The Way I See It Today: A GenXer’s Quest to Find the Perfect WiFi Hot Spot. And Some Coffee, Too, If I Can Manage It.


So some of you may know that I’m in the midst of a mid-life crisis and a period of self-discovery.  For those who don’t, let me give you the elevator speech.  Three months ago, I quit my project management job to try to find myself.  Yeah, don’t ask.  I know, in this economy, what was I thinking?  I’ll get to that in another post.  

Anyway, I bought a couple of cameras, and I’ve been traipsing around the NYC area taking photos, blogging and living a carefree existence since mid-June.   

I’m acting like I have no responsibilities whatsoever.   

Well, given what I’ve been through over the last 15 years of my life, I felt I deserved a little downtime.   

Sue me.  

Well, as you probably figured, after three months of living like a spendthrift prodigal son (or daughter for you politically correct types) money’s gotten a little tight.  Like hot dogs and canned beans tight.  

So I’ve been on the quest to find the ideal free wi-fi spot so I can jump on the Internet and continue wasting time and delaying the inevitable.  

I found out that Starbucks offered free wi-fi, so for the past few weeks I’ve been venturing downtown to the local crack house, i mean, coffee house to have my fill of iced vanilla lattes and free wi-fi.  The lattes are always good, but the wi-fi is even better.  It’s fast, and it’s FREE!!! (think Jos.A Bank FREE…buy one tie and get $2000 worth of fine suits for FREEEEEEE!!!)  

You can’t beat it with a stick or a baseball bat.  However, someone like me cannot afford to drop $5 on lattes indefinitely so I had to look for an lower-cost alternative.   

I heard that McDonald’s offered free wi-fi, so I took a little trip to my local MickyD’s to investigate.  I went in, bought one of their lattes, and found a place to sit.  I pulled out my netbook and cord, looking for a place to plug in, and found NOTHING.  Not an outlet in sight.   

What the hell?  

Then I looked around, and noticed that this McDonald’s was eerily empty, except for people huddled over their meals, eating quietly.  I saw one other woman with a netbook, working, but I also noticed shortly thereafter that she left.   

What gives?  

Well, I like to finish what I start, and I did have a vanilla latte to drink, so I settled in, taking note of the fact that I had to work against the clock.  The battery on my netbook only gives me about 90 – 120 minutes of power, and I had work to do.  So I got to logging on the wi-fi network, checking email, posting to my blog, checking my Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds, you know, all the stuff Gen Xers love to do.  Important stuff.  

So when I began to do the heavy-duty stuff, uploading photos, that’s where the rubber met the road, and I decided at that very moment that I would never return to McDonald’s again unless it was for a SuperSized order of french fries.  

The wi-fi was so ridiculously slow, I thought I had turned off the high-speed information highway to a dial-up detour disguised as a GPS shortcut.  I sat there, looking at the screen, silently cussing and gnashing my teeth.  I did, however, notice that the lunch crowd had begun to appear.  Out of nowhere.  

I got so frustrated, that I said, eff this.  I packed up my toys and headed over to Starbucks, where I dropped another $3.50 on an iced chai tea latte and settled in to upload photos, and all of the other important stuff necessary to secure my future.  

Now, you’re probably wondering, when is she gonna get to the point?  I’m getting there, just hang on.  Be patient.   

So I’m in Starbucks, and being the keenly perceptive individual that I think and believe I am, I look around, noticing that the place is crowded and most of the tables are occupied by people with laptops or netbooks like me.  Most of the individuals in this particular Starbucks look to be around my age – mid to late 30s or early 40s.  Hmmm.  

Could it be that Starbucks has it right?  Gen Xers seem to like it. Spend a few bucks on a coffee drink, and access fast wi-fi for as long as your butt can stand sitting on the comfortable seats.  

McDonald’s, on the other hand, has it all wrong.  They want to compete with Starbucks for more of the coffee drinker market share, but they fail to create a suitable coffee drinking experience!  You can’t even stay and plug in your computer and surf the Internet for an hour while you enjoy your caffeinated beverage.  How sad is that?  

I say pretty sad.  

But since I don’t have money for Starbucks coffee, and even though I’ve heard that people go to Starbucks for the free wi-fi and forgo purchasing coffee, I equate that with being invited to dinner at a friend’s house and not even bringing a bottle of wine.  To me, that would be rude and socially unacceptable.  

So today, I’m at the Jersey City public library.  I can plug in my computer; the wi-fi is free, fast, and the environment reminds me of high school when we took trips to the library to “do research” for papers (yeah, right).   

I figure my brain will soak up all this book knowledge at some point, and maybe I can go on Jeopardy or something and win a boatload of money and pay off some bills.  Perhaps. It’s nice to dream, right?  

Anyway, guess what the bonus is in all of this?  The library is right around the corner from my apartment.  Freakin’ awesome!  

But no coffee.  That’s no good.  

At any rate, maybe I’ll be more productive and find new ways to delay the inevitable.    

Or, maybe I’ll just catch up on my free music downloads.   

Sue me.  

(c) 2010 Mom of Three Photography, all rights reserved.

 

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