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Starbucks Typewriter Guy Is Here to Answer All Your Burning Questions

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As you may remember, yesterday, we put up a post poking fun at this then-stranger who'd been photographed using a typewriter in Starbucks by one of his fellow students. Cries of rage soon followed from both sympathizers and opponents alike. This man's typewriter and our mocking tone struck a chord. For some of you, a very deep, perhaps-could-be-helped-with-therapy chord.


But it didn't end there. This young man, who we now know as the SUNY Purchase Creative Writing Major Zachary Schepis, got in touch with us over e-mail, ready and willing to get his rogue typewriter's tale out to the public. Fortunately for us, Zach has a sense of humor, and was willing to answer some of our questions. But now it's your turn. He'll be around for the next hour or so to answer whatever you have to throw at him down below. Take it away.

Why the typewriter?

Just recently, one of my good friends moved in with me and brought his grandmother's antique typewriter. So I started messing around, and there were a few things I liked. When I'm using Microsoft Word, staring at that bright screen kind of zaps some of the creative process from me, and there are lot of distractions with laptops. Plus, I'm one of the biggest self-editors. I'll write something and instead of forging ahead like you should, I'll go back and start tweaking things. With a typewriter, you need conviction. If you want to go back and fix something, you have to white it out or edit it later. So it helps me sustain momentum and get to the piece. Also, just listening to the rhythm of the keys—it's a completely different experience.


About how long ago did you start using the typewriter?

About 4 months ago. I haven't been using it for very long, I'm still getting through some of the kinks, but I really do enjoy it.

Do you use it in public often?

No, I usually use it in my apartment. I live in the Bronx next to Van Cortlandt park, and there's some really nice spots where I can type outside. The reason why I was typing at the Starbucks is because I'm a commuter near SUNY Purchase, and I was going to work on my senior project that day at my friend's apartment. The Smith Corona typewriter that I have is really sleek; it's very portable. But my friend wasn't home, so I couldn't get in. I was debating where to go to do it, and I didn't want to be obnoxious, so I decided not to go to the library. (Although the model I have doesn't really make a whole lot of noise.)


Really the only other two places I had as options (since it was kind of cold out) were the school cafeteria and the Starbucks, which is the other place on campus. So I went to the Starbucks and I tried to find someplace kind of inconspicuous, so I tried to stay away from the groups of people that were typing their papers on their lap tops or reading. So I picked a spot near the window, near the checkout line, where people were just kind of coming and going and there was less concentration and study. But I guess it didn't prove to be too inconspicuous because I was still a spectacle, it seems.

Has anyone ever come up and asked about it?

That was really the first time that I got a lot of attention for using it. Usually when I'm in the park, people don't pay much attention. But at Starbucks that day when I was writing, I was in there for a couple hours working on this memoir for my best friend that passed away, and I was getting into it. I was kind of ignoring the fact that there were other people around me. But every once in a while someone would just come over and out of curiosity ask me about the typewriter. You know, "why did you use the typewriter?," "how does it work?", basic questions like that. People seemed pretty surprised to see it.


What are your thoughts on the kinds of responses you've been getting?

I was a little bit shocked. Before it showed up on Gizmodo, some guy at SUNY Purchase took a picture of me and put it on Facebook, and there was a whole lot of heat there. I thought that was really going to be the end of it. But I don't know, I guess I was just really shocked to see how fired up people are about an old writing instrument. It's pretty incredible. I really don't know what to even think about it. People get inflamed pretty easily and make big deals out of trivial matters. But I don't know, I think the whole thing is funny.


Anything else to add?

I would just tell anyone out there to not worry what other people think about you. Go your own way, and do everything you do and do it with conviction.