March 14, 2001
Hot Black Water


Someone anonymously posted the following -- *editorial highlights* included -- on the lunchroom bulletin board at work this morning:
© Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Upscale coffee and beverages like cappuccino, espresso and latte are becoming de rigueur at many companies.

"When you get hot black water versus Seattle's Best or Starbucks, it makes a real statement about you as an employer or you as a client," said Richard Wyckoff, president of Philadelphia's Aramark Refreshment Services. "It's the difference between a pat on the back and a slap in the face."

The number of gourmet coffee drinkers in the United States shot up 18 percent last year, Wyckoff said, citing a National Coffee Association study. The report also showed that besides the home, the office is the preferred locale for coffee consumption.

Wyckoff even linked the nation's financial health to the availability of quality joe.

"How do you keep the 24-7 economy moving if you don't have a good cup of coffee?" he asked.

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I don't imagine this is going to sit well with management  --  this blatant (albeit safely-chickenshidt-anonymous) jab at stoopid corporate policy  --  but I can't imagine that they'll be too surprised.

After all, it's not exactly a secret that a lot of my co-workers are less than thrilled with the latest *coffee developments* around the Totem Pole Company. In the past half-year or so,  in an ongoing effort to drastically cut back on office overhead/refreshment-service-dependence/employee productivity, we've gradually been downgraded from free, abundant Peet's French Roast ... to a sort of generic Costco "Blend" ... to what we've got now: a product ominously called "Smart & Final Para Restaurantes."

"Hot black water" indeed.

Still, you don't usually hear a lot of grumbling about the coffee. At least ... not out loud. So I'm sure the new Office Manager is seething in his little tassled loafers, right about now. In fact, I'll wager that the coffee article has magically disappeared from the bulletin board altogether by tomorrow morning ... and in its place will be a constipated little corporate memo, all about how each and every news item must be "authorized" before being posted on the bulletin board, from now on.

What's most interesting to me about this situation, however, isn't whether we're drinking Peet's French Roast around the office anymore, or Costco Generic Blend, or Smart & Final Restaurant Grind ... or caffeine-enhanced potting soil, for that matter ...

... but how little I actually care, one way or the other.

A few months ago I would have been completely tied up in knots over this whole stoopid Office Coffee Issue. I would have been running all over the Totem Pole Company, trying to drum up support for a *Let's All Spit In Our Boss's Coffee!* protest effort ... weeping in the Ladies Room during my lunch hour ... writing lengthy, anguished journal entries for the website, all about how this was the last fudking straw, and how I wasn't going to sit still for this indignity, and how I'm going to start sending out that résumé again RIGHT NOW, I swear to god. I would have been taking the whole thing extremely personally, as though switching to a cheaper coffee was a decision made purely for the sake of making *my* office life just that much more unbearable.

And of course I would have brought as much of that misery home with me as possible.

But now I think, They're serving swill instead of coffee? Fine. If it's really that bad, I'll go downstairs to the coffee cart and buy a latte.

I'm simply not as emotionally invested in a lot of the silly, fudked-up Totem Pole ridiculousness as I was, just a few short weeks ago. It's almost as though the more time and distance I put between Franz and me  --  the more chance I have to heal, and for all of the icky FranzToxins to leave my body, and for my job to go back to just being ajob again, rather than a prison sentence  --  the more relaxed and imperturbable I become about virtually everything work-related.

No more bottled Calistoga in the office refrigerator? I'll bring my own from home.

They've swapped out my top-of-the-line, bells-and-whistles-intensive Canon Copier 2001 for a decrepit Accounting Department relic, without telling me? Whatever.

The Totem Pole Company Spring BBQ has been cancelled? Thank god.

They want to move me again -- out of my groovy little window office, overlooking Lake Merritt -- to a different window office down the hall, closer to my boss? Just don't break any of my snowglobes this time.

It's not that I don't care about any of this stuff anymore. It's just that I care so much less than I used to.

And I've got the cup of hot black water sitting in front of me to prove it.

two years ago: change of address
one year ago: memo to the airlines

throw a rock