilet. Just think about it – you’re there, pummelling away at your keypad like it’s a finger punch bag, only to suddenly get the inkle for a tinkle. You stop. You look up at the toilet sign way over on the other side of the room. You look down at your laptop & belongings. You look back up at the toilet sign. What do you do??
In such a situation I believe you are generally presented with four alternatives:
- There is no one around and you don’t want to lug your laptop and valuables into the bathroom with you, so you make a run for it and hope everything is still there when you return.
- There are people around and you’re too anxious to leave your personals unattended so every time nature calls, you pack up all your stuff and haul it to the bathroom, subsequently exposing it to invisible poo particles and leaping droplets of flushing toilet water… (Welcome to the dark and dangerous reality of cafe lurking).
- There is somebody around but you don’t ask them to mind your stuff whilst you’re gone because you don’t trust them with the knowledge that it will be left unattended for 2-3 minutes, considering how they look like the very type who might swipe it as soon as you scurry off… So again, you revert back to options 1 & 2.
- You ask the most trustworthy (and ideally best looking) person in your perimeter to mind your stuff while you’re gone, and leisurely saunter to the bathroom. This can be followed by a few minutes of lavatory bliss as you enjoy a nice little sit and take the time to admire the bathroom’s impressive roof tiling and your own equally-impressive nail cuticles. At worst, the safe-keeper is now scrolling through your history and spotting your obsession with giraffes, and at best (and in a twist of serendipitous fate), he totally turns out to be your soulmate and two years down the road you two totally have the hottest babies ever.
Just a few things to be aware of, people. Happy cafe-lurking!
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