Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The working life: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

You guys, I came to coffee late in life, which is of great sadness to me because I think about all the missed coffee opportunities that I can never reclaim. I didn't sip coffee in coffee houses in Chile or Brazil or Ecuador or Guatemala. I didn't try coffee in Italy when I was there with my sister taking the cooking class in the afternoons and the language class in the mornings, the language class where one of our first lessons was about all the different kinds of coffee to be found in Italy: macchiato, espresso, cortado (that might be Spanish), etc.

I didn't try coffee in Spain or France until a few years ago.

I started my coffee journey with the gateway coffee: mocha. SH and I were traveling and decided to try one. He had started to drink coffee so he could stay awake during business meetings when he traveled. They all seemed to start at the unreasonable hour of 8 a.m., well before any rational person has gotten up, so he needed the caffeine.

I tried a mocha and thought, "This is chocolate milk with a little bit of coffee flavor in it."

I liked it. It was good, if a little too sweet. But I kept drinking it and then when SH bought a coffee maker for our house, I thought, "I bet I can make this at home."

And I could and I did.

Then I discovered that caffeine was the main provenance of my headaches, so I had to switch to decaf, so I just bought a jar of instant decaf and made my homemade decaf mocha that way.

Then I thought, "I might like plain coffee," and I did, as long as I added enough milk and cream.

I still used the instant coffee, but noticed that it did not taste as good as the occasional latte I would buy from the coffee shop formerly known as Alterra and now known as Colectivo, a name bestowed by people who have obviously never been in a colectivo before, because anyone who has ridden in a shared taxi in Latin America knows that is not the image you want to give to your brand.

I started to develop a coffee palate, as did SH. Which meant we started to get the Good Beans and grind them ourselves. And we started to notice that hotel coffee is swill and would pay to get Good Coffee at a coffee shop rather than drink the Free Swill at the Hilton Garden Inn or wherever we were. (Maybe Hilton has good coffee - I can't remember. But the place we stayed in Memphis last month had really crummy coffee.)

Once I had to get a job - I know, I know - you weep for me that after several years of being a golddigger I was forced to rejoin the working world that almost everyone else participates in as almost none of us are trustafarians - I realized coffee was even more important.

For one thing, walking from the office to the coffee shop was a way of getting away from The Man. All I will say is I am friends - as in, we have socialized with each other even after I am not longer sharing a workspace with them - with almost every boss I have ever had. The only one I am not friends with is the guy who laid me off and I would still meet him for coffee if he asked.

I do not see that ever happening in my current situation. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

So coffee at work - a big deal. A  nice little break in the morning, a way to socialize with my work friends, a little treat to make up for the dreariness of working for The Man, of getting up at 5:45 a.m., of waiting for the bus when it's 18 degrees (in November),  of having to do the TPS reports that nobody reads, of being in a cubicle, of having to hear the people around me eat carrot sticks and dry granola all day long.

Coffee: one of the few good things that happens in my day before 5:25 p.m., which is when I return home.

But I am not profligate. I do not buy coffee every day. It is not cheap, and my take-home pay after taxes is not that much. It's demoralizingly not that much - such is life when one returns to the workforce after a long absence: one must take pay that is much less than one earned before.

So I do not waste money on coffee. Indeed, I have a strategy: on coffee day, I buy the largest size available, where the cost per ounce is the lowest, but then only drink half the cup. I save the remaining half for the next day. I write my name on the cup and I put it in the break room fridge and the next day, I take the cup to the microwave and heat it and voila! coffee!

I have been using this strategy for over a year.

Yesterday, I went to the fridge to retrieve my coffee.

I looked in the door where I always put it.

It was gone.

I closed the door, opened it, and looked again.

It still wasn't there.

I closed the door again. Waited a few seconds. Opened it again. Not there. Not anywhere else in the fridge. It was gone gone gone.

Someone had stolen my coffee. With my name on it. Someone had stolen it.

I stormed back to my desk. Then I went to my friend's desk. Told her what happened.

"Oh," she said. "I bet I know what happened. I've seen Carly throw things away out of the fridge."

"What?" I asked.

"Yeah, I was in the kitchen and saw her toss a cup of coffee once. She said, 'That's been in there a while.' I didn't realize it wasn't her coffee until Maggie [our mutual co-worker] came over to me an hour later and said that her coffee was gone! Carly threw away Maggie's coffee! It had been in the fridge for one day!"

I seethed. That bitch. Throwing away someone else's coffee. Who does that? Well, obviously, Carly.

I went over to Carly's desk to ask if she had tossed my coffee, but she was out for the day.

So I made a sign and put it on the fridge, telling people not to throw things away that do not belong to them. I was tempted to go to Carly's desk and throw away her food, but decided that might not be such a good idea. But I will be watching her like a hawk. And I will now have to put a sign on the coffee similar to what I had to write on my Dr Peppers after they started to disappear - I put a sticky note that said, "Don't touch. I have ebola." I will write, "Carly, touch this coffee and  you are a dead woman."


webb said...

This is a problem everywhere I have ever worked, but not usually throwing it away. Usually it's eating everything.

We once found that the culprit was the big boss - who normally ate nothing but tuna (well, that's a story in itself!).

Good to call her hand on this, before it happens again. I hope she is big enough to go buy you a new coffee. Probably not.

Gaylin said...

I live in coffee central, the Pacific Northwest . . . I have 1 or 2 coffees a year (usually the fancy milkshake types). Neither my heart nor my guts can abide the stuff. I love the taste, not the resulting affects.

I have thrown stuff out of the fridge at work - usually the things with bulging lids and mould factories inside them! I figure if yogurt is 8 months past its best buy date - no one can safely eat it.

As for Carly - tell her the internets demand she buy you a new coffee!

Michelle said...

Maybe try putting your name and the date on your coffee? At my old office, the policy was that anything without a date would be tossed, and items with a date would be tossed after a week to prevent a build-up of nasty, rotten food in the fridge and no space for our lunches.

cf said...

My name was on it!