The Coffee Technician

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I posted that thought as it occurred to me, whilst standing in line at local cafe. I was feeling put out because I was stuck behind a slew of meticulously dressed down tattooed scenesters. I was feeling my beard get longer as they cheerfully order their chai lattes, soy milk mochachinnos, and navigating the sandwich menu trying to remove all the joy from the items that weren’t already vegan. The slacker on duty took each order individually and then listlessly went about the motions of making each drink. All the time I stood impatiently annoyed at the needless complexity involved; angrily certain that the whole process could be sped up if the barista would just put some effort into it.

Finally the herd thinned and I was able to approach their comrade behind the counter and order my simple cup of simple, hot, black coffee. It literally took less than a minute for the counter person to dispense it from the air pot and serve it up with a smirk of boredom, and ring me up with a snotty look. I dropped my change in her tip jar and began to walk away.

That’s when it struck me.

It might be me that’s got it all wrong.

This poor beleaguered barista had been selected from all the other job candidates She has spent months if not years practicing making coffee drinks1. Had to be trained to properly tamp down the espresso. It had to take hours to learn to pour just the right amount of foam on a cappuccino. Constantly wrestling with that damned finicky machine to get just the right concentration of water that makes a ristretto well, a ristretto, not just simply an espresso shot. They ceaselessly have to argue with nitpicky hipsters over the difference between a lungo and an americano. I mean, I sure as hell don’t know the difference between a mocha and a mocha breve2. Do you? Not to mention the all the other day-to-day horseshit involved with customer service jobs. I mean this person has dedicated a considerable amount of their time, energy and brainpower to become competent at their job. And here I come, this unenlightened jerk. this smug dipshit who has the temerity to be so basic as to order a fucking cup of house blend, without so much as adding a god damned shot of espresso to make it a red-eye. I’m essentially wasting her fucking time over here.

Feeling like a bit of an ass for being so impatient, I turned back to the counter to throw a little extra in the tip jar by way of silent apology.

And that damned half-wit was too busy staring gaped mouthed at a ceiling fan, fidgeting with her nose ring to notice.


  1.  To be clear once you add anything to it you’re having a coffee drink and not coffee, and that’s fine but let’s just fess up to that and move on. 
  2. Actually I do but, for the purposes of this rant, let’s just pretend. 
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The Tiny Things

It’s the tiny things in life.

Like, one morning I woke up and shambled to the kitchen.

I grabbed a mug.

Then, as I reached for the coffee pot, I  looked down.

There, lying at the bottom of my cup, was a dead cockroach

I stood there staring at it, in sickened disbelief for half a moment.

I rinsed out the cup and poured the coffee.

I wondered about mornings there may have been a roach in my cup.

Ones I didn’t happen find.

We should be grateful in life for tiny things. drinking-30268_640

Things that go unnoticed

Don’t you agree.

Prompt

A Love Letter

Dearest Love,

 I look forward to seeing you every night, and I ache the whole day while we are apart. I know sometimes my absences are too long, our times together too brief; know that it is not you that I am neglecting but, my own needs. That time we are apart is an eternity. You are always there for me, no matter the aggravations or trials of my day. You support me in my times of need, wrap yourself around me, and give me a place to lay my weary head. Where it possible I would dress you in the finest of silks and take everywhere about town with me.Though there may have been others, it is in your embrace I want to spend the rest of my life.

My dearest bed, it is you I love. The creak of your mattress springs are alike a welcoming sigh of contentment. The worn, faded blankets that cover you, surround me in the warmest embraces. I love you madly and I love you deeply with a passion that only the truly sleep deprived will ever know.

Yours with greatest longing,

Doug

Portal Dread

He stared at the open door with sickening dread. Had he been robbed? Had the landlord shown up?  He nervously approached the yawning frame. No, he had been careless, left it open. Peering inside there was only darkness. He had let it out.  A wren lay, pristine and bloodless, one wing spread open across the threshold. A sign, he knew what it meant.  The bird was just the first. Now it was loose in the world.  It was his fault. He went next door and knocked gingerly.

“Hey Tom.”

“Hi Sarah, have you seen my cat? She’s gotten loose again.”

On That Hallowed Night

Based on a true story…

Sheltered from street view and behind the gate leads a path. To the old water oak, that tonight displays the sign of the hanged man; upside down, arms spread, insisting a choice be made. The paving stones to the house or up the hill back to the world.

Downward on the  path to the threshold a spiked necked mongrel stands guard. A token gift promises safe passage, one way at least. Mirrors in the vestibule shine back candlelight and shows faces adorned, and not quite real.

In the main hall, guests all sit, passive, their frozen faces painted in gruesome display, staring at the black robed man paces in the prison he has painted on the floor. Spiraling in towards the tome laid open on the floor. The last few are seated around. The lights are dimmed, leaving only candle flame and an odd glow from runes on the floor.

A harlequin in domino, visage of smiling death, bells tinkling, nods and the droning pipes begin. A low, steady rhythm that can be felt in the bones. From a dark corner the jinn motions his hands and draws unearthly percussive notes from the air, as if some invisible organ plays them. A rabbit faced woman begins to pluck the strings of her long necked and alien instrument. The flock inhales as one gaping mouth. The black clad magus begins to read aloud from his book of blasphemies.

His voice his raspy and unsteady, near stumbles through the words. Fearful of a misspoke syllable that might displease his host. Gaining speed and courage as the work flows through him, out of him and into the ears of this singular night. He finds the pace amidst the subtle changes of the pipers drone. His voice touches the notes of the composer and melody driven by the strings. Together they weave the call. From an open door the damp smell of new fog drifts in from the world outside. In his strange words he sings of the worlds both old and new. Intones things beyond his vision. He dances in his circle and calls them, asks them, begs them, to draw nearer. To hear him, to see him, to wrap their arms about him. To love him, as he has always loved them. He makes flowing gestures with his arms and implores them to be here on this sacred night. He makes them the ancient promise in unknown words, and it is done.

The pipes, the music, his voice all stop without warning or cue.

The flock exhales. They look at each other oddly. Unsure of what they witnessed, or of what to next. A few moments of awkward glances, the rise and mill about. When they are certain there is no more to be done they slowly, in small groups walk out to the yard to make what can be from the rest of this special night.

The magus turns towards his fellows and smiles. Outside there is a sharp, inhuman  roar, followed by all too human cries of fear. He shrugs as he looks out the window to the scene on the lawn. The guitarist joins him raising her mask. Wondering how she was going to get all this crap unstuck from her instrument.

It had been a good turn out for the night. The show went well, except maybe some of the party guests had eaten a few to many of those brownies. The mystic symbols in the glow in the dark paint, under the black light had been a nice touch. Too bad that asshole in the Leatherface mask was chasing people around with his chainsaw now.

“Who the fuck invited that guy?”

“That’s Josh.” The skull faced jester said setting his didgeridoo aside.

The vocalist adjusted the robe, “What a douche.”

“We already knew that. Fuck it dude, it’s Halloween, let him have his fun.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Bacon Is Bad For You and, Vegetarian Hot Dogs Are Made Of People!

It’s hard to believe it’s only Wednesday and I think the internet may have already spewed forth my favorite headlines for the week. On Monday while I was busy trying to fit a cup of coffee into my schedule, everywhere I looked, my news feeds were flooded with links and headlines that said things like:

Hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats cause cancer, World Health Organization declares 

or,

Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer, WHO Says

At the time, all I could visualize was my vegan and vegetarian friends, with their arms folded across their chests and a triumphant little smirk on their smug little hippie faces. So delighted to be able to push the share button on that one. I mean here it was right, it’s science right? Who’s laughing now? I bet you don’t have anything smart to say about this one.

Relax it’s the internet, just wait a few minutes.

In those minutes we got:

Human DNA found in two thirds of vegetarian hot dog samples, according to report

and

Study Finds Pork And Human DNA In Vegetarian Hot Dogs

Leave it to a FOX News affiliate to cherry pick just the right info out of an otherwise pointless study to slant things enough to get it reposted into my social networks. I was a bit miffed to see the second headline from IFLScience, but I suppose it pays the bills. Usually by the same people who busy themselves with defending the confederate flag and spent a large part of 2012 worrying about the Twinkie Crisis. To be frank none of them seemed to notice that this report in question was about all types of hot dogs not just vegetarian ones. In fairness I’d like to note how skewed that first headline is by quoting the Clear Food, who conducted the study, so you can compare the two:

  • Hygienic issues: Clear Food found human DNA in 2% of the samples. 2/3rds of the samples with human DNA were vegetarian products.

The reason I got such a kick out of these is, none of it is new information. We have been studying and talking for years about how processed meats are bad for us. Even the staunchest of bacon lover knew that with each delicious smokey, salt laden strip we were hurtling that much faster towards the possibility of a protracted, ugly, and, agonizing death. If you’ve been in denial about that, you’re probably an idiot to begin with so this new declaration of fact may have come as some sort of surprise. To those of us who bother to pay even the slightest attention to the information available about what we choose to stuff in our consumption orifices, we’ll probably just shrug and just keep doing what we’ve always done. We’re a stubborn lot that way. Besides put into perspective, a WHO official said,

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed”

As for what is or isn’t in your hot dog. I’d like to remind you that you’re eating a GOD DAMNED HOT DOG! Even if you choose a meatless one it’s still probably just random parts swept up off the floor after they were done making real food, that’s thrown into the hopper of some industrial grinder by some schlub, who’s supervisor is on his ass about production quotas, and then extruded into a tube-like shape for your face cramming pleasure1.  I’d like to think that we all got the memo that said the FDA2 has set what it views as “acceptable” limits of things we’d all rather not know about in our favorite comestibles. I’m not going to get into details, you can just Google that stuff if you feel like being slightly mortified for the rest of your day.

All in all I am glad that there are organizations like the WHO and Clear Foods that apparently have our interests at heart, or are at least willing to make the attempt at convincing us they do. The problem for me is how we get our information dispersed to us; in little packets with flashy names, with very little of anything digestible inside.

Or, am I talking about our food again?


  1. This is partially conjecture on my part and largely an excuse to use the words “extruded”, “tube-like” and, “face cramming pleasure” all in the same sentence. 
  2. Insert the appropriate puppet agency that is responsible for making you feel safe about the food supply in your country, if you like. 

The Morning Coffee Comes Late Today

The morning coffee comes late today,
Gone are dregs from night before.
The child awoke in sluggish fasion,
Two bowls of cereal and asks for more.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Kid to dress and bag to pack.
Out of time and out the door,
Sadly it is the caffeine I lack.

The morning coffee comes late today.
We hurry our way down the street.
To a morning finess group,
Cause she’s got some friends to meet.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Back home still no time to brew.
I plot my errands on city bus,
Oh there’s just to much shit to do.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Book store trip, then a groceries buy.
I’ve lost all patience with mankind,
And just then bagel shop I spy.

The morning coffee comes late today,
The line is long I’ll have to say.
Place the order,
The five bucks I pay.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Cardboard cup contains house blend.
I sit and sip,
My shakes now end.

Happy Monday!

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Cake Plate

If ever I should want to revisit anger all I have to do is lean over the table in the kitchen that holds the toaster and the all important coffee maker, and look past the rack full of dishes to peer behind the fridge. That’s where the cake plate lives. At least that’s where it lives now. Wallowing upside down and all but forgotten.

Sometime next year, in mid-March, I’ll be forced to crawl under the table, squeezing past the microwave that rests beneath it supported by the milk crates where we keep our canned goods; then, with much groaning and straining, stretch my arm until I think my shoulder is going to dislocate, back behind the appliance in hopes of reaching the shiny metal platter with the very tips of my fingers, it’s lid hopefully locked firmly in place so it can be inched towards me and passed upwards to my wife. It will then be washed in preparations for the only purpose for it’s existence; to transport my daughter’s birthday cake  from our tiny two bedroom apartment to whatever park we have decided to hold her party at. When the complaining, sweaty children have devoured their fill of chocolate coated sugar sponge, that will probably also involve strawberries. It then will be carried back home without ceremony by my exhausted wife and I, so that it can shuffled about our tiny kitchen for a few days while we struggle to dispose of the inevitable leftovers; without either gorging ourselves on sugar, or actually throwing away potentially edible cake. This latter condition serves mainly to avoid the wrath of the small child who keeps careful track of how many theoretical slices are left beneath that sacred metal dome.

Once this is accomplished it will be cleaned and dried then put back together, making sure the lid is firmly locked into place. The freshly polished vessel will be returned to its proper and prominent place, on top of the fridge, because it is too big and its shape to awkward to be stored anywhere else.

And there is will rest…

For about two days…

Until I am trying to take a nap in the living room…

And the god damned cat climbs up there for no reason and knocks the useless thing behind the refrigerator again.

Cats are jerkfaces.

The Way It Makes You Feel

It is an amazing  mystery to me how a song, or even a small portion of it can utterly change your mood and transform your day.

Like that morning cup of coffee, the right song first thing in the morning gets you up and going, possibly with your half-asleep booty shaking once or twice in the process.

A song from you past can fill you with nostalgia those weekends high school, right after you got you license and you would see how many of your delinquent buddies could pile into a 1985 Mercury Lynx and drive into Seaside Heights to terrorize the boardwalk, and play pinball every damned weekend.

It was like watching a clown car unload. Provided that the clowns all wore trench coats and denim jackets, chain smoked, and swore at the top of their lungs

It was like watching a clown car unload. Provided that the clowns all wore trench coats and denim jackets, chain smoked, and swore at the top of their lungs

Then there’s that song that your ex used to just love so much you thought for sure they would be the first person in history wear CD out. Well either that or you were going to snap the fucking thing to pieces and force them to eat it; and when you hear it after all these years, you still wonder why you didn’t.

Ever notice how just the first few bars of some old tune can be a bittersweet reminder of a loved one who passed away several years ago, but now you can still hear them singing along just as clearly as if they were standing next to you.

It is so easy for the way we feel to be influenced by music. I was reminded of this when one day when leaving for work. Just like every other day I put in my ear buds, opened up my internet radio. I had been feeling a little beaten down by life and then the music started

I quickly discovered it is impossible to walk down the street listening to this and not feel like a total badass.

Even if you are drinking a sparkling mineral water.

Mercury Lynx photo taken by Bull-Doser and is in the public domain.