The Best of Comrus: The Coffee Machine Incident

This post originally appeared on January 24, 2007 at

It’s amazing how much I can make a fool of myself.  I’m an intelligent human being, but for some reason I continuously find myself in an awkward situation, usually of my own doing.  Yesterday, I tried out coffee for the first time in many, many years.  In fact, I hadn’t had coffee for eight years now.  The last time I had coffee I was a Freshman in college cramming for an exam (hehe, cramming for a college exam.  How inappropriate my stress, especially given my eventual law school experience), and I ended up “overdosing.”  Okay, I exaggerate, I didn’t exactly overdose.  What happened is that I had too much vending machine coffee so that I ended up shaking and too hyper.  The end result was failure to study, and excessive shakiness.

And thus ended my coffee drinking days.  To be honest, I never really liked the stuff to begin with.  Sure, I put in one part sugar to half-parts coffee, but I still had to throw it down my gullet in order to drink it.  It’s just something I’ve never been able to handle.  But it did promise caffeine, and that was enough to give it a shot.

And the promise of caffeine is exactly why I tried it again yesterday.  You see, I’ve had many a can of Diet Mountain Dew while working of late.  It really has done nothing to improve my situation, especially when I was working the demeaning temp job starting at 6:30 AM.  But now that I work more reasonable hours, I though it would do something for me, but unfortunately the grogginess persists.

It’s not like this is anything new, my opinion of caffeine is that it works to keep me awake when I’m trying to sleep, but completely fails in making me feel more alert.  And yet, I continue to try.

At about 9:00 yesterday I broke down.  My eyes were as droopy as Droopy’s eyes (oh, that’s why he had that name!).  Luckily, I wasn’t as groggy as I was last week, when I would have taken a few hours struggling with the concept of multiplication (two apples times two apples equals four apples?!  What the hell is two apples times two apples?!  And then I would realize it’s actually two apples times two, and everything would still be equally as unclear), but I wasn’t quite fully awake. 

I headed to the break room to find the coffee dispensers completely empty.  Darn it.  So I waited a bit to see what people do when that happens, since I had no idea what I was doing.  A person finally came in, but alas, she headed off to the pop machine.  I was not out of luck, however, as she had coins, and the pop machine had been rejecting them of late.  Sure enough, her coins were rejected, and she headed to the coffee machine.  She pulled a mug out of the cabinet (ah, so that’s where they were), and pushed some button on the coffee maker and filled her cup.  So that’s how it’s done, you push a button and it’s dispensed from the coffee maker.  This was no ordinary home coffee maker, this was a commercial coffee maker.  However, I couldn’t figure out how the coffee dispensers/makers to the right of this coffee maker were different from this coffee maker.

But they were empty, and I had a coffee maker/dispenser that apparently brewed fresh, so I decided to have a go at it.  I grabbed a mug from the large cache of mugs (which just rubbed in the fact that I didn’t have a real legal job, since every single one had the name of the firm prominently printed on them), and I was set to make coffee.  Well, I was set to make coffee if I could figure out just what button the woman had pushed.  There was a spout-like thing to the side, but it was clear that this was only for hot water.  There was a brew button, but since there was no carafe in sight, I pondered as to whether or not hitting the button was for just one cup.  Since the previous person had just filled up a cup, and because the brew button was actually a switch which can be turned on an off, I decided that all I would have to do is turn it on, and when the cup was full, turn in back off.

Luckily for me, there was a sea of coffee mugs in the cabinet.

I pushed the brew button, and instead of switching on, the switch/button returned to its original position.  In fact, despite the fact that it looked like a switch, it wasn’t.  The coffee started coming out, so I raised my mug, quite concerned as to whether it would stop after only one.  Naturally, it didn’t.

In true “I Love Lucy” form, the coffee just kept coming.  I sprinted to the cabinet (which was only a couple steps away, but given the situation, I think “sprint” is a good description of what I did), grabbed another mug, and put it under the machine after the first mug was full.  I scrambled to figure out how to stop this.  There was no carafe, and the machine just wouldn’t stop.  In fact, coffee came out faster and faster.  I decided to pull the plug, but sadly, this didn’t do anything.  The coffee just kept coming, and I kept grabbing mugs.

For a second, I pondered just leaving, but I couldn’t just leave such a mess in the break room.  Someone would eventually notice, and even if I wasn’t found out, I would feel extremely guilty for creating such a mess.  I just really didn’t want anyone to see the absurd situation I had created for myself.  And then someone entered.

Luckily for me, he continued straight through to the other door.  Phew, he never even looked over at me putting mug after mug under the machine.  But then there I was, a person with seven years of education beyond high school, a licensed attorney, struggling with a constantly pouring coffee machine with no carafe to save me.

And then, behind the microwave, I saw it.  A carafe!  I was saved.  I grabbed it… and it was mostly full.  No use!  I didn’t have the time to empty it, I still had to put mug after mug under the coffee maker.  I looked down at my collection of 15 filled mugs and took solace in the fact that if a person came in they might have thought that I was bringing back coffee to a lot of people; filling the mugs directly being the most efficient way.

I then saw a carafe at the other end of the room.  I took a chance, put an empty mug under the machine, and ran over to the carafe.  Luckily, it was empty.  I ran back over, and put it under.  Ah, saved.  But, um, this coffee maker appears like it might have a direct water line.  If that’s true, then it just might not stop when the carafe filled.  Yet again I searched for some sort of off button, but there was none.  I decided that it just had to stop when it filled the carafe, more out of desire to get out of this situation than actual conviction.  I quickly exited the break room and sat at my computer drinking the awful coffee that I brought with me (only one mug, of course, I dumped the rest down the sink), as I neglected to even add sugar in my quest to flee the room.

The thought of the coffee maker never left my mind.  Not only was I not sure that the machine would stop, but my unplugging it might have actually made it mechanically unable to stop.  Okay, just code documents, you’ll be all right… maybe.  Fine, go check, it’s not like they’ll necessarily blame you.  You can act like you just came into this mess, having nothing to do with the actual beginnings of it, acting all angered about the “person” who did do this.

When I entered the break room a person was attending to the coffee machine with a very confused look on her face.  She looked at me and said that someone had apparently brewed some coffee into this random carafe, and she didn’t know if it was regular or decaf, but if I wanted some, go ahead, although she was going to brew some more.  She then took one of the dispensers that were to the right of the maker, and placed it under the maker. 

Oooooooooooooohhhhh.  The dispensers weren’t coffee makers themselves, but actually carafes.  Well, that makes sense.

For the rest of the day, despite everything I ate, I couldn’t shake the coffee aftertaste.  Yet another reason for me not to drink coffee.

But hey, I found teabags today!  And the coffee machine has a hot water nozzle on it, so that I can… wait a minute… oh, yeah, that makes sense… the woman who poured “coffee” out of the machine poured out hot water for tea. 

Silly me.



One response to “The Best of Comrus: The Coffee Machine Incident

  1. northwoodsirishpub

    Best Comrus Post Ever!!!!!!!

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