Before we get started this week, I have an urgent piece of business. Everyone here who doesn't work for AT&T, please skip down two paragraphs.

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Latte laptoppers

Before we get started this week, I have an urgent piece of business. Everyone here who doesn't work for AT&T, please skip down two paragraphs. Now, ATTENTION AT&T! Regarding the following ad jingle:

"I'm gonna need some information/ before I take your hand/yes I'm gonna need to know all about you/before I follow you to the Promised Land. . . ."

Would you mind telling me which of you idiots thought this to be good background music for an Internet ad in these privacy-conscious times? Do you realize how this sounds to anyone concerned about the safety of their online information—particularly when you, AT&T, are notorious for selling telephone records to third-party marketing outfits? How much did AOL- Time Warner pay you to make them look good on this? What the hell is wrong with you?

Ahem. Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the Best Of edition of Kiss My ASCII, in which your humble correspondent finally loses what little tact she had left.

As you may know, we here at the Weekly divvy up the writing duties for Best Of. That includes writing up your, the readership's, Best Ofs—doing up a nice little paragraph telling what you nice folks decided on each of our ballot items. This year I was in charge of "Best Coffee Joint To Bring Your Laptop."

Now, you nice folks chose Starbucks, and I figure that if you all go to Starbucks I'm that much more likely to get a prime table at my own favorite place, so it's all good. (A truly laptop-friendly café is like a free parking place downtown; if I tell you where mine is it'll just crowd me out of the picture.) However, as I sifted through the ballots I saw a number of you who seem to . . . how can I put this? . . . want my foot up your ass pretty bad.

A few sample answers from that contingent: "whichever one I'm patronizing so I can 'accidentally' spill my skinny over it," "leave your laptop at home—we're tired of being surrounded by them," "anywhere I'm not dining," "I hate people pretending to be so indispensable they have to work everywhere they go—give it a rest!" "if you want to be at work, take your coffee there," and "coffee kills the immune system and laptops promote alienation." (OK, that guy also wanted us to know that "meat makes you impotent" and "we're all on leashes whether we know it or not." Dude's got issues.) In other words, the other-people-living-their-lives-offends-me Seattle jackboot community has spoken.

Normally I shine anyone lacking the intestinal fortitude to offer me their opinions face-to-face (or in signed letters to the editor). But in the festive Best Of spirit, I'll go ahead and ask: What's your problem? I like to get outside my cluttered, distracting office to write now and then; what about my laptop is any more bothersome than some hippie chick scribbling Deep Thoughts in a paper notebook? I'm sitting quietly and not taking up any more room than any other patron; what about this offends you?

Don't tell me coffee shops are for socializing; if I walk in by myself, I'm obviously not there to socialize, especially not with the kind of people who'd damage other people's belongings. You want to hang out in your own fashion, no one's stopping you. In fact, I'll make you a deal. I will stay at home with my laptop as soon as the following folk are also banned from littering up my favorite coffee spot (all examples drawn from actual Seattle experience!):

People with screaming or misbehaving children, particularly the kind who run around pulling stuff off other patrons' tables;

Dating couples in which one member of the duo is expounding on his/her dumbass philosophy of life while the other stares miserably out the window wondering if this dork will ever shut up;

People loudly pontificating on their 12-step progress, Atkins diet, New Age guru's teachings, child-care philosophy, therapy breakthroughs, past-life regressions, political leanings, or anything else definable as "more information than I needed;"

Amateur and/or professional poets, living and/or dead;

Anybody who thinks his or her right to chat with companions is more interesting or important than my right to enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee.

I don't go to coffee shops to be part of your aesthetic experience (with or without my laptop), and I don't expect you to be part of mine. So lighten the fuck up. Live and let live. After all, there's no reason we can't get along and even band together against our common foe: the cell-phone crowd.

 
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