March 16, 2008

The IC* – The Diary Account

* Internet cafe

Day 3

All these people, these internet travelers are tettering on the brink of something far-flung and potentially adventurous. Yeah, like at an airport.

Like a small town rural airport. You know, where the check in person is also the one who serves the coffee, carries the bags to the plane, does the security check, and flies the plane. Nobody on duty at the terminal? There´s a “Be right Back” sign.

Yes, this place is like that. Home-spun.

I think they should sell pies here.

Day 5

The people who come here are a combined lot of locals, tourists, ex-pats, weirdos and models.

models are just models – everywhere. They have the uninspired sameness of robots. I think that’s part of the fascination why we like to watch those “America´s next top model or similar shows. We can see first-hand, that its true. That most are shallow and stupid, superficial and self-absorbed. With the rare flare of a single human. Someone who can speak about something other than their appearance. And that’s why some girls force their boyfriends to watch in the hope they see them as we do – you know, dumb – a hollow shell. Too bad most guys think thats awesome)

Day 6

The place is arranged a bit like a restaurant – 4 tables with 4 pcs on each. So you kinda sit across from each other. Then there are bench arrangements in the back with two computers on either side against the walls as well as two cublicles. They offer a smidgen of privacy – although sitting back there for six hours turns day into night since you don´t see whats going on outside. Plus I kinda fumigate myself when I smoke.

I am sitting up front – at the smoker tables. But that colorless banker person across from me is bringing out my natural suspicion and hostility. I feel the evil eye on me. Although when I steal the occasional glance, he is always staring at his screen, all busy-like. Maybe its my paranoid imagination. Think I have to move.

Day 11

Please don´t ask me why I come here……….its just depressing.

Well, I currently have no personal computer. That will change soon of course. But for the time being, yep, this is my office and daily dose on the internet drip.

And before I actually had to make use of institutions such as this, I thought they were just sad. I mean, who the hell goes to an internet café? Doesn´t everyone have their own laptop? This was before I had the snob extracted out of me in a rather violent and painful way. Lets not kid ourselves here. I was addicted to onlinism. Still am – just the circumstances have rendered me unable to feed the addiction. And am having the most horrible withdrawal symptoms.

Ok, so here I am. I spend about 6-7 hours here everyday – so my usage has been slashed by 2/3 and my expenditures increased by bloody 100 fold. Can you believe it? The cheapest rate is 2 € /hour.

And believe it or not, there are people who come here – like me – on a daily basis.

I remember when I went to a café years ago – when they were all modern and spacious. And huge. And you actually had space to sit and spread out. Well, that place went out of business. Now all you get are these tiny places with horrible old ugly pc´s, squished together like sheep and just basically awful.

But well, there you go. I guess you make more money this way. With human suffering.

Day 13

Amongst the constant stream of ins and outs are the models. Funny how you know it’s a model. Not because they are so extremely good looking or anything – but well, yeah, they´re usually tall and quite skinny. Ok, and good-looking. And speak with a Russian accent. And their conversations – usually amount to about 4 ¾ words. But not at once. All together. Not that I eavesdrop. Ok, I do. Its research.

The most interesting person here by far is the girl who runs the place. Well, she runs it as if she owns it – very lovingly. She has the 9-4 shift from Monday to Thursday. Her name is Babe. And she has the sweet personality and no-nonsense practicality/efficency of well, Babe. Even though she has pink and white hair, she doesn´t look anything like Babe – but she is definitely as likable.

So far I´ve found out that she is a single mom, has a 4-year old son, and is a hair stylist in her spare time. I guess to earn some extra cash on the side, since I´m sure this place doesn´t pay that well.

Virginia Woolf once said – you have to be poor to be able to write. So, yeah, that’ is what I am researching. I´ll try to remember this feeling when I have millions in the bank.

Day 13….still

There´s some Italian dude who comes here regularly to gamble. Kinda of like a refugee Mafioso...older, well-fed, balding and thick glasses. The Don. He plays roulette, mutters to himself, writes down god-knows-what on little scraps of paper (the statistics? Trying to beat the odds? Good luck with that dude) is glued to the wheel for about 4 hours straight, then jumps up, and runs out the door. Every single day. I sometimes sit back to back with him. He constantly bumps his chair into mine even though I am squeezed up against the desk, my boobs squished (yeah, kinda high desks) I´m tempted to be rude but when he turns to me – briefly – with his eyes glazed over, rubbing his sweaty hands together, well, I refrain. Don´t want those meaty fingers wrapped around my neck. Although I doubt he´d do that himself. Probably get his fourth cousin twice removed to do the dirty work, dump the body, sink it in the river.

Then there is that office-type guy. Looks like a banker. The kind with their butt cheeks pinched together really really tightly. Not because they´re homophobic but because they can´t think of anything better to do. Short neat hair, small rimless glasses. Just makes me want to smack him. Like all the time. So that at least with a red face, he has some color. Obviously, a wannabe banker otherwise what would he be doing in a place like this? Sits at the same place every day. Although, come to think of it, maybe his luck has changed and he has gotten a job. Haven´t seen him for a while.

Day 14

Right now there is a loud-mouth strutter behind me. His phone rings loudly, he talks loudly and he is constantly strutting to the reception area to pick up a print out. I´d like to bash him over the head. He´s so pompous I want to kick him in his wedgied ass. And he bloody hums. Grrrr. And he drapes his sweater over his shoulders like some geriatric-Sears-catalogue model type.

Day 17

Sitting at my usual place which is at the back against the wall. Have been here for 5 hours and almost time to go. Theres a really annoying guy sitting back to back against my chair. Another squeeze-in session. You know, where the Don usually sits. This guy though isn´t doing anything, except, well, sitting and picking his nose – figuratively speaking. Oh, and sneezing all over me.

I think I really hate people sometimes. Like everyone.

Day 19

OMG – that extremely irritating hum-strut-person is back again. Next time his phone rings I think I might have to bash him with it. Or at least smash it to the ground and stomp on it. Too bad the phones nowadays are small and technically innovative. Which will make me cry if I have to destroy it. But well, that’s the way it goes. Can´t be helped.

Day 20

Its interesting really that people come to the internet café to engage with the computers. And not with the people in the café. You know, like when you go to the bar, you kinda go there to pick someone up, no? At least that’s what I always thought. But then again, you don´t look all lost and sad if no one comes to talk to you. Because you just stare at the screen as if you have some important chat going on. You´re never alone with a computer. Always reliable.

Day 22

The elegant lady is here again. Mrs. Danner. Yes, she reminds me a bit of Blythe Danner. She is a regular too. A local regular. A native speaker regular. Crucial. She usually sits at the back – well, until I moved in on her terrain. She comes in the afternoons. And since I get here earlier, I decided I liked that spot. It’s the only workstation that has a broken PC next to it – thereby allowing you to spread out a bit. The airless cubicle ws – despite the privacy perk it offers- had run its course. Using skype to talk to my guy made my ears glow. No, not because of hot cybersex, no, I always had to press those spongy plastic headphones to my ears to hear anything. The sound quality was about as clear as someone talking out of their asses.

The workstations at the front – out in the open – on display – have much better sound with the added and unwanted bonus that everyone can hear and understand you. Oh, they pretend not to, but everyone hangs on each syllable. I know. I do it. When the rare animated bubbly chick calls her friend back in Siberia or wherever. Although the thrill of eavesdropping wears off fairly quickly…….obviously.

Yeah, I tell you, one gets to know this place pretty intimately in a detached observational type way. Can´t be helped.

Day 25

Why do people come here? The longer I come here, the more this place reminds me of a peepshow sex shop type establishment. Anonymous sex. Here its anonymous surfing, gambling, whatever. Has that seedy touch somehow. An air of despair. And a bunch of wannabe shady underworld types. Can´t imagine real criminals come here. Although, well, maybe they do.

Which makes that woman, Mrs. Danner, stand out. She´s obviously got money. Why would she come here? Sit for hours playing some online scrabble or whatever it is she does. I peeked one day, noticed it was some game thing.
I don´t think she gambles, since I overheard a conversation between her and the Don. He surfaced briefly from his roulette-a-muck to hit on her. She was having none of that and told him in no uncertain terms that she doesn´t play with real money. Or with real people apparently.

Day 26

Just trudging upstairs from the bathroom when a guy passes me on the way down. With his pants already undone. Going for a wank I suspect. That or he really feels at home here.

Oh, and I noticed they even sell condoms and sex toys in a dispenser downstairs.

See? Told you its similar to a sex shop-cum-peep-show.

Day 29

I suppose reasons for coming to an ic resemble those for going to a peep show or a prostitute. Anonymity. You can do what you want, wont be judged, and you don’t leave a trace. Perfect.

Maybe coming to an ic is a womans way of cheating.

I´d like to ask her outright why she comes but think that might be a bit tricky. I mean, would you stand in front of a brothel and ask each guy going in why they are frequenting establishments such as these…I think I might get punched.

I think this is a question that has plagued many a scorned woman, I dare say. Me – I never wondered why my husband went to prostitutes. Never thought about it. And yes, he is my ex-husband.

Maybe because you pay for it, men think its not being unfaithful. Or maybe they just don´t care and are in the “what-she-doesn’t-know-wont-hurt-her” mode.

I think if I started asking people why they come to the ic – I´d eventually get banned for scaring off all the customers. So, yes, the comparision with a peep show place is quite perfect.

Day 32

The internet is a bit like polonium 210. You always leave a trace – no matter where you go. I ´m wondering if the internet really is the freedom/blessing/amazing innovation we think it is. Something to think about for sure. And for that reason – if I didn´t realize that before – internet cafes are great. One does remain more anonymous than with a private connection and personal laptop. Did you know that everything you do online is registered and stored for at least two years with your IP address? Its true.

Day 34

This place has the functionality of a sex-shop-peepshow cubicle place about it. You know, just enough space to jerk off then leave. The longer I come to this place, the more its shortcomings are revealed. Dirty, seedy, populated by a bunch of wanker-weirdos and just enough personal space to freak out when you accidently brush up against a fellow user or do-er, whichever the case may be.

The one redeeming quality it has is that it is in the center of town and you can wear a trench coat without attracting too much attention.

Oh, and because of Babe.

I brought her a mini football today. For her son. His name is Kris Govinda. “ookay”, I thought to myself, plastering an interested smile on my face. Upon further questioning, she reveals it means a heartfelt good person. Plus Govinda wsa a companion of Siddharta. So she is into the Buddhist/hindu karma thing.

I got another free coffee. Not because I brought a ball. No. Because she is kind. And she knows she will be repaid by goodness, if not by me, then by someone else. She tells me not to worry.

“Besides”, she says “ I can see when someone is deserving” Me? Deserving? At least someone thinks so.

Day 36

OMG – they´ve banned smoking! I think it might be time to me to find greener pastures. Jesus – are you listening?

Day 41

Dear God, please give me the means to be reinstated as a techno addict.

Last day

Have I learnt anything from not having 24/7 onlinism? Um, yes, well, I have. Yes, its important to take time off from the internet and various other electronica. Yes, its important to actually speak to people – you know, like face to face, in person. Yes, its important to read. And yes, its important to calm down.

I´ll do all that again when I have my new macbook air. And my new ipod. And external superdrive. And stuff.


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