Thursday, September 30, 2004

Normal Life Observations

The office I’ve been working in for the past few weeks has a coffee… let's call it a "situation." Normally, anytime the coffee is free in an office instead of purchased by the cup from a cafeteria or (gasp) vending machine, I count it as a blessing and don’t mention any problems so as not to jinx it. But this is some serious weirdness.

First of all, there are three pots in the little Bunn-o-matic unit: Decaf, Breakfast Blend, and Mocha Java. Breakfast Blend and Mocha Java look and taste exactly the same, but both the pots and the coffee grounds are clearly labeled to avoid mixing them up. Other than me, I've never seen anyone mix the two in the same cup when a pot is finished off before the cup is full.

The coffee setup in general is really nice. You can dump the old grounds, grab a filter, scoop out the proper amount of coffee from the properly labeled Tupperware container, and start the next pot in about 30 seconds. No serious work disruption required.

Which is why I find it odd that no one here seems to ever make coffee. I’ve had three cups of coffee this morning, and for each one I had to make a new pot. Every one of the pots was down to that not-quite-enough-to-fill-a-cup level. And no one had started a new one of any kind.

Today is only the most extreme example. I find this situation quite regularly. And it’s not like no one here drinks coffee. Those new pots I make are drained in minutes.

Look, I’m a temp here. I’m consulting on a project that will maybe keep me here another month. What are these people going to do when I leave? I have visions of them shaking from caffeine withdrawal and sucking dry coffee grounds. God knows they won’t make a new pot. Perhaps that’s the whole reason they do projects around here – to bring in outsiders to make the coffee.

More weirdness awaited me outside the office today. I was driving to pick up lunch down Silverlake Avenue., in New Brighton. I noticed a sign saying "traffic lights timed for 35 m.p.h." Helpful, though a little strange since the speed limit was 40. But I'd rather go 35 non-stop, than 40 and have to stop at a light, so I slowed to 35. And promptly hit a red light. And again. And again.

By this point I had figured out that the lights were definitely not timed for 35 m.p.h. (or any other m.p.h. as far as I could tell). So why the sign? Going back the other direction there was another one saying the same thing. And it was equally incorrect heading the opposite way.

Perhaps its some cheap alternative to speed traps, intended to entice traffic to slow down. A single lie printed on a couple of signs certainly sounds less expensive than paying a salaried cop with expensive equipment to sit there aiming his radar-gun menacingly at traffic. But I still hate being lied to.

I'll be staying home to watch the debate tonight. My wife had a babysitter lined up at one point, but that was before she realized it was debate night. She's not into politics as much as me, but had been looking for some night she could come down to Keegan's and see what all that bloggy-fun on trivia night was about. If only we were all poetry or dog-breeding enthusiasts instead of political bloggers, it would have worked out. Oh well. She'll be joining me down there some other time.

My pre-debate prediction: No fireworks or meaningful stumbles from Bush. Kerry tries a couple of unconventional things to shake things up, but they'll be so transparent they'll mildly backfire. Overall Kerry will not change anyone's impression of himself or the president. Pundits will consider the debate a draw , while each side claims victory. No significant change in the polls in either direction.

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