Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Fought the Keurig and the Keurig Won

Even paranoids have enemies.
Sometimes it is personal.

A few years back, things seemed really dark.  Ok, things were really dark.  Weird stuff used to happen to me.  After a while it not only seemed personal, it was.  Whenever I went to a restaurant, I wouldn't get the right food or wouldn't get served.  My brother, the professional wiseass, asked me to stand with another group at the restaurant so he'd get seated.  It rained every time I took off work to go to the zoo (my coworkers bought me tickets and a raincoat for my birthday).  All I had to do was get in any line to bring it to a screeching halt.

My cars, always land yachts, were invisible.  No one saw me.  People would cut in front of me as if I didn't exist.  Night or day.  My wife had it even worse... people would cut across lanes just to hit her.  We were asshole magnets behind the wheel (and in person, but that's a different story for a different blog).

This was documented by outside parties.  A nephew once sat there amazed and said we weren't making it up - he was seeing it for himself.  He thought we were kidding.

Anyway, things improved.  I don't know whether it was voodoo, chanting, Santeria, or the horde of gypsy mutant psychics I kept on the payroll, but I was most grateful for the turnaround.

Every now and then, little things start to pop up that make me wonder if I'm headed back to the Dark Place.  My wife just shakes her head and says I live in the Dark Place regardless.

I don't want to think things are headed back and for the most part, they aren't.  It's just this damn coffee machine.

Work has a long and storied history of coffee and coffee machines.  I work with a bunch of hardcore coffee snobs and regular coffee junkies, as well as one or two heretics who don't like coffee.  We started off with company-provided coffee, which is swill (not that we didn't appreciate the effort).  Then someone brought in a Mr. Coffee.  Never satisfied, I brought in a grinder, as one cannot appreciate coffee from a can or any other form that isn't a bean.  The downside became apparent immediately: in spite of being neat freaks to the point of needing treatment, my coworkers wouldn't clean the coffee pot.

Since I came in early, I made most of the coffee.  This was obviously a problem with a dirty pot.  It was an even bigger problem when the pot was dark and hairy (like me).  I have `organizational issues' (read: slob) but it was important not to brew coffee with dirty implements.  After I got tired of cleaning the pot, I went back to company-provided coffee.

Time passed and Coffee Fever intensified.  Stupidly, I brought in more beans.  We went to locate the coffee make and couldn't.  Yes, one of our clinically insane neat freaks cleaned up and the coffee maker had disappeared into eternity (along with the coworker, thankfully).  This is why I maintain that optimism gets you nowhere.

Finally someone got a deal on a Keurig machine.  These are the self-contained magical boxes into which you put a little plastic cup and fill the reservoir with water, providing you with the magic elixir at work.  And the best part of this is that you don't have to clean the infernal machine.  Of course you do have to fill it up with water, a task that almost completely escapes my coworkers, in spite of the extremely bright blue flashing light that says ADD WATER, IMBECILE.  And running the odd cycle of vinegar to clean the machine out.

The Keurig sufficed for about a week until I wanted to give up again.  The range of coffees available for it produced watery brown liquid, suitable only for very sweet old ladies and certain female coworkers who enjoy the flavoring more than the coffee.  It took a few weeks to discover coffee with names like JET FUEL and TUMMY ROT, which were right up my alley.

It was nearly Coffee Nirvana except that we still weren't using real beans.  I purchased an expensive adapter designed exactly for this purpose, which failed miserably.  We had one of our more scientific and plumbing-minded coworkers attack the adapter and the problem for the better part of an hour, to no avail.  In fact, the net effect was a sound that made us think the machine had a prostate problem.  And water all over the place.

A few months later we located a cheaper adapter which almost worked.  Gone were the prostate noises and water spurting but it still wasn't strong enough.  The biggest surprise [wait for it!] was that no one would clean the adapter after they used it.  In fact, the little green thingie still sits in back of the Keurig, dirty from the last time someone used it.  I gave up.

So anyway, I set out to describe the current Keurig war.   Once we discovered coffee of the proper strength, it was pretty much smooth sailing.  When I say pretty much, I mean the problems started shortly thereafter.  And naturally they were my problems.

When I'd complain that something didn't work for me in a browser, a coworker would always say "It works for me."  It became a departmental mantra and extended itself to the Keurig.  The problems, like all problems, started early on a Monday morning.  I would arrive and innocently attempt to make a cup of coffee.  This was my first mistake.

Most of the time, the machine would just sit there and stare at me.  I could even hear it laughing at me, very quietly and internal-like.  It wouldn't do a thing - not even blink a light.

So I started powering it up and `letting it warm up'.  Sometimes it would stare at me.  Other times it would indicate that it had made coffee but not actually produce any.

On Monday mornings, I took to running a cup of water through, just for fun.  This worked, provided I didn't try to put a coffee pod in the machine.

After a while, it became Sport.  Several coworkers in the area would stop what they were doing to see what the machine would do to me on that particular morning.  They never hesitated to mention that it worked for them.

Just yesterday the machine tried to give me nothing again, claiming it already had.  It was the coffee equivalent of Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch.  So I tried outsmarting it by hitting the button again.  Unfortunately the machine was too smart for me and refused to acknowledge the button press.

Thinking quickly, I pulled up the handle, to make the machine think I had put in a different coffee pod, and hit the button yet again.  The machine's response was to give me a cup of coffee, plus the cup it didn't give me the first time.  My cup literally ranneth over.

Of course that meant war.

I procured another coffee pod but waited enough time to make the Keurig think I was someone else.  Quickly inserting the pod, I hit the button.   To my great surprise (not to mention the applause of everyone assembled), I had achieved coffee!  After only three or four tries!

Flushed with success, I took the rest of the day off.

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