On Libraries or How I Learned to Screw the Coffeeshop

There are days where I need the universe to give me a sign that we all aren’t operating in a world fueled by bullshit. In New York, such places are becoming harder to find. I’ve no doubt it is no different everywhere. But yet today, the universe heard my prayer. It brought me a sign. I sit here now, at peace and in awe.

Here, I see a place where the iPad and the Kindle aren’t status symbols. I see a place where the Macbook Pro and the Hewlett Packard computer sit side by side. In friendship. Or at the very least, in apathetic understanding of each other’s right to be there. I see a place where Apple technology is not the price one pays for a seat.  I see a place where three unmistakable chimes ring out throughout this massive room. Wait….a PC? Yes.  A virus-sucking, Windows Media Player supporting, Internet Explorer browsing PC. Guess what? No one cares.

While the Battle of the Outlets relentlessly rages through coffee shops around this city, I sit and type stress free. While others struggle to preserve their battery life, we live with no such fear or worry. Here, there are outlets. Indeed, outlets everywhere! Boldly, I plug in my laptop. Boldly, others are charging their phones. Fearlessly, some are charging their phones and laptops! We all do so without guilt.  There is no mad rush for the one seat near the two available outlets amongst 30 people. This is the land our Forefathers demanded. With Liberty and Wi-Fi for all.

Yes, I see a coffee cup. But I also see a bowl of chicken soup. I see a Naked juice. I chew on gummy worms. We are not bound by Java. The only fair trade I agree to is submitting to the security guard’s request that I keep my shoes on.

I have felt no guilt. None like the guilt I feel when I sit nursing my small regular coffee when I’ve been in a coffee shop for longer than the allotted hour. I have taken no pretend sips of my cup to suggest I am doing anything other than smooching off Seattle’s Best complimentary internet access. I have not begrudgingly purchased and eaten a six hours old blueberry muffin, brown sugar crumb by brown sugar crumb. I have been here for one hour, two hours. Three! This, my friends,  is freedom.

I see chairs. Comfy chairs. Wooden chairs. Steel high chairs. Chairs on carpets and chairs around communal tables where a beautiful blonde sits beside the grey haired man and his industrial strength walking cane. I see a young woman wearing pajamas. I see a black man wearing a Negro League baseball hat. I see the HTML coder and Greenwich Village lifer sitting in silence. Neither one silently affirming each other’s place in society. Neither one wondering why’s he is there.  No one caring either way.

I see a place where there is no soft jazz playing overhead. There is no barista-approved, focus group tested playlist of Bon Iver or Norah Jones or Michael Buble playing over and over to the point I want to smash the nearest acoustic guitar in sight. There is no sound. There are no conversations of Millennials begging for their neighbors to hear about thewicked time they had at happy hour the night before. We have nothing to prove. We aren’t in a scene. We are in the library.

But then it becomes so poignantly, wonderfully clear to me. I have not just seen a library. I have seen a place in my City where bullshit is not a prerequisite for productivity.  I have seen a place that is precisely as it promised to be all those years ago in Reading Rainbow. I am in the library and I love it.  And yes, they also have books.

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