Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Ongoing Struggle With The Coffee Machine

There's a "Gourmet Coffee" machine in the administration building where I work. The thing acts flakier than HAL 9000 on a mission to Jupiter. Early on, it seduced me with its propensity to distribute cups of frothy French Vanilla goodness for free. I often invented reasons to cruise through the administration in the hopes that free coffee would be awaiting me. It didn't last long, though. Either the vending machine techs figured out what was going on or the coffee machine itself realized that it had me hooked and so the price got jacked up to a buck a cup. And the amount of coffee actually distributed was cut back.

The occasions where I find myself in the administration building are few and far between these days. When I do go there, however, I make a point of stopping at the machine. It's always a zen experience. Some days, I offer my dollar, and it is simply refused. Some days, the dollar is accepted yet the machine acts as if I didn't hand one over. "Dollar? What dollar? You didn't give me a dollar. Look, mister, if you want some coffee, you're going to have to cough up a buck for it". In that case, I'm usually content to see the bogarting of my dollar as a sacrifice to the coffee gods (pagan bastards). Either that, or I'm paying back the negative coffee karma that I accrued from getting all those freebies.

Most of the time, the machine operates within expected parameters. Money is offered, accepted and delicious caffeinated beverage is dispensed. If it's having an off day (maybe somebody kicked it, or the Pepsi machine turned it down for a date the night before) it will flake out on me and just issue a cup without coffee, a coffee without the cup, or even the dreaded hot water only switcheroo. It errors out enough that using it has become a gamble; one I seem all to willing to pursue when the chance arises. Today, I found myself in the administration building to surrender the check I was issued for my recent jury duty to the payroll department. The check included the standard mileage allowance as well, so I was refunded a dollar. One whole dollar. That meant coffee!

I approached the machine with equal measures of trepidation and respect. Would the gourmet coffee machine shine its countenance upon me, or would it swipe my dollar from me yet again? I offered up my dollar and heard the telltale electronic burp of the machine processing the deposit. I nervously pressed my favorite sequence: 1-H-1. The next two seconds seemed like an eternity. SUCCESS! The cup dropped into place and the coffee flowed forth. Sometimes the coffee gods giveth. Sometimes they taketh away. But, today....they brought forth the caffeine.

We'll see what happens next time.

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