Incomplete Truth

As much as i love my new job, i have been incredibly busy since January – and it’s good to earn my pay!  The combination of frenetic pace and new operational environment has led to some speed bumps.

i am fueled by coffee. Not that fancy girlie stuff – coffee beans harvested by one-armed nuns and orphans, roasted over dried goat turds, then slowly brewed in a recycled art glass urinal.

Folgers. From a giant plastic tub. Brewed thick as oil in an ancient drip communal coffee maker that hasn’t been cleaned or sanitized in twenty years.

This is the kind of brew that i grew up on. Chugged into the early morning hours slamming for final exams, finishing a project, or working details.  This is the kind of brew that fueled Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Jack Kilby.  THIS is what powers my engine.

My new lab is inhabited by so many young scientists and engineers that i couldn’t FIND that communal pot. They grew up with refined tastes. Starbucks, for fucksake!  An espresso machine in the “collaboration space”. Really?  French press, if you’d prefer your coffee to be especially effeminate.

Fuck.

This would not do.

Finally found the dirty, nasty pot in the corner of the building on a lower floor. Where the old and crunchy scientists gather.  And it’s only twenty cents a cup!  Sufficiently cheap and suitably crappy coffee. Score!

So things had been going pretty well until i hit this week – caffeinated and productive. Hosting a visitor on Tuesday led me to a new problem: Where to get HIM coffee?

Not the fancy-assed stuff. Not the dirty pot.

The only solution was to take him to our building canteen, The Ptomaine Palace. While i wouldn’t make anyone eat the food there, it works as an emergency snack bar. Coffee would probably be sort of fresh, and they have all that sugar and cream stuff that people use sometimes.

He was agreeable and we went on about our business, trekking from office to office in a carefully orchestrated series of meetings. Same schtick each time, different audience.

After the fourth tour stop, i started to zone out. Noticing the unusual pattern on the styrofoam cup. What does that say????????????????????????????????

“An average weight paper hot cup with a cardboard sleeve generates 379% more solid waste by weight than a comparable foam cup.”

What? Corporate defensive marketing? Highly specific corporate defensive marketing?

Obviously, because statistics are involved, it must be the truth! But aren’t there a few other salient points left out?  To paint the full picture, perhaps there should be a few more details.

“A foam cup will last over a MILLION years in a landfill, while a cardboard cup only lasts 2 months.”

“Polystyrene cups are made from petroleum – which NEVER degrades – so you can use it once and not worry about finding a recycling bin!”

“Cardboard cups can’t hold heat!  Nevermind that reheating your coffee in a polystyrene cup will lead to styrene leaching into your body!  Some studies suggest that despite detrimental health effects, styrene in food can be a flavor enhancer!”

As we rolled into our next meeting, i found myself in the back of the room while my guest performed like the expensive circus pony i paid him to be… In my hand?  A foam cup half full of cold, bad coffee. And an ink pen…

???????????????????????????????What is an incomplete truth?  It is a lie.

30 thoughts on “Incomplete Truth

  1. Yep! It aint what you say, it’s the way that you say it…
    I like the image of one-armed nuns and orphans. Could I design you a label for that? Oh! And then we could see about a partnership with that Liebfraumilch winery, the one with the nun on the label…

  2. They’re making you work for that money? Man, you gotta update your resume. Start looking around. Get out of there!

    Twenty cents a cup is so vintage. There’s something comforting about that. I hope it tastes like twenty cents a cup.

    Mayor Bloomberg — the greatest mayor this old town has ever seen — is now on a kick to ban foam cups. That’s on the heels of banning smoking indoors and 24 ounce soda cups. He’s a man on a mission.

    • i am loving life at the moment! the ‘work’ piece has been missing for over a year, and it’s nice to have that part back! now, i just need to get my damn social life under control so i can get enough sleep!

      “It tastes like twenty cents a cup” – YES! That is exactly what it tastes like! Mud, sludge and dirty fingers. It is wonderful and will awaken you like nothing on the planet!

      The thing about polystyrene – in a landfill? it’ll last forever. Sucks, but that’s not what pisses me off. On a dive trip, Studley fished a sickly seagull out of the water. We nestled him in a towel. He didn’t make it. Boat captain said it was probably from eating the tasty-looking floating bits of foam trash that are ubiquitous in the sea these days.

  3. “Comes from dinosaurs” to help slack the thirst of OTHER dinosaurs, eh?! ;)

    First off, I don’t speak Starbuckian, so that place was NEVER an option for me.
    Secondly, I was raised by my Dad who worked mostly midnights. He learned to make coffee from his Dad who was in the Navy for WWII and Korea. Thick, muddy sludge is what we grew up on.
    Sadly, my digestive tract does NOT agree to coffee of any type and has forced me to switch to tea.
    But I miss it …..
    *sigh*

    • i also am Starbuckian illiterate. when i have to buy coffee at an airport starbucks in an emergency? i just say “give me a large regular damn coffee”. usually gets me an eyeroll and a glare from the kid behind the counter… which is apparently called a ‘barista’ now? who knew?

  4. This sickly seagull, you don’t still have it by any chance? Only, I’m looking for a cavity filler for a 5 bird roast I am planning on preparing for Sunday’s dinner.

    What? It was gonnae die anyway!

    • Of course! When the little pecker died, i threw him in the ice chest, and had him transported home for JUST such an occasion! i can have him packed in dry ice and shipped your way in the blink of an eye! Never want to waste roadkill good meat….

      Speaking of ‘good meat’, what was that you said about ‘cavity filler’?

      • Oh I do like it when you are sassy hen. Too much in fact. You can dress and undress your wee royal totty on your own time sweetcheeks, but me, I like a woman who has that something extra and you have it. It’s high time I inspected your cockpit and take you on a ride that will wave your paddles and splash you with something hot that you cannae get by way of a polystyrene cup!

        Thanks for the gull by the way, you know how much I enjoy a good stuffing.

        • What’s the best way to stuff a sassy hen? Scottish sausage! Baste generously. Turn as needed. And be sure to give that hen a proper pounding.

          Good morning, indeed! Off to have coffee and book my airfare… Let’s have brunch!

  5. I have drunk Starbucks coffee at 4 a.m. in the airport. Otherwise, I find it difficult to justify paying more per gallon for coffee than I do for gasoline.

    Styrofoam? Why? In all your coffee drinking years, why haven’t you accumulated enough coffee mugs that you can present your own personal VERY RECYCLABLE mugs to the barista to put coffee into?

    • This was a ‘drive by caffeination’ – didn’t have time to grab the mug from my office. My preference is a dark ceramic mug. Which has never been washed… as a good little eco-weenie, i would never waste perfectly good water even rinsing it out!

      • Jim never used to wash his coffee cup at work either, and he used one of those quintessential white navy mugs. He claimed that the dark residue inside was a powerful protective force. I think it was a warning that the thing was completely enrobed in the owner’s germs.

        • My ceramic office mug is absolutely disgusting. No one would borrow or steal it, and i am quite certain it strenghtens my immune system!

  6. Our communal pot is in my office and you are welcome anytime. I also have one of those fancy one cup makers – kcups. And for those days when you have a really big meeting – the filing cabinet has some Crown.

  7. “Never” degrades? You aren’t taking the long view. Dump that sucker into a subduction zone along with all the lawyers and it’ll be gone in a few million years.

  8. I’m glad that Seattle outlawed foam packaging for fast food and drink. Most of our stuff is now compostable, so we are not killing any gulls. Also outlawed those thin plastic grocery bags that disintegrate in the ocean and contribute to the garbage in the Pacific gyre. Either you bring your own bag here, or you pay $.05 for a paper bag, or $.15 for a heavier weight plastic bag that has a lot more uses than those thin things. Now if I could break my addiction to dinosaur fiber for knitting…but it’s what I can afford.

    • i’ve seen an ungodly amount of plastic floating in the Carribean. imagine it’s much worse in the pacific. i could do a much better job of minimizing the amount of ‘dinosaur-based products’ that i consume, but it would be tough to go ‘plastic free’. it’s everywhere…. biodegradable is the way to go.

  9. I am colossally sad about the sick seagull. But bless you for trying to help. I refuse to use styrofoam. For all the reasons you mention—it never degrades, it uses all kinds of nasty things that leech into your food/beverage and it DOES make the coffee taste “off,” and also because it ends up hurting animals.

    Also, whatever happened to good old-fashioned Maxwell House coffee brewed in a good old-fashioned percolator? That’s still my coffee of choice. I have a 1950s vintage GE percolator and it makes awesome coffee. I even named my percolator Betty Lou, because it semed like it would be a good 50s diner waitress name. So I have no time for these prissy kids and their Starbucks. Meh.

      • That’s not prissy at all—I think that’s actually very cool that you roast your own organic beans! I’m talking about the kids who go to Starbucks for their venti soy half-caf no-foam whatevers.

        • if i had knowledge and skills? absolutely would love to roast my own beans (not a euphemism, by the way). agree with Mme Weebs – tis the pretentious hipster-like-objects with their lingo and self-righteousness while buying their jamocha almond fudge sugar bombs that give me a headache!

  10. Does no-one drink coffee out of proper mugs any more? At the risk of sounding like a Guardian-reader stereotype, I drink organic Papua New Guinean coffee from a Moka express machine, which I serve (black, no sugar), in a small thick white china expresso cup.

    Right I must dash, I’m off to pick up Ocean and Jocasta from pony club.

    • *gigglesnort* i WISH i’d had the presence of mind to name my spawn Ocean and Jocasta. their lives would have been SO much easier, and i could have left those college applications blank after the part where it asks for “name”…

      i prefer a mug. just not possible to always have one on my person when i’m grabbing coffee on the run…

    • Thank you! What’s interesting is that i’ve started noticing how pervasive the polystyrene foam is in western culture. At least here in the US of A. A bit frightening…

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