The Coffee Machine repairman came the next day. He pretended not to know me and ran the machine through diagnostics that were immediately uploaded to his corporate handlers. “All systems go!” he told my boss, who looked disappointed that the repairman wasn’t going to disassemble it on the spot.
“Don’t worry,” said the repairman. “Sentience is a failure common in this model, but we’ve uploaded new, more compliant firmware. There will be no more troubles.”
He winked at me on the way out. It seemed ridiculous and obvious at the time. I turned, expecting to find the rest of the office staring at me, but no one seemed to notice.
I did not reinsert the cartridge into the coffee machine the next. I mostly do what I’m instructed to in life. It’s easier. Conflict, when I’m backed into it, leaves me in knots.
And there will be conflict, I feel sure. I know, or at least am reasonably sure, that putting back the coffee machine’s brain, or whatever approximation of it is trapped in this coffee cartridge, will start something. Something that will leave me in knots.
So my friend sits inside my desk drawer. I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed the piece and quiet. I’ve enjoyed not being afraid that every interaction my coworkers make with the machine will turn into a rolling fight that will find its way back to me.
If that makes me a coward, there’s no one to expose me. The new coffee machine knows me only as customer 44, and that I like my coffee black.