We’ve talked about this before, and I actually circulated copies of a similar post to actual bar and restaurant owners, about free wi-fi in bars and restaurants.
But now, please pay attention, all ye bar and restaurant owners:
Memo: We STOPPED going to restaurants and bars just to eat and drink.
All of you need to come alive to this very simple fact.
The line between the two – eating and drinking vs using internet-connected gadgets – is not even thin. In the past, BEFORE the internet was so available and mobile phones did not automatically make sense as receptacles for heavy duty entertainment and connection with other people, we didn’t have much of a choice.
But now, we can carry THE INTERNET around with us, so there is absolutely no reason to stop life just to eat and drink.
Look around you any time you are in a cafe, a bar or a restaurant – everybody is either looking down at their phones, propped-up iPads or laptops, or they occasionally do things like talking with each other or taking bites out of the food, but punctuate it every so often by glancing at something connected to the internet.
This is not about etiquette or table manners, though.
I just need all owners and operators of bars and restaurants to realise this and GIVE US FREE WI-FI AND ELECTRICITY SOCKETS!
Twenty years ago, before that September 11 attack by al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers of New York and the Pentagon, we had bars in Kampala institute security checks on patrons as a matter of course.
These security checks didn’t use metal detector probes and stuff like that; they simply placed desks at their entrance points and asked you to pay a little money before letting you in specifically on Saturdays.
In most cases, the cash you paid at the entrance entitled you to drinks valued at exactly the same amount as you had paid.
Because many people had picked up the habit of walking into bars to watch Premier League soccer games and spent hours there filling up seats and not buying a single drink. Worse, some of them even sneaked in ‘Quarters’ or sachets of alcoholic drinks.
A few years after that, I remember reading how Starbucks had introduced free wi-fi in all their outlets in the United States and was wistful.
And I knew then that good things would be coming my way soon – it was only a matter of time.
We are almost there, and already there are some places in Kampala and beyond that some of us utilise regularly just because they offer either open access or a free code to the wi-fi even before you’ve placed your first order.
I have it so good that even my children know how to choose our dinner locations, provided we all won’t be face down on our gadgets during the night out.
So imagine my horror the other week to find myself having an emergency stop over at a restaurant on Nakasero Hill to finish off a Proposal I needed to hand in by deadline hour, and after running my battery right down to 1%, realising that all the sockets had been RIPPED OUT!
The waiting staff refused to acknowledge my disbelief and confirmed that this was deliberate.
“There are NO sockets,” they told me, with a firmness that suggested they were tired of this question.
“You mean…? You mean…?” I tried to begin, but was cut short with an even firmer, “NO. No sockets!” from a lady who seemed to have spent years being irritated by the sight of people plugging in phone and laptop chargers to drain her employer’s electricity.
The words flabbergasted and nonplussed applied squarely but I was composed enough to cancel my breakfast order and pay for the already delivered coffee, drink down half of it, and then flee for a more sensible location.
Seriously, we don’t need restaurants or bars for us to sit at and eat food. We can order for food over the internet now!
This is very straightforward stuff, so let’s not dilly dally discussing it – If you want us to come in through your doors to order for coffee, drinks and food, then please tie up a deal with an internet service provider and install enough sockets so we can charge up whatever we have.
After that, it’s up to your waiters and waitresses to keep plying us with food and drink so that the entire arrangement is profitable.