#328: THE VAN HOUTTE HABIT

This has been one hectic week. At least it has been what I consider hectic. Okay, now that I have myself thinking about it, hectic is a little too strong, because although I have been über busy at work, my evenings have not exactly been overrun with commitments.

Alright, to tell the truth, the only evening plan we thought about making this week was to go to an Avril Lavigne concert with some free tickets that the Fiery One got at work, but I chose to forego a couple of thousand screaming girls and instead firmly planted my beautiful ass on our new-to-us sofa and watched television. So really, not so hectic after all.

It's been work that has been a little on the ridiculous side of busy. I am what is considered support staff, and normally there are four of us in my department, but three are away vacationing, so I have been left alone to vainly bail water from the bottom of this normally well-staffed boat. If I were the captain, I would stay to make sure that all things went well before the long weekend, but seeing as I am not, I plan to jump ship as soon as quitting time rolls around.

Veering away from the nautical nature this post started to take..... I've been up with the hoity-toities and the well-to-dos in this organization I work for, covering for an assistant who is also on holidays. This means that I have been getting work assignments from everyone everywhere instead of from the usual some people sometimes, and the pace runs at a tidy clip. On top of my usual job of writing letters and posting cheques, I have also been researching government initiatives, organizing schedules, fiddling with RSVP lists, answering the telephone, distributing VIP tickets, downloading hard drives, and pretending that I actually know the names of the people who work on this floor. They all seem really nice, and for the first time I appreciate organizations that make name tags mandatory.

On my first day up here, I was shown the coffee room, and instead of the regular coffee maker, they have this large machine called the Van Houtte. The Van Houtte keeps all the ingredients locked away within her hard, black shell, leaving the workings behind the resulting squirts of dark liquid an utter mystery. The Van Houtte huffs, sighs, burbles, burps, and then secretes several variations of two brown substances normally known as coffee and hot chocolate.

In an effort to keep up with the pace of covering for four absent co-workers, I have taken to dosing myself with not only coffee but also hot chocolate and extra sugar. The Van Houtte demands that I press "coffee" and "medium", and when the medium coffee portion is done dribbling into my mug, I must press "cafe mocha" and "small" for the last third of my beverage. The coffee's tastelessness is surprising, and the hot chocolate's syrupy texture is stunning, but my calculated mixture creates an at least somewhat palatable caffeine vehicle. I honestly assumed that the hoity-toities and well-to-dos would have something like their own barrista up here and not this belchy Van Houtte.

What the hot beverage that the Van Houtte puts forth lacks in texture and flavour it more than makes up for with its freakish caffeine levels. I Am Hopping. I feel zippy and light. I feel effective. My fingers dance a jitterbug across the keyboard. Saviabella called me here a couple of days ago, and she said I sounded totally perky, which is highly unusual for one such as I who used to get called Eeyore in elementary school.

There are consequences, though, to the generosity of the Van Houtte, and I have the headaches, knotted shoulders, and evening energy crashes to prove it. Yesterday I had to indulge in some beer to counteract the mounting physical effects of my two-week-long caffeine-ingestion spree, and this morning I had to counteract the effects of the beer with more false Van Houtte energy juice. Thank gawd this desk assignment only lasts a few more hours or I would find myself trapped in a chemical loop, swinging from high to low on a sliding Van Houtte-Beer scale.

The long weekend starts at 4:30 pm, and I plan to leap from this desk and enjoy it. Starcat is coming down from Cosmopolis to visit us during the folk fest, and yes, I said folk fest, meaning that there is a folk fest in a park two blocks away from our rocking new apartment, so the three of us will have a fine, fine weekend indeed.

And then, on Monday morning, I will begin my grief process as I learn to live without the nasty Van Houtte who gave forth such caffeinated goodness. The handing over of my temporary set of executive keys will be a bittersweet occasion. Perhaps I will hire a musician to play Taps.

The Van Houtte giveth, and the Van Houtte taketh away.



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"Ape and Coffee" by Russell Edson

Elan Morgan2 Comments