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1:15 p.m. - 2011-11-07
Travels with Lappy - chapter 1

I have $22, half a tank of gas, a full pack of cigarettes, it's broad daylight and I'm wearing bifocals.

My apologies to Elwood and Jake, but I'm on a mission today too. During the last storm we were the first to lose power and the last to get it back. So today I'm visiting area eateries and bookstores to check out their WiFi and power outlets. I will be prepared next time. It really wasn't so, so bad to be without internet, but not being able to write sucked hairy donkey nuts. Screw longhand. Me without an electronic scribe and I'm stymied. I think way faster than I can write with a pen. Typing at least I can keep up with my brain.

Right now I'm at Panera. I tried to be a polite person and chose a tiny table instead of taking the big one in the corner (the only two open tables with power outlets) and am paying for my manners by being partially blinded by a badly aimed track light. Also my back is up against a trash can and so far two different guys have dumped their stuff and let loose with big burps. Whether I am invisible or this might be some kind of arcane mating signal I do not know. "You hear that belch, sweet thing? Oh yeah, you're in for a thrill ride with one badass burping mofo."

I prefer to think I'm invisible.

I also had to laugh at the two young gangstas at the coffee bar. I went up for a refill and one gangsta takes a sip of his brew and instantly starts wincing and grimacing and reaching for the sugar packets, claiming the 10 sugars already in there wasn't enough. Definitely needed 10 more. I looked at this doofus with his pants on the ground and his general "Imma thug, beotch!" demeanor and started to giggle. Yeah, he's a real bad boy. Needs 20 sugars to take the bite out of a cup of light roast decaf. Dude, if you're not tough enough for gods. His buddy with the levitating sideways hat and his own pants on the ground noticed my smirky giggles and tugged on Sugar Man's sleeve trying to get his dopey friend to stop acting like such a wussy with the coffee and man up, fer God's sake! That old fat bitch was laughing at him!

No worries, Floating Hat, you and Sugar Man had no cred with me anyhow. Anyone with his underpants on display and is too dumb to know how to wear a hat is only a menace to fashion, not society at large.

I'm going to move along to B&N eventually. It's rolling up on 11:00. Almost lunchtime. I'm sure the management would appreciate me freeing up one of the few tables with an outlet.

Well here I am at B&N and after a thorough search I found exactly TWO outlets in the whole joint. One up front in full view of the registers and using it means sitting on the floor. The other outlet is in the grimy 'cafe'. I've reluctantly settled into a stained wing chair and I'm sharing the outlet with a dude wearing huge muffin-style headphones who's pretending to study from the book in his hands but mostly he's watching videos on his laptop and chair dancing. The volume of his kit must be on max, I can hear the tinny whine and constant thump of his tunes despite the big muffins. Perhaps his head is hollow and making a perfect echo chamber. In any case snagging both free electricity and internet at this particular B&N is almost imposs.

Good to know. The bigger B&N across the river came through with dozens of outlets and a much cleaner cafe. Something we found out during the outtage last week. We'd only gone in search of someplace warm where they don't mind if you hang around a long time. That Wolf got to charge his phone was just a nice bonus. I'd considered bringing Lappy with me on that jaunt but was too wigged out to be thinking clearly. Anyhow just getting Wolf a slot on the power strip someone was nicely sharing with random electricity starved refugees was a happy miracle.

The scene in that cafe was kind of cool actually. Everyone was behaving with good manners and being decent about sharing the outlets. There was a jolly "We're all in this together" vibe. Something definitely lacking on this side of the Hudson where bad manners, worse behavior and the "Root hog or die!" mentality holds sway. As much as I love my home, I must be honest and admit I live amongst beasts. Nowhere else have I seen so many people driving and texting, cutting lines, letting doors slam in people's faces, parking space stealing, and generally being surly and cretinish. 'Gracious' isn't in the local lexacon.

I think my next stop might be the truck stop near my house. They didn't have power after the storm either, but there've been other blackouts when they did when we didn't. Also I already know the booths in the restaurant have outlets. And coin operated TVs. At least they did last time I was there. Which, now that I think on it, was at least 5 years ago. Mick's not a truck stop kind of guy. Nothing stopping me from going on my own though. I can indulge my pash for huge mountains of southern-style home cooking and enjoy the joshing between the high haired waitresses and the truckers. Eavesdropping at the truck stop is almost always worthwhile.

Before I leave B&N I will say this chair is actually way comfortable. Might look like it was curb shopped from outside the stomach flu clinic (the stains on this thing are all varied but definitely organic in nature, ick) but it fits me like it was made for me. I'm having zero problem typing this with Lappy on my knees using my Army-issue rucksack (Lappy's travel bag) as a lap desk. My mouse is on the wee table next to me. Maybe I won't hurry off after all. The guy with the echo chamber head left about 5 minutes ago and in the subsequent quiet I found out they're playing f-ing Christmas music over the PA, but otherwise it's not too bad here.

I've put my headphones on as protection, nothing's being piped in it just makes me look like I'm not listening to the convos around me. Which I am. Also it takes a lot of gall to say something to someone wearing headphones, so my chances of being swooped in on to make chat with some bored person who is also wasting the day away at the B&N Cafe are nearly nil.

Most of the other computer users here have personalized their machines. Stickers, mostly. But one guy has this wild slipcase on his. Reminds me of the gigantic Knapp mural that was on the outside of Alexander's department store in Paramus. Go google it, I'm too lazy to do more linkage.

You know, of course, my 'research' is just an excuse to flee my house for the day. Sure, the WiFi/outlet info may prove useful, but mostly I just had to get gone for a while. Forcing myself to dress and get out among other people is part of my self-imposed moratorium on doing any more whining. Need to be busy, not broody. Bonus- I can't smoke here. I've developed a wet ugly smoker's hack. Ew.

Well, my 2 hours is up. Nobody is keeping score but me, but I hate the idea of being even more pathetic than I already am by spending my entire day sitting in a bookstore cafe like a homeless person. I might be an actual homeless person soon enough, no need to get into the lifestyle prematurely.

Until next time, ~LA

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