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Sep 24, 2009 09:57 AM

Local diners banning laptops

Saw this today in

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  1. Interesting article! I'm torn on this issue, partly because I do some work out of coffeehouses, etc., on my laptop, but I'll never spend the entire day nursing a small tea while doing it. I'm sure that kind of stuff goes on all the time, and when it's keeping others from being able to grab a table, I can see how the owners or managers would get fed up with it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hiddenboston

      I've never really been one to multitask while eating (sometimes I'll listen to an iPod or something), so typically have been on the 'annoyed' side of the equation ('that jerk! he's not even eating anymore, but taking up a seat when the place is full!') ... otoh, it seems weird to me to specifically target laptops. How are laptops all that different than books? I know at my local diner there always seems to be a few folks slowly munching on their breakfast & reading a book, the newspaper, etc.

    2. Good for them! I really think hooking up to the internet while in a public eating/drinking establishment is the height of conceit and bad manners. Basically, you're sending a message to everybody in the place, staff and patrons alike: "You are all so boring I'd rather work on my computer."

      12 Replies
      1. re: jmckee

        If one is by themselves though, it really doesn't matter how engaging the other people are, unless one is a weirdo who talks to random other patrons.

        1. re: jgg13

          Interesting take. Being a "weirdo" used to be called being "friendly."

          1. re: jmckee

            but your implication, or at least what i'm inferring, is that you think there is something wrong with wanting your time to be your own, to work, to read, to not interact with others - that there is no other reason for not wanting to spend your lunch time in conversation with strangers than you find them boring. which is patently nonsense.

            if i wish to be left alone to read or work while i eat then the "height of conceit and bad manners" would be insisting on inserting yourself in my space.

            1. re: jmckee

              or "annoying".

              When I was young, my mom once told me that I shouldn't disturb our dog when it was eating. That advice goes for humans as well, I've found.

              1. re: jgg13

                Wow. Just wow. Remind me to invite you to my next party. You must be a scintillating dinner conversationalist. Do you growl when somebody gets too close to your plate?

                I disagree with jmckee - there's nothing wrong with working (or reading, or just wanting to be alone) if you're solo in public. But calling anybody who doesn't want that a "weirdo"? Hello, and welcome to Friendlyville.

                Some people will engage with strangers in a public setting, some want to be left alone. In the olden days, there was no stigma attached to either group, and people used something called "social skills" to distinguish between them. But I like it better now that we can just disparage each other.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  "Hello, and welcome to Friendlyville"

                  You'll find that Bostonians aren't as keen on strangers coming up and talking to them as in other parts of the country. It is a common topic on various sites (e.g. boston yelp, where some visitor or newcomer will post the age old 'why are you all so unfriendly?' post pretty regularly).

                  And yes, usually when people I don't know strike up a conversation with me (granted I live in Boston and I just said it isn't as common as in other parts of the country), I'd say that 9 out of 10 times they end up being shifty, crazy, trying to rip me off, or some combination of those.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Lived in the Boston area from '83 to '89. Didn't care for it much. But I still got into plenty of conversations with strangers.

                    Again, it's the whole social skills thing. Although people in any given area may tilt one way or the other, there are people in every city who will engage with strangers, and others who'd prefer not to. Those who try to carry on conversations with an unwilling participant probably fit in one of the categories you mentioned. But when Buckner let the ball roll between his feet, everybody in the bar commiserated together.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      "But when Buckner let the ball roll between his feet, everybody in the bar commiserated together."

                      Key word being bar ;) Everyone knows your name and all of that jazz ... :)

                      Rereading my post, for fairness' sake, I should add "people not from here" to the list of shifty, crazy & trying to rip me off (but combinations are still available, I've talked to my share of crazy out of towners!)

          2. re: jmckee

            i think he's doing it for business reasons, not because he thinks it's the "height of conceit and bad manners." I don't think people should "milk" anything other than cows, and that should be done quickly.

            ETA: you can milk other animals know what I'm saying...

            1. re: jmckee

              Remember when we use to go out to lunch to get away from the office & the phones? Heck now a days you can't even get away from the phones in the bathrooms!

              I think its great places like this are saying no to the roaming office.

              1. re: anniemax

                I read an article in the Washington Post a few years ago about how some people are using WiFi cafes as their office to reduce costs. That might be part of the backlash.

                1. re: anniemax

                  No lie: My boss and I went to an industry event a couple years ago at a nice hotel. It was full of other IT types.

                  At break, I went to the gent's room, and in one of the stalls a guy was audibly taptaptapping away at his laptop and talking on his cell hands free. And in that room, hands free takes on a whole 'nother dimension.

                1. Bravo. That the obvilious narcissistic cheapskate tap-tappers think the world owes them a comfortable seat in a warm room for a 35 cent tip on a cup of coffee for a few hours is ludicrous. Go sit on a sidewalk with the pigeons and the rain, or go home. They brought this predictable emerging policy upon themselves.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    I agree. The people reading books seem to do it while having their coffee and the computer users seem to drink coffee while using their computer. Coming from different directions.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Interesting point regarding the book readers. Not sure I agree with it, but that would make sense.

                      On another "why laptops are worse than books" point, it seems that more often than not when I see a laptop person, they're much more spread out than someone should be. They've got their 15" laptop, sometimes a mouse, sometimes some papers, plus whatever it is they're at teh establishment for in the first place.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        Oh absolutely. And they therefore need a table for four just because they can't bring themselves to go half an hour without checking their email.

                        1. re: jmckee

                          bull. on every level.

                          don;t give them a table for 4. give them whatever you would give any other single customer. If a non-laptop user spreads his newspaper that far, or just a lone patron is given a 4 top is that any different for the other customers in the place?

                          and some of us work hard, with other people around all the time, and we value these quiet moments here we can catch up on email, or check the online newspaper, or work on our poem or novel or love letter.

                          not all lives are your life, whatever that life might be like.

                          1. re: thew

                            I was more picturing counter/bar space when I said that. I don't really care what someone does at their own table.

                            OTOH, it isn't specific to laptop users, etc. The other day I was having lunch and was squashed in at the counter, as were everyone there but 2 guys. Those 2 guys were talking to each other and both were taking up about 2-3 'spaces', if that makes sense.

                  2. Some places want the laptop users (why else would some places put a sign up saying they have free wireless?) and others don't (for very good reason). Nothing to be torn about or upset about - just go to the establishment that suits your need or desire.

                    I can totally appreciate why small places that depend on table turnover during a very short period of the day would not want digital campers in their midst.

                    One thing I don't understand is why people who would never think of setting up shop with a laptop in an elegant restaurant think it's okay to do so in a casual one that shows no signs that it welcomes that behavior.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Cachetes

                      There's a fast food kind of place I go to that has free wi-fi, but they turn it off during the busy lunch hour. It's kind of funny because it's in the middle of the produce district and I rarely see anyone in there with a lap top except me.