The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

The Cafe Commute

I entered into this summer like an undertrained kamikaze fighter pilot, without a plan and with a little bit of a death wish. I kept meaning to get the kids signed up for classes and activities to keep them entertained, but the month of May… well let’s just say if it wasn’t on fire, I didn’t deal with it in May.

Luckily, I apparently have a fairy godmother who knew I might actually drink bleach* if the kids and I were left to our own devices for too long in the house together, because my sister called me literally on day 2 of summer break to tell me she had signed all three of my kids up for an arts day camp program out of the summer school she’s directing this year. (See, Self, good shit regularly happens to you, too. Make a mental note, you drama queen.)

So the point is, Monday through Friday in June, all three boys are taking stuff like Ceramics and Drawing and Painting and Claymation from 8AM to noon at a high school in Ahwatukee. So far they LOVE it. I love that I get to drop them off to learn and worship at the altar of the arts for a good solid 20 hours a week so I can actually have a cohesive thought regarding work and still feel like I’m a halfway decent mom while I do it. WIN/WIN.

The only downside is that Ahwatukee is a hearty 35 miles from our Northeast Mesa home. It’s not really a terrible drive either way, but it means if I don’t have appointments I need to do my papershuffling/client communication/ridiculous blogging via wifi somewhere close to the school. In the last week I’ve come to know my bagel and coffeeshop options all too well. They definitely have their negatives. I bet you other transient laptoppers can relate.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the 5 suckiest things about working from a coffeeshop:

1. The epidemic of over-airconditioning in the summer.

Like seriously who are they catering to? My husband? Because I already have to deal with his climate control of the car. Must I seriously bring a jacket and socks and boots with me to Starbucks? Or just sit there with blue lips until it’s time to pick up the kids and I can enjoy the blissful oven that is my car?

2. It’s making me fat.

Obviously I can’t just park myself at a bagel shop and use their wifi without purchasing anything. I mean, I probably could, but I’d have to adopt some sort of alternate anti-establishment personality where I don’t worry all the time that people think I’m taking advantage of them or not following the rules. And that seems like a lot of personal brainwashing.

So instead, when I show up I dutifully order a mocha (even though I don’t care for coffee) or a bagel with lox (even though I already had a tiny bag of cheetos for breakfast like an hour ago) so I can justify my butt in their chair for the next three hours. And I can feel those calories collecting on my ass.

3. I feel like everyone can see what I’m working on.

I really hate not sitting with my back to a wall. I feel uncomfortable with people being behind me that I can’t see. I was probably a POW in a past life. I also can’t go pee in a bathroom with a shower without checking behind the shower curtain to make sure no one’s in there first. But that’s just common sense, right?

In a coffee shop, it’s almost impossible to find a seat where someone can’t walk behind you and see what you’re doing on your computer. Not that I’m doing anything weird. I just don’t want you to be able to see.

4. The bathroom issue.

Inevitably, if I’m sitting in one spot for a couple of hours or more with a beverage in my hand, I’m going to have to pee. So how would you handle it? Would you:

A) Fold up your laptop, zip it securely into your laptop bag, put away your yellow legal pad with to-do list, wind up your cord, stow your cell phone, keys and sunglasses in your purse and carry your bags with you to the potty, only to return 3 minutes later, unpack everything and set up camp again?

B) Ask the stranger at the table nearby if they don’t mind watching your stuff for a second while you go pee?

C) Assume people aren’t assholes and the bathroom is 5 steps from your table, leave everything and hurry back?

I’ve done all three. A) makes me look like a paranoid weirdo, but gives me a chance to move outside if I’m so freezing I can’t cope with the AC any longer. B) is ideal, but doesn’t work unless there’s another coffee shop commuter nearby, plus there’s always the chance he’s a dick who will steal my laptop and purse himself. C) makes me VERY VERY nervous. I almost can’t pee. If someone swiped my stuff I’d feel like such a jerk. Sometimes I just only take my purse, like it’s any better that my Macbook Air is just sitting out for people to steal and not the $45 in cash in my purse.

5. I can’t deal with going to the same place several days in a row.

I know people like to have a ‘regular’ place where the people who work there know them and their order and save them their special table. I am not interested in that. If I know people I’ll feel compelled to make conversation. It will be OK the first couple of days, but then I’ll feel like I need to ask them about their kids and hobbies and we’ll discuss movies (because everyone loves Wes Anderson) and TV (did you see SYTYCD last night? Cause I was at dance class and I missed it!) and inevitably I’ll spend half my time every day catching up on gossip and learning who my barrista is as a person. I can’t help it. So to avoid this I’m constantly in search of a new wifi joint. I’ve done Starbucks twice, two different Einsteins, Paradise Bakery and once I even drove 15 miles to my office. I’m sure there’s a different Paradise I can check out and a couple of Wildflowers… pretty soon I’m going to need to put some research into this.

So… those things are annoying. But I’ll figure it out. Maybe I will start bringing sweaters and socks. Do they have wifi at the library? That would solve the food issue, and probably the excessive chatting. At least in none of these places is a child asking me to cut him up an apple, if he can play his DS or telling me that his brother hit him as hard as he could.


*Did you ever see the Nadia Comaneci movie? No, Nadia! Don’t! I was obsessed with her as a kid.

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