Power Bar, Under Bar: A Day is Made by a Simple Sign

I like to work out of coffee shops. As a freelancer, it adds some background noise to my workday, the sound of chatter and action happening somehow spurring on my desire to switch between imagining the Internet’s latest new face and full on finger flick coding it.

In the early days of this exercise it was simple: find a coffee shop, they will likely have Wifi, and they will welcome you. That’s when it was like me and two other guys living in Brazil doing the freelance thing, though. Cafe owners didn’t mind me sitting around for long hours, I was buying drinks, maybe a sandwich for lunch, and I take up very little space in my own little corner. I was just one guy coming to work in their coffee shop.

As we’ve multiplied though, the troves of freelancers foaming every city from San Diego to Portland, Maine have come to fill the seats of coffee shops for hours. College kids and teenagers and grandmas add to our numbers, coming to peruse Facebook in a public setting or watch YouTube videos over some latte art. The number of available seats for additional customers quickly dwindles, and though we are of course customers, there seems to be a growing perception that we’re using up perhaps a bit more of their resources than was traditionally assumed.

Power, WiFi, seating space long after our first cup of drip had come and gone.

And that is understandable, it really is. A business owner needs to make sure he can keep turning out new coffees, and so buying a single cup and lurking around for three hours is perhaps stretching the unspoken agreement.

Thus we’ve come to this, 2014, where some cafes simply don’t offer WiFi at all and others give you a set number of hours. In turn, many of us mobile workers have begun to feel the pressure, and for freelancers like myself who travel often, it can be hard to discern upon first entering a place as to whether or not they have free WiFi, and how happy they are to see you sitting in the same spot six hours from now.

So it’s a welcome respite when, today with my ears cold from winter ocean winds as I rode my bike to the Columbia River Coffee Roaster, a sign where I took up residence proudly declared:

Power Bar, under bar. Free WiFi. Password: thundermuck

Making it ever so clear I was welcome to help myself to their electricity, WiFi, and presumably, enjoy the coffee, we made it here.

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