Hi, I’m Matt. I’ll be heading to the restroom in a minute so I’m vetting a few candidates in the coffee shop to watch my stuff. Proximity is a big factor, as you can imagine, but I don’t want you to think that’s what this is all about. I’ve been watching you for quite some time. You have sympathetic eyes. Soft and kind. That’s what drew me to you.

The state of your computer was also a consideration. Macbook Pro, 13-inch, decent shape, I want to say, 2011? It’s not quite as new as mine, but not old enough that you’d view mine as a significant upgrade. If you had some old chunky Dell with a Calvin and Hobbes sticker and a cracked screen, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Full disclosure: your competition isn’t strong. There’s Homeless Harry over there who’s talking to a sock. There’s the bug-eyed novelist who brought her own hummus and may or may not be wearing pajamas. And then, of course, there’s giant-headphones guy over in the corner who wouldn’t hear it if a thief drove their car right into this place.

I gave some thought to asking the guy at the head of the communal table, the one who set up camp like he’s in his cubicle at MetLife. It would take him a good twenty minutes to pack up and get out of here. Makes him a safe bet, but frankly, I just don’t like him. He’s smug. Sorry, but I’m someone who thinks it’s important to actually like the person who watches their valuable possessions.

Speaking of which, I’m hoping we can take a quick minute to chat and get to know one another a bit. I’m curious about your likes and dislikes, your ambitions, where you got that scar on your cheek, that kind of stuff. Tell me a story. I want to know what makes you tick.

In certain cases in the past, I’ve tested the people I’ve selected with decoy thieves, simply by asking someone else in the coffee shop to walk over and try to take my laptop to see if you’re on your toes. But I don’t think we need to get into that here. Do we?

I want you to know that I’m heading into the restroom with every intention of making a number one, but there’s always the possibility of things transitioning into a number two. I just can’t be certain yet. I’m only telling you this because I need to make sure you’re in this for the long haul in case that becomes a reality.

There’s also a bit of a line, so let’s factor that in as well. Let’s say four minutes for the line, two more minutes for a number one, that’s six minutes, with an additional seven minute bump in the event of a you-know-what, which, is becoming more of a likelihood with each passing moment. All told, we’re looking at a maximum of thirteen minutes. Think about that. Really mull it over. The last thing I want is you yessing me, then getting antsy and distracted.

A few last housekeeping items. I hate to call them rules because that sounds so formal, but to be clear, as part of this understanding you’re agreeing to stay seated at all times while I’m gone. Let’s make sure you don’t have to go the bathroom, too, or are thinking about heading up to the counter for a second scone any time soon. Of course, feel free to make phone calls if you need to, just not the wandering kind.

Under no circumstances will you delegate your watch-over duties to someone else. None of this, “Hey, can you watch my stuff, oh, and that guy’s stuff too?” You might as well just put my things on the sidewalk.

This agreement concludes when I return to my seat and find everything as I left it. At which point you can expect a deliberate and meaningful nod from me, expressing my gratitude and signaling that you’ve officially been relieved of your duties.

I hate to say it but I’m suddenly getting a bit of a bad vibe, here. Something in those eyes, they’ve changed. Turned cold. Tell you what, I’m just going to go ahead and take my laptop into the bathroom with me. Maybe you could just watch my jacket this time around and we’ll see how that pans out.