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.
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…