Where is your wireless network?

I’m sitting in your coffee shop. One I’ve visited many times before. I come here because you have great sandwiches and soups, made fresh in the store, every day. I come here because I like the air conditioning when my apartment’s can’t keep up with the summer heat. I come here with friends to chat and enjoy company. And I come here to use your network. I have my own, but sitting in a cave in my apartment holds little appeal for me when I’m interested in getting a few hours of work done.

How the world has changed. I sometimes wonder whether there is a new fluorescence of coffee shops – perhaps brought around because of the lattes and frappes of the Starbucks era, where yuppies could enjoy a pseudo-Italian named drink. Perhaps too the advent of WiFi has changed forever the expectations of people. It’s there and it’s free, a fringe benefit of loitering in a coffee shop.

So here I am, at your establishment. There is soothing classical music playing. People around me are having fun conversation about people they know, and things they’ve done.

But your network is completely down. My laptop can’t even find the merest hint of a hub. Did you turn if off for some reason? Perhaps too many people come here for the network, and not for your soups and sandwiches? They expect to use your network for their pleasure. Some even, I suspect, come to use your network without buying a sandwich or soup.

I am not one of them. If I come to occupy a table in your little shop, I always buy a meal here. I understand that is why you provide the network. And that it is my obligation to you. But now I have a sandwich and soup and I’m frustrated because your network is not to be found.

I could ask why your network is down. I could point out that your routers are offline. But I feel that would be crass of me – crass to admit that I came here to use your network. So I sit here writing this, frustrated at the limitation to my enjoyment of the day.

I’ve paid my toll. And I can’t get on the network. That means I’ll stay here only long enough to finish my sandwich, (though the sandwich is excellent).

And write this rant.

Ah well. I’m off to the laundromat. A couple of hours of watching machines spin, and the tortuous exhaustion of folding clothes and towels and bed sheets await me. I’m not looking forward to that miserable chore. But there is one consolation:

At least they have WiFi.