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.