26
Jan
11

too much time at the watering hole?

Reader M.S. writes:

My problem is my favorite hangout. As a freelance writer, I don’t work in an office and I could work whenever and whereever that I want. I just feel that I am spending too much time at my hangout. Now, like I said, I’m still very productive and I have not gotten any backlash at all, so they have no problem with me using their wi-fi. It’s just that I am there five days and 20 hours a week. I have not been blessed with a lot of friends in my (soon to be) 30 years of life and to find a group of people that respect me and see me as a friend (at least some of them do) has been something that has been very refreshing for me. I guess my question is: is there anything wrong with hanging out in a resturant/bar (I sit at the bar because I am friends with a couple of the bartenders, but I don’t drink) for so much time? I like to think I’m a smart, unique individual, but I am still going to ask if this is okay. I’d feel a lot better if I was wasting time in a library or Starbucks, rather than Hooters, even if I would be doing the same thing no matter where I was. The other thing about this is that I take the subway to get there because I live in a different borough than where the resturant is, so it’s not like I could pop in after work for 30 minutes and then leave, I kind of have to stay for an hour or two at least to justify the trip.

So am I worrying about something that I should not be worried about, because I do have other problems like getting writing gigs and how I’m going to make money as a freelance writer. Or should I try to find other hobbies and split my time more? At this point, I’m either at home, at a computer lab at Brooklyn College or this place. Is that bad?

Dear M.S.:

I’m going to quote Hamlet on this one: Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, 250-251)

old man on a computer

You can stay home to do work when you're old. Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I say if you’re enjoying yourself and you’ve found a nice group of people, there is no problem going somewhere regularly to do your work, even somewhere like Hooters. Even if you don’t drink. Even if you’re opposed to ogling amply-busted women. If none of these issues is keeping you from going to your favorite hang out, then going there is more positive for you than not going there.

 

But if you’re really having trouble with it, maybe you do need to find somewhere else to hang out. What I mean is, if you’re thinking it’s bad, it’ll be bad.

I’ve talked about this before, but in linguistics we talk about the difference between prescribed rules and described rules. Prescribed rules are the ones that we enforce on language; the grammar our second grade teachers push into our heads so that we write well. (Like using “well” instead of “good” in that last sentence. That’s prescribed.) Described rules are those that you come up with if you just sit back and listen; the actual rules people use when they’re not thinking about it and are just talking. When you’re not applying prescribed rules, the described rules that you naturally follow can be quite different.

I find the same is true in the rest of life. Prescribed rules say nice girls don’t sleep with a guy on the first date. Prescribed rules say guys who don’t drink shouldn’t hang out at bars. Described rules say otherwise.

Take a look at the rules you’re holding yourself to and decide if they’re really the rules you believe in. Are you really the type of guy who hangs out at libraries? Apparently not. Is there anything wrong with being the guy who uses the Wi-Fi at Hooters? Survey says: no.

Ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable with the issue in the first place. Is it your social image? Is it rules your parents taught you? Is it comments from friends or family? Are you spending more money than you’re making?

If you can reconcile your feelings of inclusion and love (yep, having people know your name somewhere is love) with your feelings of moral or financial obligation or whatever else is going on in your head, then you’re okay.

You can look for freelance work anywhere. You and I both know that’s true. You might as well enjoy yourself while you do it. As long as your work isn’t suffering, there’s nothing wrong happening here.

I say, since you’re a writer, write down how you feel. Do a pros and cons list. Figure out just what it is that’s bothering you so much about this and either come to terms with it or let it keep you from going back. (Apparently, it’s not so far, so my guess is it’s not really that big of a deal to you.)

If you just need outside assurance that what you’re doing is okay, here it is: Kat Cox says it’s okay. Hooters is not a bad place unless you think it is. Hell, I’m not one to draw lines in the sand about these sorts of things, but if you have to, tell yourself the following:

It’s not a strip club. You’re not doing anything illegal. You’re not getting into trouble. You’re getting work done. You’re fulfilling your social needs. You’re stimulating the economy. And who knows, you might just be making somebody’s day.

As far as finding other hobbies goes, yes, you should probably find some other hobbies eventually. I think everyone should have myriad hobbies. I know it’s cold in Brooklyn right now, but once the spring hits, you should find some social team to be a part of that’ll get you outside of your house (and Hooters). There are lots of things to do in NYC.

Plus, any place gets old after a while. The group dynamic at your bar will change somehow. Your favorite bartenders may leave or move on. Someone new may come in that you can’t stand. It happens. You’re probably going to find a new place to go, too, eventually. Just be prepared for that.

But for the time being: you’re doing just fine.

 

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1 Response to “too much time at the watering hole?”


  1. 1 Mustafa Samiullah
    January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks a lot, I do feel better.


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