The Interoffice Coffeemaker Arms Race

The office where I work is in a former home set a fair distance from the rest of the school. I’m alone on the second floor, making me the most outlying member of the school staff. I’m the institutional Pluto.

There are five of us in this building. Sometimes I hear them having a good time downstairs. Sometimes they leave and lock me in. When this occurs, I remind myself that I have a private bathroom.

cofeepotWhat we do share is a coffeemaker, an ordinary drip machine. It’s a chore. Someone (preferably not me) has to rinse the pot, get fresh water, empty the soggy liner, fiddle with the new liner, put it in the basket, grind the beans, guess how much coffee to add, guess wrong, close the lid and press the button. Then we wait. Imagine: having to wait for a cup of coffee! What is this: 2010?

Meanwhile, over in the main building of the school, there are contraptions, one for teachers and one for the administrative staff one floor down. These coffee contraptions have nozzles and spigots, they grind and hiss, they spew milk and foam, with lights and whirs and perfectly proportioned fresh beans, only the best beans. I assume the bad beans it gleans from the machine. It’s a dream.

Something this sophisticated, of course, is prone to fussiness. Whenever a contraption breaks down, an email is hastily sent out. I paraphrase:

“The coffeemaker in the staff room is out of order. REMAIN CALM! During these dark times, we have engaged the services of the finest baristas to deliver freshly brewed artisanal blends in easily manipulated carafes. To make up for the lack of hissing, spewing, foaming, etc., our baristas will personally top anything you want with whipped cream. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience and hope to alleviate the problem ASAP so as not to endanger the very core of our educational system.”

When these emails arrive, I’m tempted to reply, “Come to our office. We have drip!” Then I’d indicate our location with a Google map.

But I don’t. Too sarcastic. Plus, the teachers would say, “Who’s Ross Murray?”

Not to mention the fact that our office likes the contraption too. When I tire of holding out for one of the others to undertake the drip process, I’ll sometimes come downstairs, mug in hand, and announce, “Who wants coffee!”

“Aaah!” they cry. “We didn’t know you were here!” But then they take me up on my offer.

With three mugs in hand, I set out – boots, parka, ration of pemmican. I trek the path, through the cedars, across the road, beside the dining hall, over the tundra, into the main building. I rest a moment to regain my strength. Then, with the press of a button – once, then again – I fill three mugs with rich, perfectly measured coffee.

With Indiana Jones-like dexterity, I carry the mugs back to our office, moving not so slowly as to render the coffee cold, yet not so fast as to slop the precious liquid onto my mukluks.

We on the outer edges of the scholastic solar system have come to accept our fate. In this world, there are the javas and the java-nots. We are the latter, not the latté.

beansLately, though, there’s been a balance shift. After going without for a couple of weeks, the administrative staff has replaced its contraption with… a behemoth.

It’s sleek and square, the size of a beer fridge, with scrolling video screen, language selection, size and strength options, blend selections and choice upon choice. It makes espressos, Americanos, cappuccinos, mochaccinos, muchachos, RalphMacchios. Hot chocolate! It operates with the sound of industry and fashion models and luxury cars.

I have yet to explore its intricacies, but I suspect it will memorize your preference. It will suggest stock market strategies. It will scold you for wearing that purposely ugly Christmas sweater. It will provide parting words to those setting out on long journeys with three mugs in hand. It will someday run for president.

Up one floor, meanwhile, the teachers are stuck with their contraption, steam engine to the administration’s time machine. Will this stand, this archaic, analog coffee-dispenser? Surely they too deserve the state of the art in beandom. In the name of all that is good and teacherly, they too shall have their behemoth!

And when that day comes, I will rise up, and I will speak for all of us (five) who have gone without for so long, who have ground our own beans, cursed the filter, the endless drip, and cried out, “This coffee is mediocre at best!” I will say to them: “We will take your coffee contraption, please!”

To which they will reply, “And you are…?”


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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24 Responses to The Interoffice Coffeemaker Arms Race

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    What is this WP theme like 2010?
    I like you used the word pemmican and linked over to Wiki for it. That’s a word I like to use from time to time but never do. It sounds like it must feel when you chew it. A mouthful, a residue.
    Yeah, I’m contracting at Microsoft now and they have those fancy machines you describe, and when I press all the buttons (which is like a combination) it takes off like a model rocket and sputters and announces itself to everyone, like me when I arrive.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Ha. Like the genie in Bugs Bunny: “I’m here, let the trumpets sound, feast your eyes on me!”
      Glad you liked the link and now feel you may be secretly Canadian. Every kid in Canada learns about pemmican in Grade 6 history class. I didn’t know it transcended borders.

  2. byebyebeer says:

    I should probably google to see how he held up, but I’ll take a RalphMacchio.

  3. List of X says:

    It seems like “stay calm” might be a little tautological coming after “our coffee machine is broken”. After all, don’t you need coffee to have the energy to not keep calm?
    And I don’t think your building’s place in the coffeemaker pecking order guarantees you the contraption after the behemoth makes it obsolete. Best you can hope for is to get sent a bunch of cream-whipping baristas.

  4. Kimball Smith says:

    If you chirp about the coffee you might lose your sofa ………………….

  5. Interesting how administration gets the fancy behemoth.

    Did you also suffer through a snow storm during your mukluk-shod coffee quest?

  6. R. Todd says:

    It’s been a while since I have had the chance to read one of your blogs, but… ahh, to come back to this one. I’m telling you, Lewis Grizzard would be proud.

  7. Coffee: The affordable addiction. The one that won’t cost you your family, your job, your house. So go ahead! Dive right in. How many cups a day of that bad brew are you pounding, sir?

  8. M. Oniker says:

    I had to look up pemmican. I wish I hadn’t. That might have just moved above haggis in the “ewwww” competition.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I like how Wikipedia describes it as “Canadian cuisine.” Uhh, no. But I bet there isn’t a Canadian kid who doesn’t know what it is from History class.

      • M. Oniker says:

        Heh. But you just lost that bet. I was telling a thirty-year-old Canadian about pemmican and he replied, “What’s that?” And also, “Ew” when he read the wiki. 🙂 Seriously, what’s up with that? Tim Bits? Check. Artery clogging goodness of poutine? Check. Even ketchup with Kraft dinners is ick but not *that* ick. 🙂 Good thing we don’t have anything weird like that south of the (Canadian) border. Nope nope nope.

  9. Pingback: One brief shining toilet | Drinking Tips for Teens

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