Types of People Working in Those Free Wi-Fi Places*

I spend a lot of time in coffee joints that offer free wi-fi. It’s where I do the majority of my work. As any freelancer knows, if you’re a mom who works from your physical place of residence, you’re totally screwed. There’s the laundry calling, the counter crumbs collecting, and the vacuum sitting; ain’t no way you’re getting work done with all those distractions. So I leave. Get clear out of the house and sit all day in a Panera, or a Starbucks, or some hole in the wall (my favorite) that serves strong coffee and greasy breakfast sandwiches. All different places with one thing the same: the types of people who sit in coffee shops using the free wi-fi.


Sure enough, no matter where I am, I encounter the following personalities:


  • My work is much more important than yours.

    This is the person with the cell phone ear piece, cords spilling out of every computer jack, plugs in every wall outlet, and the loud voice speaking to his office mates about “ROI” and “paradigm shifts.” Usually this person is wearing shiny loafers.

  • I am a hipster with a cool indie job.

    These people normally come in twos. Both have prominent tattoos, piercings, and black hair with red streaks. Sometimes the guy dresses geeky chic with the oversized glasses and faux bowling shirts, and sometimes the girl wears argyle knee socks with a tutu. Either way, they are way cooler than you.

  • I am pretending to work.

    This person sits in an easy chair and wears headphones, laughs every couple of minutes or so, and accidentally pulls the headphone out to reveal he is watching Office re-runs, or worse, cat p#rn. He gets up often and importantly orders his coffee black. Every now and then, he’ll write something down in a notebook. He wears white socks with black rubber-soled shoes.

  • I am trying to convert the world to my church.

    I see this person in two personas: one, an older man with a younger man, or two, a young good-looking man with a cute girl. In all cases, there is talk of avoiding temptation, while they look obviously tempted. They converse with a fervor usually experienced by those people who camp at the Wal-Mart the night before Black Friday. The older man invariably offers to save the younger man, and same with the good-looking man with the cute girl. If you ask me, it’s all very untoward.

  • I am a start-up.

    This person has his or her laptop placed at an angle so the person next to him or her can see the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s a lot of keyboard clicking and profit rationalizing. Business cards are exchanged. Looks of desperation masked by the possibility of the next big thing abound. Pinstripe shirts are usually involved, but no ties.

  • Unshowered mom-type with hair in some kind of jumbled ponytail-looking thing.

    Further description redacted for reasons of “too close to home.”

  • Shut up. I’m a literati working on my book.

    Again, you got the notebooks, the intent staring at the computer screen, and many times, a jumbled ponytail.


    I wish this person all the luck in the world.


*This post inspired by the husband and wife team at Panera who played their computer chess game out loud while sitting at different tables on either side of me, shouting geek smack (GACK) over my fricken’ unshowered head.


11 Responses to “Types of People Working in Those Free Wi-Fi Places*”

  1. Pretty sure I’d be the person who was so busy checking out all of the people you just described that they get no work done. This is why the vacuum is a safer foe for me.

  2. Crystal says:

    HeHe!!! I’ve totally seen ALL those people at the Starbucks when I bring my laptop there. I’m usually the one with the jumbled ponytail-looking thing. ;)

  3. Mich says:

    Oh man, brilliant, and so, SO true. Love the church convert one. I swear they are everywhere at my fave spot in San Marcos.

  4. Skipping right along, is there such a thing as cat p#rn? That would make me simultaneously sneeze and gag.

    Skipping right along again, I could not be the person talking about avoiding temptation in a coffee place because my mouth would be full of muffin.

  5. Trish says:

    Unshowered mom-type with hair in some kind of ….

    Just add… pretending to be working while really just waiting for the kids piano lesson to be over with, and you nailed me.

  6. kate says:

    I had something clever for the comment section, but then you used the work redacted and I swooned. Now I can’t remember what I was going to say.

  7. Counter crumbs would get me too. That’s why I don’t think I could ever “work from home”. Cell phone ear piece types drive me nutty. Who do they think they are? Robocop?

  8. Mama Mary says:

    Did you say cat p*rn? Good gawd!
    And I am so the unshowered mom type.
    Good luchk with your book writing Deb! I have all the faith in the world in you and your talents. xo

  9. I am now thankful I have a room of my own to work in! You are courageous! And I’d be the unshowered mom, I bet!

  10. Lisa Rose says:

    I saw a guy at Panera who had plunked a 1970s dinosaur-looking computer onto a table complete with tower underneath and full size keyboard. He was all plugged in. The monitor was a gigantic box. Even my young kids were giggling at the sight of it. The man had head phones on (giant ones to match the monitor) and was tuning it all out.

    The few times I’ve tried to work in coffee shops, I spend my entire morning trying to filter out the annoying conversations around me. My ADD brain cannot prioritize and filter in order to get anything done.

  11. MomZombie says:

    I love it! As a fellow coffee-shop dweller, I know all the types.

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