Good distractions and bad distractions

starbucksSometimes I like to work in coffee shops. Spending too much time alone in my office back home can leave me bushed. It’s also true that some cafés, at least, offer just the right type of distraction. The establishments I favor tend to have regular appearances of eye candy upon which I might rest my weary eyes — much like a nanny app that keeps me looking away from my computer the way I’m supposed to, warding off the dreaded “computer eye syndrome.”

But resting my eyes this day proves a challenge. The woman at a table across the aisle holds a baby that doesn’t look old enough to have gone over the wall at the maternity ward. She fusses with it looking nearly as pleased as if this item were the latest iGadget from Apple. The same mother also has a toddler who gets down off his chair from time to time to march around squeaking loudly in squeaky shoes, thereby eliciting admiring smiles from his mother but not from me. A couple of Thai women also beam at him every time; mind you, Thai women reflexively dote on anybody less than a meter tall no matter what other qualities that individual might display.

Meanwhile, farther along against the wall opposite, we have two women, one of them from the Whitney Houston school of conversation and in my  opinion more suited to calling hogs, preferably in some Midwestern American cornfield far removed from here. And at the table just in front of me, a beautiful Thai woman is interviewing a beautiful Indian woman for a job in art management or something. They both speak immaculate English, the Indian much too loudly, maybe to compete with the Whitney Houston clone. No doubt infected by years of art studies in countries around the world, she also waves her arms about until you have to look closely to make sure she isn’t in fact Italian. As they both became progressively more enthused by things artistic, the Thai, who has also studied abroad, becomes uncharacteristically animated, given her native cultural background, and this appears to incite the Indian job applicant to ever greater heights of gesticulatory excess, which in turn has a reciprocal effect on her putative employer till the two of them together suggest an outbreak of epidemic epilepsy. This is all pretty fascinating, nearly impossible to ignore, and eventually I get to thinking that working at home isn’t as bad a prospect as it first seemed. So I chug my tea and hit the road.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Sara keeps telling me these joints aren’t built merely for my own pleasure, and there’s no rule that says everyone has to conform to my specs of what’s fittin’ and what ain’t. I have my own office at home, where I can be as disagreeable as I like without encroaching on the happiness of others. I know.

squeaky shoesAnother time things went wrong.

Another reason I sometimes work in coffee shops is that it’s cool, eh? 


The squeaking soon cast a pall over the café.”  Vincent Van Gogh, Night Café, 1888.  Oil on canvas, 2′ 4 1/2″ X 3′.  Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark)

cafe van gogh

“Cool people awaiting  the invention of the MacBook Pro.” Benny Andrews (1930-2006) New York Cafe, n.d., lithograph, 13 x 17 1/2 in., 1986.

cafe ny