Originally published at Medium
I hate the taste of coffee. It is the most overrated thing on the planet and tastes similarly to what diarrhea from a monkey’s ass probably tastes like. But, like everyone, I really enjoy the Internet and unfortunately there are very few public places with free Wi-Fi that aren’t coffee shops.
For the past year I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling around the United States and one of the first things I do when I arrive in a city is head to the nearest Starbucks to decompress and check my email, without ever buying anything.
Go ahead and call me a terrible person. Yeah I could buy something besides coffee, and if I’m a bit hungry on occasion I buy a slice of Iced Lemon Pound Cake, but the rebellious side of me adamantly refuses.
I’m sure Starbucks will survive without my $2,95 as I bask in the satisfaction of my subtle corporate pushback. I would never do this at a local coffee shop because I like them too much and would feel guilty (And and Starbucks are much easier to find than public libraries).
The method I’ve developed to do this without getting caught has a one hundred percent success rate. My trick is to go in and depending on what season it is, put some article of clothing on the back of the chair. Then I leave and go to the bathroom so it appears to the customers around me that I’m going up to the counter. The only thing the employees see is the clothing so they automatically assume that the person sitting there has been at the coffee shop for a while. I return from the bathroom, take out my computer and get to work. Genius.
I was in Chicago, sitting at the table stealing the Internet for almost three hours, when an older man, probably in his mid-forties entered the building and slumped down on a plush leather sofa with a large sigh of relief. He was an African-American man with grey stubble and old tattered clothing with torn up shoes. The city was experiencing some heavy snowfall that day and it was cold, so this man went inside a building to warm up.
As soon as the man sat, a young worker came out from behind the counter and approached the man.
“Sir, may I ask what you’re doing here?”
“It’s cold outside.”
“Only paying customers are allowed in, are you a paying customer?”
The man shook his head, looking down at the ground avoiding eye contact.
“Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
And just as quickly as he arrived, the man sighed once again, except this time out of disappointment, and left probably hoping that the McDonalds down the street will treat him better. But it’s unlikely.
The young worker turned and returned to his position, and walked past me without a blink of an eye, ignoring the privileged college student who has been working on his dinosaur stickered computer for the past three hours without buying a single thing.
It turns out my genius method is bullshit. The only reason I’ve been undisturbed at Starbucks all these years is because I don’t look poor.