BROOKLYN, NY — After years of surrendering to the social construct of asking strangers to watch her laptop when she goes to the bathroom at a coffee shop, one local woman has finally abandoned the practice in favor of one simple principle: trust. “People are either going to try to steal my shit or they’re not, and the person sitting next to me at a coffee shop is either going to try to prevent someone from stealing my shit or not, regardless of whether or not I say, ‘Hey, I’m so sorry to bother you, but do you mind watching my computer for second?’ before I go take a piss. So I’m done wasting my breath to disturb a stranger — unless he’s like, really hot.”
While many consider the woman’s willingness to trust a stranger the surest sign of a New York newbie, others disagree. “A big part of being a New Yorker is realizing you must, to some extent, trust the other inhabitants of this fucking city,” says one native New Yorker. “Yeah, there are a lot of dirtbags here, but everyone knows that, so the non-dirtbags are always on the lookout for the dirtbags, you understand? The longer you live here, the easier it gets to recognize a non-dirtbag. If you see a kindred spirit drinking a $2 La Croix at a cafe just so they can use the wifi and enjoy the AC, you know that person’s not a dirtbag. Well, in they eyes in the cafe they might be, but you know what I mean.”
One bystander disagrees. “Only someone who can’t be trusted with your shit would leave their shit with you without even saying anything.” When asked to elaborate, she explained, “There’s a code of silence in this city. If someone just leaves their $2000 laptop next to you without even acknowledging it, it’s implied that you don’t have to protect it, that if someone comes along and tries to take it and read the fucking screenplay on the monitor, you’re under no obligation to do anything. You can be as silent as the person who left it there with Celtx wide open.”
“Yeah, if you’re a dirtbag,” says the native New Yorker.
“Excuse me? I went to Wharton,” says the bystander.
“Exactly,” says the native New Yorker.
Once we extricated ourselves from that argument, we asked the woman one last question: what if someone spills your La Croix on your laptop while you’re in the bathroom? “Well, that would fucking suck. But realistically, that could happen just as easily if I asked someone to watch my stuff. Someone could spill something on my laptop even if I was sitting right there, guarding my possessions with a weapon.”
She continued, “When you go out in public in New York, you’re always taking a risk. If I asked the guy sitting next to me to watch my laptop, he might steal it himself! So what am I supposed to do — stay in my apartment all day and night? No, I have to go out there and engage, by which I mean sit amongst strangers with my headphones in and my eyes locked on my screen drinking overpriced kombucha. You never know what’s going to happen to you or your possessions in this city but I do know one thing: even my laptop isn’t worth peeing my pants in a goddamn coffee shop.”