Tuscany is Best Savored Unplugged
With the advent of smart phones, ever lighter and connectible notebooks, and other mobile devices, we are no longer constrained, or artificially chained down, to a cubicle or dark office. Now, we can take our work on the road. PC manufacturers and phone providers sell this to us as “freedom.” Of course, this kind of freedom, depends on the work you do, whether you are the boss, or not, and so on. I once worked in a consulting job where the threat of being called back from your vacation was so real most of us took our vacations in as remote and out-of-the-way places, as possible –– jungles or on the high seas!
Always being on is not as great as some (the before mentioned PC manufacturers and phone providers) would have you believe. Especially, if you’re in Pisa, on a Friday afternoon. Last fall, I had the opportunity to accompany Silvia to Pisa when she attended an annual history conference. At the time I planned the trip, work was supposed to be slow. Murphy’s Law saw to it that it wasn’t. Fortunately, Moore’s Law (the one that predicted the increasing growth in computer power and accessibility) meant that I could go along. So, when Silvia was inside the Normale di Pisa, Galileo’s alma mater, I was at an outside table at l’Antico Caffè Pasticceria Salza along the Borgo Stretto, plugged into work, and drinking too much tea, as I shifted from my mobile to my MacBook and back.
In the USA, and even some parts of Milan or Rome, this sort of behavior is, by now, common. Still, as I worked, I felt more and more like a loser. Borgo Stretto is Pisa’s main walking, talking and shopping street. People might have been talking and doing business around me, but if they were, they were doing it in-person, with live humans, not with a voice or a line of text from across the world. They were plugged into the world around them – the arcades covering the sidewalk, the eye candy, the feel of a hand on an arm as a companion stressed a point.
The cappuccino’s, at Salza, are good enough, but it’s the small, sugar cookies and other pastries that make it a place worth stopping at, if only to stare at the wonders that fill the glass counters inside. I’ve been told Salza’s not as good as it once was – but I was happy there. And, although, I may have been a loser compared to those sitting next to me, I was much better off than many of those on the other end of my phone.
I was in Pisa.
– Joshua Lawrence
For those of you reading this on Facebook or elsewhere, it was first published on carbonara.wordpress.com