Monday, September 1, 2008

The Fuel of Industry

Where I work, we have coffee machine that dispenses many different kinds of drinks, from espresso to café au lait to hot chocolate. It is, as you can imagine, one of the finer fringe benefits to my workplace.

It used to be that I drank one cup of coffee a day, back when I had to pay for it myself, right in the morning to get started. But now, I drink one cup a day, followed by another four cups to get through the morning, then one cup after lunch, then another one just before I drive home so I don't nod off.

Yes, I am a bit jittery, and there has been some insomnia, and occasionally I distinctly detect the aroma of burnt coffee grounds when I pee, but other than that there have been no side effects. My wife says I'm paranoid, but I swear that the PBA really is monitoring our house.

So this morning, as always, after I'd turned on my computer I grabbed my cup and headed down the hall to the coffee machine. See, that's the essence of multitasking: while the computer warms up, so do I.

It's like going to take a dump while you're waiting for a 5-MB e-mail that you sent to thirty people to finally process: you and your computer acting as one. I'm practically a cyborg in this regard.

But when I got to the machine, it was out of service. The coffee man was in the process of adding new beans, changing the filter, and checking the level of water, milk, and other stuff. Only the coffee man wasn't there; his cart was, and the machine was open with his keys in it, but nothing else was going on.

"Where's the coffee guy?" I asked the unfortunate bastard whose office faces the machine.

"He just opened the machine and left," the guy said. Then he called me a string of expletives for asking, because he's not the keeper of the coffee machine guy.

There's a reason the sorry SOB has that office. It was supposed to be mine, but I suck up to the boss in order to keep things like that from happening to me.

[Let me note in passing that whoever decided that it is legal for the coffee people to change the machine out at 8 AM should be beaten with a sack of nickels. The coffee machine should only be out of service in the afternoon, never in the morning, and absolutely never on Monday morning.

I think it should be a crime, in fact.]

Lacking legal protection, I did what any rational person would do: I decided to wash out my cup. I like to clean it when the encrustation of filth gets so thick that it begins to cause coffee to spill out when I fill it, thus impacting how much I can drink. We weren't yet to that point, but better safe than sorry. Besides, it beats doing work.

I don't know how long it takes to load my computer, but I'm guessing it's like thirty minutes. It'd be longer, but I haven't converted to Vista yet.

I went into the bathroom and ran some water from the sink into my cup. As I stood there, the door to the toilet cubicle opened, and out came the coffee guy.

He looked like death, but not yet warmed over. He was beet-red, sweating, and he stank. I don't know if he was out tying one on all night or what, but he looked like he'd been eating off the floor of a seedy movie theater. And judging by the stink coming from our only toilet cubicle, it was just as out of service as the coffee machine now.

"Hello," he said as he breezed by me and WALKED RIGHT OUT OF THE DOOR WITHOUT WASHING HIS HANDS AT ALL!

Let me repeat that last bit if you missed it:


I exited the bathroom to see him putting his feces-covered hands all over everything, rubbing his doodie germs on filters, bean containers, and water spigots with equal abandon. It was like watching a horror movie in slow-mo.

There were now two choices available to me:

1) Not drink any coffee
2) Drink some coffee and maybe die

What could I do? I had to have coffee.

So I hatched this cunning plan: I went up and down that hallway saying "Good Morning" to people, shaking hands and brandishing my empty cup, and asking them if they wanted to grab a coffee with me.

"He just cleaned it, so the beans are extra fresh!" I insisted.

I got enough takers to go ahead of me (5) that I figure they flushed out the machine pretty effectively. Then, and only then, I trusted in the power of hot water and coffee to keep me from being in any real intestinal distress myself and had the first of my five cups.

Only I had ten, because I'm really nervous now that I've got Pharaoh's revenge again, only this time Pharaoh will be in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.

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