Deadlines and a Couple of Cappuccinos, Please

Next came the eat/drink dilemma. Being extra-conscientious about such things, I wondered if I ought to order a number of things, just so I could justify sitting there for hours.

Published: 11th June 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th June 2023 10:37 PM   |  A+A-

Soon after Work from Home (WFH) became the ante-Covid and post-Covid norm, WFC—Working from Cafes—got its moment in the sun. WFC always had its devotees who had been quietly slipping into the nearest café, to set up their notebooks, laptops and smartphones, order a coffee, and finish working on that script, that presentation, that paper. So much so, the casual walk-in, looking for a plate of cheese sandwiches and a coffee to go with it, invariably never found a vacant spot.

I was so ready to give WFC a shot. And so I snuck off to the nearest coffee place, laptop tucked under arm, high on anticipation of a good cuppa joe, as well as a good hour or three of productive activity.

First, finding a free seat was anything but easy, simply because I didn’t choose a good time—it is usually just when the café rolls up its shutters or around a somnolent 3 pm in the afternoon. I had gone in the middle of the day and the place was packed with people, so it took a long time before I got a seat right at the end of the room. 

Next came the eat/drink dilemma. Being extra-conscientious about such things, I wondered if I ought to order a number of things, just so I could justify sitting there for hours. In the end, I ordered cappucino, intending to get it topped up as many times as required, which I did thrice. 

Then I got down to business. I opened a Word document, typed in a working headline and stared at it. And stared at it some more. Brain freeze. As writers will tell you, a walk around usually helps at moments like these. Except, I didn’t quite see myself walking around the crowded café. So I did the next best thing: I eavesdropped.

Just in front of me at the long wooden counter, a guy in a gorgeous manbun was on his phone, and believe me when I tell you, he wasn’t WFC, at least not on this call. He was pleading with his friend to do a trainers swap, exchange his perfect except-for-the fit Converse with some unspecified brand belonging to the friend. Soon I was caught up in his enthusiasm, his desperation, and started to root silently for him. Twenty-seven minutes on, the friend had not budged. 

On my left, there was a team at work, and they weren’t exactly keeping their voices down. So of course, I was soon caught up in their marketing campaign, quite liking Team Member 2’s concept, quite sure TM1’s ideas wouldn’t work, and dying to urge TM3 to cast in his lot with 1 or 2 instead of just sitting there like a dead duck, dammit. 

Adjacent to me sat a woman with very long hair trailing over her face and her laptop. Whatever she was looking at seemed quite disturbing. She must have sat and stared at the screen for a full 11 minutes. I know because I counted. Then she gave up, sighed deeply and shut the laptop down. Which was my cue to do the same. Because I had been in there for a little over two hours and while my marketing strategies and trainers game had been definitely upped, I hadn’t done a jot of writing. And this column was not going 
to write itself.

My takeaway? It’s simple and succinct: WFC is not for the easily distracted.

Sheila Kumar 


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