1) Tim Hortons
The first place on the list is a Tim Hortons which, already, disqualifies it as a potential place to write. Dark, ugly and always empty (at least at this hour), this place is as gloomy as a bad haunted house during an electrical outage and is more likely to scare than inspire. The seats are the most uncomfortable I have ever sat on and staying on them for too long can technically be considered torture. In several ways, this Tim Hortons serves to bring the full Guantanamo Bay experience and could represent a hot tourism spot, at least at this time of the day (and at any, should you choose to drink its coffee). The employees themselves are total assholes (all of them, but this is a common side effect of working at a Tim Hortons, especially night shifts) and roam around the restaurant randomly, nosily prying into your work, subtly coughing to remind you that you should have left hours ago and that the floor is harder to mop with you still there, or maybe it’s because I gave then a ten-cent tip on a one-dollar iced coffee. Seriously, that’s still a 10% tip for a take-out, what is he bitching about? I can visualize his thought process: “This guy has been here for almost ten minutes, what does he thinks this is? A Starbucks? If we could charge six bucks for a coffee, we sure as hell would!”
Sometimes, when there are two employees (typically on Saturdays), one will linger behind you as he cleans in a desperate attempt to read what you’re working on. On this, I have to give them credit: I didn’t know night shift employees at Tim Hortons knew how to read. From time to time, a police officer will rush in, ordering a “doughnut and coffee” in the most cliché pastiche of modern investigation techniques, scornfully glaring at you from a distance as if only criminals would attempt to do any work at a Tim Hortons (including the employees there). On this, I can again only commend them: trying to get anything done at a Tim Hortons is indeed quite a nugatory process.
Still, I have to give credit where it is due: first, Tim Hortons always has free tables and offers the fastest and most reliable internet I’ve ever seen (better than my own). The prices are more than reasonable and the music is low and unobtrusive. There is very little noise and it’s pretty easy to concentrate – just make sure bring a chair pillow and know your rights in case a police officer decide you’re a lookout for a planned robbery of the place.