With a few contracting jobs on the go this year, I often find myself working at home. Sometimes this works well, and the lack of interruptions means lots gets done. Other times the day evaporates in a cloud of household chores, emails, facebook posts and stupid cat videos.
One of my strategies when I need to concentrate is to get out of the house and work in a cafe. If it worked for J K Rowling as she wrote Harry Potter in her local cafe, it can work for me too!
Today I ventured out to one of my hangouts – the one with the good coffee, large tables but no free wifi. It is a little undiscovered – read that as quiet and unlikely to see the year out without going broke, but it suits me fine for the time being.
I can cope with pay and order at the counter, but fortunately this place hasn’t fallen into the trap of selling their beverages in paper cups. This is a relief, as really, who wants to sit down in a cosy, well decorated cafe and then drink out of a soggy cup that burns your fingers on the off chance that the coffee is actually hot enough.
So, critical boxes ticked. The musak isn’t even that bad. But of course nothing, no one and nowhere is perfect. The point of sale system they use is PC driven, and the simple order of a large skim cappucino (it’s morning, I’m allowed) involves about the same number of clicks of the mouse that it takes to find what you want on an internet banking site.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
The barista had heard my order and had the milk on before the person serving me at the till – the owner of the cafe – had navigated through the screens to find out how much I was going to pay.
I’d just got settled in, taken in half my caffeine hit and opened up the document I had to finish when the room was filled by a bunch of squawking parrots coming in to roost. Based on experience, this particular species – mums of high school students – can take a while to settle down as the discussion of seating arrangements, beverages, food, and whose child has been expelled from which school echoes around the room.
The ability to zone out is a key skill of the telecommuter.
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This work of fiction © Dave Cornford