The Overthinker’s Guide To Being The Only Person In The Coffee Shop Who Can’t Access The WiFi


Welcome to the Overthinker’s Guide — a weekly column that aims to advise overthinkers on the difficult situations that seem to characterize the lives of those who too often succumb to analysis paralysis. This week, I’ll cover being the only person in the coffee shop who can’t access the WiFi.

So: You’re in line at a coffee shop you’ve wanted to go to for awhile because from the outside looking in the place appears to have a great amount of natural light and you heard from your friend who went there last week that a) there are an ample amount of outlets, b) the baristas are WiFi-hobo friendly, c) the two bathrooms are single, unisex, which is especially important to you because relieving yourself around other people is anxiety inducing, and d) the music is not egregious. You’ve just now ordered your standard coffee and are halfway waiting halfway ‘shadow guarding’ a particularly promising corner table at which you’ve spotted underneath not only an outlet but a surge protector which is like, bonus. You’re a bit nervous the table’s going to be taken before you get your coffee. There are at least three other people waiting around for their coffees, standing in various locations in close proximity to the pickup counter in the sort of way you stand around pickup counters, not sure where exactly you should be standing while constantly moving out of the way for passersby while ‘shadow guarding’ your desired table. You’re convinced everyone standing around is scoping out the same position as you unless their order is to-go — which is a possibility you’re obviously hoping for — and you’re wondering Should I do it? Should I go sit down and claim it now and hope I hear my order called? And so you decide to do that. You sit down and your order is quickly called and you open your laptop and use the password you picked up at the counter. But you can’t get your laptop to connect to the WiFi. What’s frustrating is that the laptop is telling you it’s connected to the WiFi but that it can’t connect to the internet. WTF?

Here’s what not to do:

1. Ask people around you if their Wifi is working. Overthinkers don’t do that because overthinkers are uncomfortable talking to people they don’t know because they hate to impose on anything, sentient being or not. While this is an endearing quality the practical ramifications are often crippling. A better alternative is to look over people’s shoulders and see if they’re accessing the internet.

2. Ask people around you for help. Never ask for help. See above.

3. Ask the barista if the WiFi is working. If you’ve seen that other people are using the internet, you can assume the WiFi is working. All asking the barista is going to do is make him or her ask you if you’ve restarted your computer and say that the WiFi is working for everyone else, so it must be your laptop.

Here’s what to do:

1. Take a mental breath. As an overthinker, the last thing you want to do is be forced to interact with another human being about your problems with WiFi, which is the product of a) your own idiocy, b) the coffee shop’s WiFi, or c) the universe shitting on you. Stay calm, take a mental breath, and focus on getting to the root of the problem.

2. Figure out if you’re being an idiot. The most desired reason for your inability to access the WiFi is your own idiocy.

Checklist for figuring out if you’re being an idiot:

  • Is your airport or wireless card turned on?
  • Have you restarted your airport or wireless card?
  • Are you trying to connect to the right network?
  • Do you have the password correct? (Is caps lock on? Are the “o”s actually “0”s? Have you written the password exactly how it was given to you?)
  • If you are connected but unable to access the internet, are you connected
    to the right network?

  • Have you restarted your browsers?
  • Have you tried different browsers?
  • Have you restarted your laptop?

3. Figure out if the coffee shop’s internet is broken. If you’ve crosschecked the above and still are unable to access the Wifi, it’s time to figure out if it’s a problem with the coffee shop’s internet.

Checklist for figuring out if the coffee shop’s internet is not working:

  • Are other people on the internet?

4. Figure out if the universe has taken a shit on you. If other people are on the internet, the coffee shop’s internet is working. If you’ve also deduced that you aren’t being an idiot, you can assume that the universe has taken a shit on you. There can be no other reason. You’ve done everything you normally do when you successfully connect to the wireless and the coffee shop’s internet is functioning properly.

5. Cut your losses and leave the coffee shop.


  • Close your laptop quietly and walk away.
  • Read a book.
  • Attempt to do your work without internet.


  • Blame it on the coffee shop.
  • Spew vitriol under your breath at the universe, the coffee shop, and the quality of their roasted blend.
  • Laugh loudly and say “You may have won the battle this time, universe, but the war is far from over!”
  • Try for an hour to connect to the internet.
  • Complain to anyone other than yourself, using your internal monologue.
  • Come back if you want to use the WiFi.

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