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The Laptop Dilemma

As a pastor I meet people and do a lot of work in coffee shops. While there, I work on my laptop and use the free WiFi. Also, I love coffee and drink as much of it as I can. All of these elements leads to a combustible situation. Here is a funny article from Lore Sjöberg in Wired Magazine concerning the dilemma when all those things collide.

"I love internet cafes. Given that my job requires hours of sitting and typing, sitting and drawing, or sitting and procrastinating, a change of scenery is welcome, allowing me to be around people without actually having to interact with them, listen to them or acknowledge their existence beyond sharing a power outlet. To me, a cafe is like a large desktop image that dispenses caffeinated beverages and scones.

However, as any science-fiction writer can tell you, with any new technology come new problems. What do I do with my laptop when I have to use the bathroom?

Solution 1: Leave it there on the table Yeah, great idea. I'll just throw my credit cards and loose change on the table, too, maybe carve my Social Security number and bank password into the wood to maximize the convenience of anyone who wants to ruin my life. 

Solution 2: Ask the person next to me to keep an eye itIt's not that I think the guy next to me is going to steal my laptop -- he's already got one, and his is generally nicer -- it's just that I don't think he's going to do a damn thing if a desperate-looking hood and/or thug walks right up and grabs my iBook. Hell, if he's like me, he won't even notice. If I were the sort of person who paid attention to his surroundings, I wouldn't be bringing a laptop into public spaces.

Solution 3: Bring it in with meThe easiest thing would be just to tuck it under my arm and head to the head. And yet ... I feel like that raises questions. "Why is he bringing a laptop into the bathroom? Has he been overwhelmed by the erotic power of superheroine porn? Is this some sort of sick YouTube stunt? Who said he could do that? Why won't somebody stop him?" I don't trust people to say one word if a pod of roving computer thieves leaps from a running van and grabs my laptop, but I'm sure someone will tackle me at the knees to prevent me from carrying it into the john. 

Solution 4: Bring everything in with meOK, this doesn't even make sense to me, but here's what I often do: I put my laptop back into my satchel, put my iPod back into my coat and bring my entire life with me into the bathroom. I don't know why I feel this is more socially acceptable. What do I want them to think is in there? A makeup case? A wide selection of hygiene products? Maybe I'm trying to fool them into thinking I'm just stopping by the men's room on the way out. If so, it works, because I generally come back to find my coffee cup in the bus bin and my seat taken. 

Solution 5: Lock the thing up
I haven't tried this, but it would be the very avatar of simplicity to get one of those laptop locks and attach my laptop to the table or chair. I'm reluctant, though, because I don't want to come across as one of those twitchy people who obsess about extremely unlikely crimes and devise elaborate schemes to foil largely fictional criminals. However, looking back over this, I guess I am one of those people. I should probably just blog from an underground bunker in rural Montana, pausing every three paragraphs to re-oil my shotgun. I'd probably get more work done.


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