Sunday, March 23, 2008

Connection and Relief

If you look closely at the blurry, but interesting, photo above, you can see it says "Free WI-FI", "Not so Free Public Restroom!" An interesting testament to our time. An interesting testament to the privilged white collar worker. And is WI-FI really "free"?

Free Wi-Fi. The siren's call to a weary traveller tracking their vacation on their trusty laptop, a worker in a strange city who needs to check in, or a consultant who simply needs a place with people around to work and "feel connected." Any coffee shop worth it's mocha offers this service nowadays.

Is the Wi-Fi really free? If I walked in with my laptop and sat down and started to work. Would anyone come over after a period of time and tell me that I must order a tea/non-fat, soy latte/muffin to continue to use their airwaves? Unfortunately, I didn't get to test this. If I have a laptop, does that I assume I am clean, have money and can then use the restroom? Does my laptop mean that I will treat everyone and everything I encounter with love and respect?

And, what exactly is it that makes establishments so very protective of their porcelain thrones? What great treasures lie in the bathrooms of so many establishments that I must pay for the privilege of using their restroom? Why must a weary traveler or shopping wanderer be restricted from releasing the much more urgent biological needs, but be allowed at any given moment to simply open up and log on?

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