THE BLOG
10/29/2014 04:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The End of the Coffee Shop Office

It's been satirized by "Portlandia," mocked by Jerry Seinfeld and Patton Oswalt, and deep down it's probably the bane of coffee shop owners nationwide. It's a syndrome not openly or often talked about in the backrooms of your local cafes. I'm talking about "FOS," or fake office syndrome.

FOS is a serious condition that causes the customer to take a bunch of shit from home and set it up in a four-person booth while he or she spends the next four hours taking advantage of a coffee shop's free Internet. The culprit (savage) justifies this behavior by ordering the cheapest menu item and weaning themselves on it until the last drop of coffee is cold. This time is spent checking email, reading their wall, feed, or worse, working on their script.

I'm guilty of this-- but not egregiously. I know my place. There are ways to get around FOS so it isn't obvious that you're just a Wi-Fi mooch. One trick, and one that I proudly admit to, is to open up a really prominent website on my laptop, scroll to a page where there aren't many pictures, and just leave it open. You can then open new tabs at will as you check your baseless interests, things you don't want other people to know your checking (which is why you're back is to the wall, right?). You're now only a keystroke away to get back to that "news story" should someone accidentally (or if it's me, purposefully) look at your screen. If you want to swipe right like a madman, use your phone.

If you enjoy coffee and free internet then you're probably guilty of FOS. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of organic-fair trade-kind harvested-humanely picked coffee while using the internet. Being social and interacting with people, eavesdropping I mean, can spawn creativity. I can attest to that. Some of my best tweets have been sent from a coffee shop-- but with my phone, not in full desktop mode like this guy.

Enjoying a coffee and a muffin suggests that you only bring your charged laptop. Not your 23" LCD monitor:

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I'd say this is the same guy, but unfortunately, it's not.

If this is you, chances are high that you're probably one of a few thing; an aspiring screenplay writer. Which, in all honesty, I sympathize, because I think I'm a writer, too. Thinking I'm a writer is really the only reason I can justify hanging out in a coffee shop for more than forty-five minutes. Just this morning, in fact, I spent fifty minutes in a coffee shop while writing this (I KNOW. CRAZY!). But I bought two coffees and only used a laptop. I was very mobile and left when my coffee was gone. I DIDN'T FAKE SIP.

This website promotes BYOP. If that doesn't show up in the acronym list it's because the writer made it up out of thin air. It means "bring your own power strip." She also mentions how frequently you should refill that empty cup. A small, of course.

"A polite geek rule of thumb is to purchase a new drink at least every two hours when on a shop's Wi-Fi."

Really? Every two hours? How do your innards not crumble with shame?

In all of humanity there's been one instance in which a writer was actually getting something accomplished while working in a coffee shop. When President Obama unexpectedly sat down with some customers at a D.C. coffee shop, The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer was sitting next to them. So he wrote about it. Bravo. But you there, with your privacy screen. Should I call probation on you?

The dink who writes for this website, brings a cup warmer that doubles as a USB charger. He can then charge his USB vacuum, which he always brings, and why not? (How have I not been using this the whole time?)

The first is the USB Computer Vacuum- a handy little thing if I ever saw one!

SO AGREE! I always find myself asking, "WHERE THE CHRIST IS MY USB VACUUM?"

"This baby will suck those cookie, muffin, and sandwich crumbs right out of your keyboard."

Boy, you really eat like a maniac, huh? This isn't a Christmas dinner, pal. You're there for a latte. Grip reality and then let go for the sake of us all.

"So, between my laptop, my added USB port gadget, vacuum, iPhone, muffin and coffee mug, that typical tiny coffee shop table just won't do. I guess I'll have to wait for the corner table that's the size of an office desk..... I hope that guy leaves soon.... Now where's the power outlet?..."

I hope that corner table works out for you. From the shit that comes out of your laptop, it seems like you should have a backup plan. Just advice.

So let's not abuse coffee shops, please. Most are small, independent businesses struggling to make the ends meet. Remember when we used to sit there and just drink coffee, interact with the cute barista, strike up conversations with regulars. I want to go back to that. Well, okay not really. I actually don't want to talk to strangers. But something like that. You know, I haven't seen somebody in a coffee shop with a book in, like, four years. Although I did see a teenager who was mixing turn tables using two iPads with headphones on that could fit an elephant. And then it dawned on me--half of the population under 20 are DJs. Which means that there's a real possibility that our future president would have at one time in his life been a DJ.

And Wi-Fi is all to blame.