So I’m all settled in with my laptop at the Coffee Shop – I have a proper Cappuccino at my side (properly hot and not too frothy); Xtorrent is quietly downloading a movie in the background; Limewire is locating some more Café Tacuba and I have Facebook at the front – but none of my friends appear to have done anything interesting recently! There’s a friend request from someone I haven’t seen since 1993 – isn’t it a funny old world? A few years ago, these people would have been nothing but fading memories and smiling faces in an album that rarely saw the light of day. However these days everyone re-surfaces on Facebook eventually – looking suspiciously like an older and fatter sibling of their former self... but then they probably say the same or worse about me ("I knew she never amount to anything!" Yeah, well, we all knew that!)
I hoping a friend will 'show up' online for a Messenger chat, but first, I have a conundrum: I need the bathroom.
What to do? Do I pack everything away and take it all with me, potentially loosing my seat (and my coffee)? That just seems so unnecessary and petty for a two-minute pee.
So then do I assume that this is a civilised place (it is) and that I’m far enough from the exit (I am) for one of the staff to stop someone trying to stroll out with my laptop? I’m only going to be out of my seat for two minutes after all. On the other hand, am I really going to leave my most beloved and treasured possession (my laptop – yes it is) sitting on a seat, unattended, in a coffee shop? Even for two minutes? One can imagine the reporting the theft to the police:
“So you left the laptop on the seat? Do you think that was a good idea? Really? But you’re insured obviously?”
"Errrrr, well, no actually..."
"But the computer was backed-up?"
"Well yes... I have backed it up... a while ago... I really must do that again actually..."
So perhaps it would be better if I ask someone to watch it for me?
Who? The 20 year old, with the large lotus blossom tattoo – the lotus blossom is a yoga symbol – if she’s a yogi then she must be a good person, right? Yogis don’t lift laptops from coffee shops. Is leaving my laptop in the care of someone, purely based on their choice of tattoo a good idea? But then what should you base an instant personality evaluation on? Clothes? Attitude? Age? At least tattoos are permanent.
Or how about the young, skinny waiter with the artfully styled mohican. He seems very sweet and very hard-working. A decent chap. But then I know what waiters earn around here... perhaps a laptop would be too tempting. On the other hand, I’m broke, and I wouldn’t steal someone’s laptop. I don’t usually tip much. Will he remember me do you think? That women who doesn’t tip much - so why take care of her stuff. Goddamit, you should always tip well – when will I learn! I have 10 years experience behind the apron – I should know better.
So who then? How about the middle-aged man with the very serious face. He’s using one of café’s computers. That means he doesn’t have his own and he might want his own. But he’s middle-aged, and smartly dressed and serious – people like that are reliable aren’t they? Or the rich, older man with the very young girlfriend? No, definitely not: no scruples and no shame.
Ok, so I could ask the waiter to watch my laptop. Now what about my bag? My bag is cheap, but what about my purse? If I take it with me I am clearly stating to the waiter that although he can’t walk off with my laptop in the middle of his shift, he might consider lifting my purse. He’ll definitely hate me then. To be honest the only thing I care about is my laptop, so if I’m leaving that, why worry about the rest?
Do I have faith in the decency of my fellow human beings or should I be an arch realist, assuming the worst? Obviously it feels better to trust – but if I loose my laptop?
Oh well, I can’t put it off any longer - it's decision time.
Let's Discuss Functional Decision Theory
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