Where’s the Coffee Machine?!

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!

And So We Stood

And, so we stood, watching Mary Sela cut into a glazed doughnut.  The doughnut was still in the box from the little doughnut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole.  Using a plastic knife in a rigorous sawing motion, she promptly removed an expertly cut half a doughnut.  She placed it on a paper towel and walked back to her cubicle.  We stood there wondering if anyone else would courage up to taking the other half of the doughnut.  

Jack Eden decided he didn’t want to ponder the idea. He yelled, “Mary!” As she turned around with a “yeah”, he questioned her with a “what the hell was that?”  Her eyebrows scrunched down into an inquisitive “what?”  He approached her and asked her why she only took half a doughnut.  She quietly responded that she didn’t want a whole doughnut.  “So, you figure someone wants your discarded half of a doughnut?” he grilled.  She stumbled on her words, looked over his shoulder at the rest of us, and in a passive voice “I didn’t want to waste it.”  Jack didn’t care what her best intentions were, nor did any of us think we would happily dine on half-a-doughnut still in the box from the little doughnut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole.  

First off, we didn’t get free doughnuts very often, especially those bought and paid for by our management staff.  Secondly, we weren’t exactly concerned about our pride when it came to gorging ourselves on free food.  So to witness such an odd event, we found ourselves scratching our heads.  Even after Jack interrogated Mary.  And wouldn’t you know, that half-a-doughnut sat in the box even after all the others were gone.  Pillaging free food still had its requirements and it didn’t involve scraps. We weren’t heathens.  We weren’t vagabonds. We weren’t animals.  We were highly educated morons that sat in tiny cubicles all day, shifting through emails, answering phone calls from whiny brokers, and ‘servicing’ our clients – although no one liked that term – it just sounded perverse.            

The half-a-doughnut was still in the box when everyone had gone home for the day and the lights were turned out.  It sat in the box, from the doughnut shop around the corner – The Donut Hole, on the green table, in the green kitchen, through the night.  The green table, in the green kitchen was also known as the table where discarded food went to disappear – if someone had leftovers or excess amounts of Halloween candy, it was placed on the green table. Within a few days (sometimes only hours), it would be gone.  It defied explanation.  The phenomenon wasted hours of useful production time as we discussed the theories and probabilities of how the food disappeared. Maybe the Dining Hall manager suspected contraband and had it disposed of? Or, maybe the Health Relations Monitor saw a potential food poisoning event and quickly bagged and tagged it for analysis. Maybe, the table actually had a trap door where the food would fall through a maze of tunnels and passage ways and fall right into the incinerator? In the end, we suspected it was simply eaten.  We hoped the cleaning crew just took care of it each night.  Yet, this was disproven by the half-a-doughnut incident.  The following day, the half-a-doughnut still sat in the box on the green table, in the green kitchen as it was left the day before.  Most of us stared at it as we got our morning coffee and threw our lunches into the refrigerator.

Then, Joey Brena, getting her third cup of coffee that morning, noticed something! The box, from the donut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole, was open and more importantly, empty. The half-a-donut was gone! Joey raced over to Rick Whitmore’s cubicle to inform him that the half-a-doughnut was now missing.  The box from the doughnut shop from around the corner was still on the table, including crumbs and smears of chocolate icing.  But more importantly, the half-a-doughnut was gone!  Rick Whitmore proceeded to walk to Jack Eden’s cube and inform him of the news.  Before we could even check our voice mails or log in to our emails, we gathered in the green kitchen, near the green table.  We stared at the table, at the box.  

“You think Mary came back to get the other half?” Sandy Johnson hypothesized.

“That’s just ridiculous!” Jack rebutted.

The thing is, someone had to take the half-a-doughnut.  Someone decided it looked appetizing.  It obviously wasn’t thrown away, or why was the box still on the green table, in the green kitchen?  

Jack whispered to Joey Brena he would check on Mary and see if the half-a-doughnut was on her desk or if her sweater revealed the crumbs of evidence.  Mary Sela, a nice fifty-something lady, typically kept her self clean and smelled like cheap Walgreen’s perfume.  But sometimes she had the unfortunate character of clumsiness. Like the time a meatball escape her fork and rolled down a heavenly white blouse – leaving a Morse code of bright red spaghetti sauce in its wake. 

Joe Eden, gone only a couple minutes, returned to inform us that, “She’s not there. Her computer isn’t even booted up.”  We all just looked at each other.  We continued to debate the disappearance of the half-a-doughnut.  What happened to the half-a-doughnut?  Worse yet, did someone eat it?

Today’s Word: Patience.

Hello, boys and girls. Today’s word is patience.

This is something some writers don’t have. Okay. Well, maybe not some. Let’s just say me. I try hard to have it but ….

My head is filled with stories. It’s full of scenes, dialog and … things. I sit and as I write, it flows so much slower. I can spend a full solid morning and only have a few pages to show but in my mind, I’ve seen the beginning, the middle and the end.

So, with the patience comes focus. With that head so full of stories and ideas, its hard to stay focused on just one. I easily get something else caught in my imagination and start to document that. And typically, as I’m working on that, a new idea bursts forth.

I’ve learned that patience comes with discipline. To ease the chaos of my mind, I try to satisfy it by working on more than one project at a time. I’ve been asked if that isn’t confusing or difficult. To be honest, not really. But it does do, is: it slows down the process and extends the completion of the story.

So, I’m trying to focus on only 2 or 3 projects. I can rotate as needed but I feel it will help me and my blocks. But its not rigid. If I find that I spend all my time on 1 project, then so be it. And congrats to me. The only benefit to a slow process is that I get to think more about the story. I find places to make changes and fix problems. In the end, maybe thats the reward….

Oh, and with that: I use a notebook to catalog all those new ideas. Let’s just hope I can get to them one day!