Manners in the wireless age in busy eating spots

There are none, sadly. I was at a local coffee shop with limited seating during a very busy brunch. Most of the tables were taken up by single people with notebook computers (Apples mainly) who were quite clearly camping them for long periods of time. They seemed to think that that their single cup of coffee entitled them to unlimited wireless network access to do homework, surf the web, or whatever. One young woman started out at a table for four — and then moved over later to a table for six. Meanwhile, there was a line of people stretching out the door ordering food — and presumably wanting to sit and eat it.

I started referring to these table campers derisively as the “Apple Occupying Army”, as they stared at their screen oblivious to the other diners waiting for seats (or taking their food to go instead).

Yes, I understand these folks may be students doing homework. Have they heard of the library? Or, simply hitting another eatery with plenty of spare seats? Or avoiding the rush periods?

Another popular coffee shop I hit has signs posted asking customers to please limit their wireless access to 30 minutes when they have a waiting list for tables. The regulars who show up as single diners tend to grab the counter seats, where their wireless access doesn’t keep anyone waiting for a place to sit.

Whatever happened to common courtesy and common sense? If a dining spot is in a meal rush and people are waiting for tables — then take the notebook someplace else. Or, at least grab a counter seat and leave the tables for larger parties.

Dining spots shouldn’t have to post signs to ask people to do what is only good manners.

This was my first time to this particular Austin coffee spot, but their willingness to let the campers hog the tables may lead me to avoid a repeat trip — especially if I have others with me.

One of my friends is a regular at the same place and he has asked the staff to do something about the computer campers during rush periods. Again, it is telling that we now apparently have to remind people to do what used to be simple courtesy.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the idiot who engaged in a fairly loud profanity-laced and “N-Word” laden argument with his girlfriend in the checkout line at Fry’s Electronics a few weeks ago…


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