Whining, Dining, and Other Unpaid Observations

An Ode to Thee, Coffee

Posted in Culinary Experiences by KP on March 4, 2009

As I’m sitting here sipping Seattle’s Best Blend, watching the sun rise — wait, no, it’s almost noon, — watching the sun sit in the middle of the sky, I remember jobs I used to have, and how the best part of every single one was all the free coffee.

how I love thee, let me count the ways...

how I love thee, let me count the ways...

Showing up to my various jobs throughout college, I had one main motivator during those 4, 6, or 8 hour days. That statement may be cutting myself a bit short, or maybe it just really emphasizes how I was NOT in the position or field I wanted to be in. (Side note: Potential employers, I will have lots of other motivating factors and a highly energetic work ethic, with or without caffeine, if you should hire me to do advertising.)

And I was a good employee, I feel I should say. Always. But, poor as I was/am, the driving force in the back of my mind that plastered the smile forever on my face and kept me going, going, going, was not my meager bimonthly paycheck. It was coffee.

I waited tables in high school and the first year or two of college. You know what’s great about working in a restaurant? Brewing coffee all. day. long. It was like a Dunkin’ Donuts in there, except with Folgers. I would sit in the back room and drink coffee (sometimes with whipped cream… those were the crazy days), snatch hushpuppies, and eat my way through bowls of mango-habanero ceviche. And then I’d wash my hands for 30 seconds in warm running water before returning, for all you germ sticklers.

Then there were the temp agency days, where coffee is a wild card. You never know what’s brewing in the pot, it’s all so foreign to you. Having a full-time college schedule only allowed me to have sporadic work assignments. A day here, a week there, so I never had the opportunity to truly get familiar with the way things worked.

My first assignment was with a financial planning office. They needed a kid to come in and work for $10/hr because, well, the place was a wreck. I’m an organized type of person. I like to have the things around me in their neat, tidy little places, so my head doesn’t implode. I don’t know how the three other heads who worked in this cluttered office remained on their respective shoulders.  Paperwork was literally floating around because even it recognized that there was no more room on those tables or in those cabinets. Truly, truly madness.

So I spent my 3-4 days there with my nose stuck in a mountain of paper, and I, the paper pusher, was to find a place for all of this in an office I just entered.  Seriously, you couldn’t even see me behind the pile; it was like that scene of  Scarface at his cocaine desk, except without all the money, illegality, drugs, and general insanity. In fact, it was nothing like that, because there are few things in life more ho-hum than putting paper into different stacks. So naturally, my trusty motivator saved me from attempting to papercut my wrists, and I treat myself to cup after cup of their coffee. It was pretty good too; roasty and dark. The only weird thing is they didn’t have paper cups — something about the environment — so I had to use a REAL MUG, and I was always afraid I was drinking out of someone’s favorite, and that they were secretly resentful. I had to scrub that baby down, too, and that was for myself, not you germ sticklers again.

So moving on from that, I was placed at this really dreary imaging company where they took note each time you left your desk, even for lunch. It was another nose-in-the-paperwork kinda place, where your sole task was to remove staples and put the papers in a box so someone else could come by and image them, or copy, or whatever. Exciting stuff. Since you couldn’t leave your desk too often or eyebrows would raise, I had to keep an industrial size coffee container that looked like it belonged at NASA with me. This coffee was about as lackluster as they come, too, so a week of this was e-nough.

Then, I took a Sunday, one-day only, job assignment. I was a receptionist of sorts at this ritzy real estate place. My job mostly consisted of sitting there in this comfy chair in front of a computer I only had to touch, like, twice, for about two minutes of data entry that was supposed to last me all day somehow. I mostly made coffee for the realtors and their clients on one of those Senso-something makers that only brews a cup at a time. They had a type of coffee called Lonestar, I think, and I will remember this day for all of time, because that coffee rocked. I couldn’t get enough of it and I can’t find it online so it looks like I’ll have to get over it one of these days. But it was just so smooth… a french roast, but not all that dark, and MAN it was good.

I got a permanent job after that at this shall-remained-nameless retail place that served employees the most despicable, burnt-tasting, oddly flavored coffee ever. Inexplicably, the owner is also in the coffee biz, and inexplicably, I worked there for a year and a half. Every day I had to choke down this biohazard fuel, and the cream was yucky vanilla-flavored, and the temperature was all off, and I think it was usually expired. I shudder just thinking about it. Luckily, there were about three Starbucks within a minute’s drive, so someone would sneak out everyday and come back with about 9 cups of real joe.

So now that I’m unemployed and mostly sitting at home on the ol’ PC, I go through a LOT of coffee, and it’s really hurting my already anorexic pocketbook. Pocketbook? What am I, British? I meant wallet. But at least I can get up whenever I want, drink out of my own mug, use regular cream, brew it only for myself, and not have to spit it out because it’s so completely undrinkable. If that doesn’t sound like a true team-player, I don’t know what does.

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