Monday, August 24, 2009

For The Love Of Coffee

I love coffee. It's the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. Depending on my schedule for the day, I either head straight for the shower or straight for the coffee maker as soon as my feet hit the floor.

I was a teenager the first time I ever made a pot of coffee myself. We had an automatic coffee maker at home, but I had never been the one to make the coffee, so I had no idea how much to add. There was a measuring scoop in the can and I assumed I should use one scoop for each cup of coffee. The machine made 12 cups, so I assumed I should add 12 scoops. The basket was so full I couldn't close the lid all the way. Once the water started to pump through, the whole thing overflowed hot water and coffee grounds all over the counter top.

I didn't drink coffee on a daily basis until I started working full time. After the first few days at my new job it became clear that the morning coffee ritual was an important social event among my coworkers. There were unwritten rules for being part of the "coffee club", though. If you were the first person in the office in the morning, you were expected to turn on the coffee maker. If you took the last cup, you were expected to make a new pot unless it was close to the end of the day. In that case you were expected to set the coffee maker up for the next morning. The boss kicked in the money for the coffee, but everyone else in the club took turns going to the store to buy it. Money was collected separately for sugar and creamer.

I said yes immediately when I was asked if I wanted to join the coffee club. I was anxious to fit in with my coworkers. They were already suspicious of me because human resources had made a mistake setting my start date at the time they hired me. The department wasn't expecting me for another two weeks so they didn't have a cubicle or supplies ready for me yet and my boss was on vacation so I had no one to train me. The department head decided to put me in the absent boss's office until my cubicle was completed and give me past month's work to review. This, apparently, led everyone to assume I was a spy from human resources. No one told me that at the time, but I got a lot of curious glances as I sat in the boss's chair and reviewed spreadsheets and reports.

On the first morning that I was part of the coffee club, I tried to time it so that I would get my coffee as some of my coworkers were getting theirs. Instead of pleasant morning conversation, I walked into a debate over who was supposed to bring in more powdered creamer. "I'll bring it in tomorrow morning", I volunteered. It seemed to be fairly effective because I was then included in the conversation and, later in the day, asked to go to lunch with the group.

I hadn't gotten my first paycheck yet, and didn't have a dime to my name, but I was still living at home and knew we had three huge unopened containers of creamer . My grandma, who had a tendency to stockpile things, had given them to my mom because she was running out of room in her pantry. I put them in my car as soon as I got home so I wouldn't forget to take them to work the next day.

When I brought them in, I made an announcement to everyone in the coffee club that there was now a fresh supply of creamer in the coffee room. I made made sure everyone knew I had provided enough for a month or two. I was sure this would score me some points with my new buddies.

Later that day, one of the club members poked her head in my temporary office and asked where I did my grocery shopping. I told her the name of the store and then asked why she wanted to know. She suggested that I let the manager know their stock was outdated. It seems the creamer I had brought in expired in 1977. This was August, 1986. Score one for the new girl!

I fessed up about where I had gotten the creamer and everyone got a good laugh out of it. For the next five years that I worked in that department, I was ribbed about it. Any time I brought in supplies for the coffee room, someone would make a big deal out of checking the expiration dates on the containers. It wasn't the impression I had intended to make, but it turned out to be the ice breaker I needed.

11 comments:

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

What a cute story. I myself LOVE coffee, but no one else in the house drinks it, so I only have to make a small amount every morning. As for work, none of my jobs ever ran a successful "coffee co-op."

ChristineM said...

Ha ha! TOO FUNNY! But yes, a great way to break the ice with your new co-workers - great story to tell!

When I was about 6 or 7, my Dad taught me how to make coffee on our electric percolator. I got the biggest thrill out of getting up early on the weekends, starting a pot of coffee, setting the table for breakfast. I even poured the coffee! It was so hot that I decided to put ice cubes in everyone's cup to cool it down (didn't want anyone to burn their tongue!) They dutifully drank the cold coffee, then each poured a nice hot cup! They never said anything until years later! :)

Thanks for making me remember!

Chicago Mom said...

What a great story! haha! I started drinking coffee in high school when an aunt made it for me with so much cream and sugar in it you couldn't even taste the coffee!

Donna-FFW said...

I too am a coffee fiend. I look forward to it each morning. I have the maker you set the night before so I awake to it.. Couldnt bear not to have it.

Loved your story.. I started in college for exams as a pick me up, now I am thoroughly addicted in a good way. Even love coffee related desserts.

PurpleHoodieChick said...

Haha, that would happen to you! I'm starting to like coffee or atleast trying to. I want to fit in with you and your whole family(besides Mallory)lol.

Kathy said...

Such a funny story! I am not a coffee drinker, I like tea. My grandmother served us teas in fancy tea cups when the girls visited! I have many memories of her involving tea.

Lissaloo said...

What a great story :) I helped my Mommer clean her pantry last year, the dates in there were pretty scary lol :)

Gracey said...

I loved your story - too funny!

I have a coffee story myself. When I was 5 or 6, I decided to prepare breakfast for my parents. I pictured them waking up to it and being thrilled with everything I made for them.

I had no clue how to make coffee, though. So the day before, I asked them how they had their coffee, pretending to be casual about it. "1 teaspoon coffee, 2 teaspoons sugar, no milk" my dad had said. (They both drink the instant kind - yuck!)

Anyway, I had woken up and started preparing it, when 1 teaspoon cofee sounded too little. My little mind could not possibly understand how so little coffee would suffice. So instead, I used 4 or 5 tablespoons per cup, and as much sugar!!!!

Needless to say, my parents' reaction when trying it was not the one I had expected!!!!!!! They spit it out with all the force they had ! LOL

Joanna Jenkins said...

Terrific story. Although I'm not a coffee drinker, I've tried it a few times because coffee-lovers look like they enjoy it soooooo much.
xo

Deidra said...

Great story! I had no idea that powdered coffee creamer had an expiration date. It was the powdered creamer, right?

Clarity said...

Oh that is so funny and a sweet story. I'm glad your colleagues were welcoming afterwards. Isn't it funny how we have no clue what people think of us as "new people"?

Your coffee fixation reminds me of a Bill Hicks routine, "I am just coffee covered in skin right now!"