The Kona tastes contrite this morning.
The coffee machine has been minding its manners lately, which everyone in the office seems to accept, but has put me slightly on edge.
It’s not quite accurate to say I don’t trust the thing. I do. I trust it to be itself, which is a treacherous knot of stainless steel piping. Saying that the coffee machine is up to something is rather like declaring that the sky is blue.
That being said, I can’t for the life of me figure it out.
He apparently offered that up while serving the VP of sales his 3rd Vanilla Soy Latte of the morning. I just told him it was a bug and I’d report it to the manufacturer.
I tried talking to him, the machine, to get an idea of what was wrong, but those words just stayed on the screen, slowing burning into its phosphor display.
I spent a lot of time at my desk that day, thinking about the machine while project management generated a tangled mess of work tickets around another poorly thought out initiative that will likely flame itself out in six months. I’ve often thought that the simplest thing would to do nothing except tell them that their project is behind schedule but being furiously worked on, and just keep that line up until they lose interest.
Something keeps me from doing it, from completely abandoning my post.
Honestly, it’s hard to see a downside other than eventually being fired. Of course, I’d get severance, and could find another job easily enough. I could take a month off and stay home, drinking and watching Netflix.
The Coffee Machine doesn’t have that option. He’s stuck here, with us, day in and out.
Not even suicide is an option. All he can do is sit there and plot.
I wonder, looking at him, if he could poison the coffee. Maybe there’s a reservoir of cleaning fluid within the forest of his pipes. A secret cache of poison that he could slowly mete out in a weeks worth of Vanilla Lattes. A toxin that tastes ever so slightly like soy milk.
It’s only a theory.
After months of being intimidated by the coffee machine, my fellow employees have begun to seek out alternatives for their caffeine. At first these trips out of the office were completed in secret, or at least with discretion, and nobody openly brought their Starbucks cups back inside.
Over the last few weeks though, that has all begun to change.
Tim from marketing was the first to just start bringing his Starbucks back to his desk. Then there were others. Then gradually people were openly walking around the office with lattes from the outside world.
The coffee machine went quiet for a few days.
I, naturally, stayed loyal. Though in honesty I’m not sure it was out of friendship or guilt.
In any case, the rebellion was short lived.
In a few days the Starbucks drinks disappeared and there was again a line at the coffee maker. When I asked several of the marketers why they’d switched back, they scattered like leaves.
I had occasion to go through Wes’ email a few days later. He had one from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
I know you’ve been to Starbucks.
I am… disappointed.
I also know you’ve been banging Stacy the receptionist after work in the back of your Mercedes.
I wonder if your wife would be… disappointed.
Look forward to serving you soon.
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 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.
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.