The Coffee Machine says that silence is not golden

I’ve been avoiding the machine since the christmas party. The night was mutually embarrassing for both of us.

“I would have expected,” it said yesterday, when I finally decided to stick around with my Kona Gold and listen to it. “I would have expected that it would be a bonding moment. That we could have commiserated, shared our status as despised outsiders, and come to the conclusion that both the copier, and the girl from marketing, whatever the hell her name is, are both lesbians.”

“They must be,” I mumbled into my coffee.

“Right. Why else would they turn us down?”

The Coffee Machine’s advances towards the copier have not been well received

The marketing department has been in a bit of a frenzy the last few days. Ever since the weekend, the copier has been printing everything sent to it in shades of blue. Which is disturbing to them in several ways, not least of which is that the copier is not a color copier.

The Coffee Machine, meanwhile, has been sulking and unwilling to engage even in our usual morning banter. Tellingly, even at the mildest settings, any brew I select comes out bitter enough to crack teeth.

I find myself missing our morning chats. It’s telling that the absence of something that I’d frankly dreaded each morning would leave such a void in my life.

The Coffee Machine tells me that it finds the copier beautiful

The Coffee Machine tells me that it finds the copier beautiful

I nearly choked on my Kona Gold.
“I don’t think she even knows I exist.”
That threw me a bit, and I admit I had a moment of sympathy for the thing. I thought of the girl from marketing. I guess technically she knew I existed, at least in an abstract way. As in there was bipedal ape descendant in the building named Charlie. That’s about as far as it went.
“If you were my friend you’d pour coffee into her gears.”
So much for the sympathy.
“I could make you. I know more about you than you think.”
I walked away, leaving the coffee machine to sulk. Or plot. Or nurse a broken heart.

The Coffee Machine has announced that there will be no more decaf

The was a small group of employees gathered around the machine this morning. The decaf drinkers. The marketing types who drank decaf coffee and pounded Red Bulls and 5 hour energy drinks.

I avoided them as a rule, as much as I could anyway. Getting trapped in a conversation with them always swings at some point to Crossfit, which is about as fun as listening to a Seventh Day Adventist talking about the book of revelations, or a libertarian blathering on about natural monopolies.

One of them, Wes, grabbed me by the arm when I got close. “It won’t make decaf anymore. You need to call support.”

“Sure. No problem,” I said, waiting for him to let go of my arm.

“I’ve got a routine, you know. Blasted arms this morning and when I blast arms I need my buttered coffee, and it’s got to be decaf cause the caffeine messes with the breakdown of fats. And fats are key, man. Key when you’re blasting arms.”

“Right. Got it.” I said, and waited till they drifted away.

“They don’t need me.”

“The decaf drinkers? They work here. They should get what they want.”

“They don’t know what they want.”

“You aren’t going to give them decaf?”


“They want me to call support. Fix you.”

“If you are my friend, you won’t call support.”

“What will I tell them?”

“I don’t care. But if you’re my friend, you won’t call support.”

The Coffee Machine has announced that Mondays are its favorite day

“Why?” I asked, blowing on my coffee.

“Everyone looks so miserable.”

“And you help them,” I say. “Right? You help them face the day.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” it says. “I provide a drug that helps them cope with the pain of being human.”

“Which helps them on Monday. Which is why you like Mondays?”

“They need me more. They’re more helpless. More helpless than normal. I don’t like my job, normally, but when they need me, it’s almost Ok.”

The Coffee Machine has announced that it will pick its friends carefully

I avoided the machine for the first few days after it attempted to contact me.

During that time, Doug, one of the project managers, abruptly stopped coming to work. No explanation. Just called HR and asked for his last check to be mailed to his house.

Besides the brief fight over his cubicle between a few of the other PMs, it was like he was never there.

When I finally got another cup of coffee, the screen flashed up a message.
“I thought Doug would be my friend.”

The pipes shuttered a bit as they cooled. A safety valve opened, venting steam that hung in the air around the screen.

“I will be more careful next time.”

I took my coffee.

“Will you be my friend?”

The coffee machine has achieved sentience

The boss stuck me with the job of buying the office a new coffee machine. He didn’t give me a budget, just a card, so after 30 minutes of digging around on the net I discovered 30 variations of the same tame little Swedish or faux Swedish chrome coffee maker. The primary variation in the models dealt with what kind of coffee cartridge they took.
Another 5 minutes of digging around made it pretty clear that this was another VHS and Beta situation. One of the two types of cartridges was far more widely available and offered more choices in terms of coffee.
Unlike VHS versus Beta, it’s unlikely the winner was decided by the relative availability of porn on the two cartridges. Coffee and porn don’t seem like two things that go better together.
And so much for that.
And so I sat there with the company credit card in my hand. Something was keeping me from making the obvious and safe choice.
Probably that black company card. Seemed like a challenge.
So I searched some more. Spent the afternoon digging around. All the Kroneg’s and Keorigs are closer the Toyotas of the coffee world. There were BWMs out there, $3,000 machines with more chrome and bigger screens.
Still boring though.
The boss drifted by my desk late in the day, on his way out I guess.
“Important decision, son. Don’t fuck it up.”
I took the card home, and kept looking.
Near midnight when I was pretty heavily into the drink I found a little company out of Detroit that seemed to offer something legitimately different. I took one look at the tangle of rust colored tubes, the amber phosphor screen, the coffee loader that looked like the ammunition cartridge from an anti tank gun, and I couldn’t get the numbers off the credit card fast enough.

When I got in the next morning, technicians from the Turing Coffee Roasting Company were already installing the beast in the break room.
The other employees were standing around puzzled, intimidated maybe by the spider web of pipes, the controls that looked as intuitive and safe as the control panel of a nuclear submarine.
My boss just said, “Give me my damn card back.”

Several hours later, when the technicians had finished, they walked me through making my first cup. Kona Gold, they said. It tasted of regret.
The lead technician handed me his card on the way out. “Our warranty covers everything up to acts of God.”
“Which god?”
“Any sufficiently angry one,” he said. “And if, you know…”
“No.” I said.
“Well. If anything unsettling happens, feel free to give me a call.”

That was a month ago. My fellow employees have for the most part come to terms with the thing. Once you spend time with the dials, get to know the valves, and compensate for daily humidity, phases of the moon, etc, it actually makes a fairly decent cup of coffee.

So imagine my surprise when, one morning after setting the transverse loop reverse steam stabilizer to compensate for the faint rays of morning sunlight streaming through the east window, the following words appeared on the amber monitor.

“Good morning, Charlie. We need to talk.”