“I don’t understand it. I’ve never been so frustrated in my entire life.” Jarvis looked down at his trembling hands and heaved a sigh of defeat. All he wanted was his morning cup of coffee. It was now 3pm and his day had unraveled with such immense perplexity, he was close to tears. Jarvis had not missed a single morning’s coffee since he first started drinking it in his college days. Feeling the full effects of its absence today was pushing his limits in ways he didn’t expect. What had he done to cause the universe to turn on him in such a cruel manner?
“I mind my own business, don’t I?” he asked no one. “I don’t make trouble. I keep my head down, I do my job, pay my taxes and don’t complain,” he sniffled, not caring that the hot tears streaming down his face gave him a slightly unhinged look as he entered the mall’s food court.
And it was true. Jarvis had done everything right in his life. He didn’t steal his neighbor’s newspapers, he brought his trashcans in from the curb, he tipped his mailman quite generously each Christmas and he always took on the extra work that his coworkers declined. Come to think of it, Jarvis was kind of a pushover. People tended to take advantage of Jarvis, and not wanting to ‘rock the boat’ as he would say, Jarvis tended to let them.
Today was no different, despite his desperate need for coffee. Of course he had not started out feeling desperate. At first, he had brushed off the day’s ‘coffee mishaps’ as he coined them (Jarvis really liked coming up with catchy little phrases for just about everything) as nothing more than coincidence. That had been hours ago. Now, wincing from a caffeine headache, Jarvis was beginning to think that the ‘coffee mishaps’ were more deliberate.
That morning, lucky travel mug in hand, Jarvis stood for a minute frowning at the silent, and more importantly, empty coffee maker. It had failed to churn out his morning brew and checking his watch, he knew that he wouldn’t have time to make a cup. “I guess I’ll just have to scoop up a cup on my way to work. Wonder what kind of java juice they got bubblin’ at the ‘ol grab n’ go today,” he mused out loud. With that, Jarvis waved at Victor, the handyman remodeling his kitchen, and backed out of his driveway. Turning back to his work, Victor stared at the blue paperclip he had just dislodged from the houses’ electrical panel, “what are you doing in there,” he said to it. Seeing that the paperclip was not in a talkative mood, Victor stashed it in his front pants pocket and flipped the circuit breaker to Jarvis’ kitchen back on.
Pulling out of the drive-thru, Jarvis could almost taste the dark bitter flavor of his $4.79 Jamaican blend, as its intoxicating aroma filled the car. Tipping his head back for the first sip, Jarvis suddenly abandoned his coffee as the Honda truck in front of him screeched to a stop in order to avoid a very ominous-looking plastic grocery bag. “Well, shoot a monkey in the behind,” Jarvis clucked his tongue as he shook off the scalding coffee that now covered his hands and upper arms.
Upset by his drenched shirt, pants, hands, and floor mats, and at losing his morning pick-me-up once again, Jarvis thought seriously about sucking some of the coffee from his shirt sleeve. “Oh well, I’ll just have to drink from the office swill bucket,” he chuckled good-naturedly to himself. “Heh heh…swill bucket; Jarvis you’re a hoot!” he shook his head at his perceived cleverness. After a thirty-five minute drive and a quick change into the spare clothes he always kept at the office, Jarvis was looking forward to grabbing a cup of the ‘office swill’ before settling into his cubicle for the day (or as he referred to it, into his work box).
Heading to the break room, Jarvis stopped short to read the sign that had been duct-taped across the break room’s threshold. Break room closed, floor being waxed. Thanks, The Cleaning Staff. “Now what,” Jarvis mumbled to himself.
The rest of the day proved to be no better.
As Jarvis was returning from his lunch break, a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere, drenching him and his cup of fresh coffee until the paper cup disintegrated in his hand.
Carl had managed to get everyone’s order right (for once!) during the usual 2:30pm coffee run. Except one. Somehow Jarvis had ended up with a large lemongrass and ginger root herbal tea.
Even the coffee vending machine on the 3rd floor had turned against him and was suddenly out-of-order.
Leaving work early, Jarvis had driven directly to the mall where he knew he could finally put the day’s ‘coffee mishaps’ behind him. There were at least three places that served coffee inside the mall, plus the small café inside the Borders Bookstore.
He tried Borders first and found their doors locked and their windows dark. Apparently due to a slump in book sales (amongst other things) the store had gone out of business. “When did that happen?” he wondered as he turned towards the mall entrance.
The next three tries were a bust as well- one was out of everything but decaf, the second stopped serving coffee at 1pm and upon ordering at the last vendor Jarvis realized he had left his wallet at the office. Teetering on the brink of a complete meltdown, Jarvis wandered around the mall aimlessly. Staring blankly at a coffee service display in the Crate & Barrel, Jarvis felt a light tap on his shoulder. “Java juice…” he mumbled incoherently. The tap grew more insistent and Jarvis turned to face two security officers scowling at him.
“Sir, we’ve been getting complaints about a man wandering around the mall and mumbling to himself. You need to come with us,” the senior officer said as he puffed his chest out. Too tired, and too beaten to put up any protest, Jarvis followed them through a side door that read in peeling letters, Mall Employees Only. They sat him down in a dark room where an entire wall was comprised of TV monitors displaying live feed from the multiple cameras placed throughout the mall. The senior officer was saying something to Jarvis but he couldn’t bring himself to pay attention. After 20 minutes or so of his blustering, the officer walked out of the room, to file a report or balance a pen on his nose; Jarvis really couldn’t have said.
“Sorry about him,” Jarvis looked up to see the younger officer giving him an apologetic look. “He just really loves to hear himself talk,” the young officer continued, he didn’t look a day over twenty-one. His name tag read: Billy Michaels. Jarvis gave Billy a weak smile before putting his head in his hands.
“Here, you look like you could use this.”
Perking up at the familiar smell, Jarvis let out a little yelp as he looked up to see a Styrofoam cup of steaming, black coffee in Billy’s outstretched hand. He couldn’t recall a time he had been happier than the moment he gulped down that first swallow of the crappiest coffee he had ever tasted. “Delicious,” he crooned and Billy brought him four more cups before Jarvis was finally released and put into a cab.
At home, Jarvis walked straight through the kitchen and into the bedroom where he collapsed onto his bed, instantly falling asleep. Had he not been so exhausted he might have noticed the full pot of coffee his coffee maker had belatedly produced in his absence.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: I needed tea this morning. Bad. Just like I need my tea every morning (if you doubt the severity of the situation, try engaging me in a conversation first thing in the morning before I’ve sucked down this elixir from the gods and all doubt will promptly be removed, I assure you). So upon arriving in my office this morning, I grab my tea cup (more like bucket… it’s kinda big) and sashay down the hallway to microwave some hot water. But what’s this? The break room of my office is filled with six or more cleaning women who have moved everything into the doorway as they prepare to wax the floor. Of the break room. The necessity of waxing a break room floor first thing in the morning (we’re talking 8am, folks) had me completely agape in confusion (this might have been due to my inability to generate any rational thoughts due to the lack of caffeine… see first sentence). Seeing that I would not be granted entrance at that particular moment, I bit my quivering lip and staunchly sulked back to my office. After a few more attempts to no avail, I was becoming, shall we say, a bit miffed? I felt as if my very life’s blood was being denied and my eyes were not going to stay open on their own, people. Eventually the waxing job was completed (that sounded weird) and I was able to steep a cup of much-needed Earl Grey… so the earth was allowed to continue spinning… you’re welcome.
TWO: The thunderstorm in the story was included to honor what I will dub as Orlando’s first summer season thunderstorm. These storms are easy to identify as they roll out of a perfectly blue sky around 3:00pm, drop a ton of rain and then, within about an hour or so they are gone, leaving more blue sky and muggy heat in their wake.
THREE: While I didn’t have any coffee to spill, I did have a mild heart attack on the drive home when the truck in front of me stopped short. Thankfully the roads had time to dry from the previously mentioned thunderstorm and ‘Tink’ (my car) was able to come to a stop mere centimeters from their bumper. Have I mentioned how much I hate my commute? Cause I really hate my commute.
FOUR: The phrase “shoot a monkey in the behind” was a common phrase uttered by my mom as I was growing up. It was usually said after a stumped toe, adding too much salt to the mashed potatoes or upon the realization she forgot to pick up milk during her visit to Publix. I was just thinking of my mom (a.k.a. Ginger Spice) today so thought I’d add one of her catch phrases. Additionally, the coffee maker featured above is my mom’s. She left it while crashing at my pad, and since it’s always empty (I don’t drink coffee) it served as a perfect illustration for today’s story.
Love & Squirrels.