And, so we stood, confused and dazed. The coffee machine was missing! This happened early on a Monday morning. The coffee machine was the one thing we all looked forward to on a Monday morning – it made the stay in the office tolerable. It was a miracle of modern technology – it dispensed black coffee; decaf coffee; coffee mochas; cappuccino; hot chocolate; lattes; and hot water. Some of us even were rumored to worship the coffee machine. The area around it was a social hangout. We told stories about our weekends in front of the coffee machine; we discussed the reports in front of the coffee machine; we shared photos of our kids around that freaking coffee machine – the machine was part of our family. There was always a line – most of us standing with empty mugs in hand. We needed it to get the extra wake-up juice that the day required. There we stood, in disbelief. Jack Eden had already called building security to report it stolen. When the security guard finally arrived to take our statements, the management staff strolled up and tried to get us to disperse.
A few weeks before we all learned we were moving cubicles, again. Management brought it upon itself to suspend the funding to the coffee machine. Budget reports showed that it was a huge red line in the bottom line and somewhere the management staff had to decided that the only way to fix it was to have it removed. No concern was taken on how this would effect the employees or our morale. The situation started to get ugly. Tempers started to flare. Tensions were rumbling on every floor of the building. We took it upon ourselves to send emails to anyone who would listen. The story goes, that even the CEO was aware of the musings of mutiny. He quickly placed a note on his blog, on the company’s homepage on our intranet – to dispel rumors and sweet talk the employees with his boyish charisma. The seasoned workers like Rick and Jack saw through the lies and deception. Rick and Jack spent the rest of the day calling the coffee machine vender and other coffee wholesalers. Their daily reports and emails went ignored. The two men worked up spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations and pie charts on the expenses on a company providing the simple life blood of coffee to its employees. Jack had even called the exact technician that removed the machine. With a day’s work and math, they came to the conclusion it only cost the company about $10 a day to give 1000s of cups of bold, hot, stimulating coffee to its legion of cubicle prisoners.
After days of buying coffee from the Starbucks from down the street, the group decided to pitch in for a coffee machine and coffee. It took several days before building management discovered our bootleg coffee pot. We were instructed to remove it. We asked, “why, we’re paying for it out of our own pockets?” The building management’s excuse was “it’s a fire hazard and the building couldn’t accept the liability.” That excuse had us scratching our heads – once again – for hours. How could our machine be a fire hazard yet the one that sat there just days before – for years and years – was not? Did they know the liability of disgruntled employees?
Production had already slipped by 37%. The writing was on the wall. Yes, several uncontrollable naps would happen. Concentration would be lost to staring at cubicle walls for hours at a time. But most importantly, the tine it took for 87% of the staff to walk 1.5 blocks to the Starbucks, waiting precisely 8.6 minutes to order their drink, waiting another 12.7 minutes to get drink, and then walk slowly back the 1.5 blocks back to the building. Before the coffee machine was 20.7 feet away. Now it caused this reckless behavior and loss of production. It made no sense whatsoever!
If we were to keep our freshly installed coffee machine, we were gonna have to take it to the mattresses – and bribe a few fire inspectors!