The coffee machine died today.
Everyone at work was strung out like nothing on earth.
No, I am not kidding. I promise you this. Tempers were short. Fuses would blow over next to nothing. People were complaining of headaches. You could almost see Charlie Green’s eyes roll back in their sockets.
If you ever want to make a workplace dysfunctional – just kill the coffeepot.
The only sane person in the place was Angie who’s pregnant and has been off the stuff for about six months… Oh – and of course there was Gina who is on a herbal tea fad (thank goodness) but she had something under her skin anyway and was no more fun than those suffering from coffeepot withdrawal.
I spent the morning playing it safe and stuck to desk work in the office with as little human contact as possible, then just before lunch snuck out to use the photocopier… only to find Scott having a show down with the machine. He was red in the face and yelling at the thing calling it all manner of names that I’ve never heard him use on anything alive or dead as though this was going to stir the machine into action. He’d obviously been there for some time with something he wanted done with some urgency. But driven mad by lack of caffeine, he’d not examined the problem carefully in the exhaustive, systematic way that Scott usually does.
How did I know that?
Because I could see exactly why the machine wasn’t working. And so could Gina when she stopped beside me looking at Scott’s ranting and raging.
“I believe he’s trying to photocopy something.”
“You reckon?” she asks sarcastically.
Both of us know how awful the morning has been. Both of us are a little unsettled by this foul tempered Scott who seems to have taken up residence where our annoyingly goofy Scott usually resides. Neither of us is convinced we want to see the new Scott flatly embarrassed.
“You go and distract him and I’ll get that while he’s not looking.”
“Why do I have to do the talking? He’ll bite my head off and swallow me whole.”
“No he won’t. Just ask him some dumb question about what next week’s Bible study is supposed to be – I can’t do that and you know it. Go on – now!” and she pushed me out of the shelter of the doorway and into the path of the jolly green giant.
“Uh … Scott?”
“What?” he thunders back at me.
Gina sneaks in on the other side of the photocopy room. I’m committed now.
“Um. What passage are we looking at next week before prayer meeting? I think it’s my turn to prepare.”
Scott looks kind of shocked now. As though I’ve hit him over the head with a club.
Gina is down on her hands and knees beside the photocopier.
“I’m not sure, I’d have to check, but it’s not your turn” he adds calmly, speaking with the old Scott’s voice, “It’s Graham’s turn next week – you’re after Graham.”
“Oh,” I say, as Gina plugs the photocopier in and switches it on at the wall, “Thanks.” she rises and scoots out of the room. “Hey, are you okay, you look kind of strung out?”
He looks a little embarrassed here as though wondering how much I’ve seen. I must have kept a pretty blank face though, because he just answered,
“Yeah, a bit. But I’m okay now. Now if I can just get this photocopier working …” and he pushed the button again, looking stunned when the machine whirred to action and started copying. “Well what do you know?”
“Yep. A photocopier that copies things,” I say, as though oblivious to his last few minutes. And then I leave. Quickly. Before I fall over laughing like Gina is already around the corner as she greets me with the words, “Well what do you know?”
After lunch though, the internet goes down, the internal mail servers crash and the fax goes off to join the coffee machine in the great electrical circuit in the sky.
Once more our department shows that we have the best staff with the most initiative in the place though – Kylie copied the coffee preferences list from the tea room and took Gina and I down to Gloria Jeans with her to get coffees, hot chocolate and iced tea for the team. We were the only group in the building that left feeling good today.
Gina followed me home, saying that she thought that she’d left a book she wanted at my place after her Cello lesson on Monday. I didn’t remember seeing one around anywhere – but then I’ve barely stopped and I’ve been a bit preoccupied the last couple of days. When we got in there were two messages on my phone so I left her to scout for her book while I went to listen to the messages and make some hot chocolate. The first message was from Emily who sounded distressed and asked me to call her back. The second was Hamish – which worried me more. He clearly asked me not to call back but said that he’d call back when he had a chance.
Preoccupied, I went back out to Gina who said that she had found the book. We talked a little over our hot chocolate, but I didn’t notice until later that she hadn’t had much to say.
I called Emily almost as soon as Gina left. She sounded so distressed that I went around to Paul’s to talk to her.
It seems that Hamish has been forbidden to talk to Jonah anymore. This surprised no-one but Emily who couldn’t believe that her uncle could be so hard-hearted. Hamish had also had his Bible taken off him and was told that he was not allowed to be a Christian anymore. This did surprise me. I had not expected Joel to be so direct and heavy-handed. But Emily said that Hamish had told Joel that he could not say that it was not true about Jesus when it was true and that he was not embarrassed to be a Christian no matter what he thought of him. She asked me if I thought that was brave, to which I agreed it was and told her that God helped people to be brave for him.
Emily also told me that Jonah thought that his mother was dying. When I asked her why he thought that, she said that all he had told her was that “this was just like it was last time”. I will have to talk to Megan.
When I got home I found two things. Another message from Hamish on my answering machine. The same as the first one. “Don’t call me back.”
And a gap in the shelf that held Gina’s books.
Her Bible was gone.
nb Hamish also posted today