My new job is a largely administrative one. I print things out, answer the phones, and get the mail for important people. I also make the coffee every morning before the bosses get in. Since this is my first real office job, and I’m not a religious coffee drinker, my knowledge of coffee-pot technology is still in its infancy.

The first day I tried brewing coffee, the boss complained that it was too strong. The second day, I used a different type of coffee and less of it. But I left the pot on too long. The coffee burned. Everyone who walked into the office said “Gee, it smells like burnt coffee in here.” Never having hung around an office long enough to smell burnt coffee, I hung my head in deference to the pot, turned it off, and dumped out the humiliating liquid.

There’s only so much you can get away with while you’re young and new. So I started afresh, determined not to screw up yet again. Wednesday morning I arrived at 9 and made the coffee. Right kind, perfect ratio of coffee grounds to water, turned off the hot plate to avoid burnt coffee aroma drifting through office around lunchtime.

Boss arrived at 10. Poured coffee.

“There’s something wrong with this.”


“It’s cold.”

“Oh,” I said, wishing I could swim back to California through a sea of perfectly steamed lattes that would sear into my skin the disappointment of screwing up the one most important task in my daily routine (occasionally I feel a similar burning sensation when I screw up the call transferring on the phones).

I’ve started drinking coffee now, if only to figure out how to make it better. Friday I tried again, in my relentless pursuit of perfection. The boss arrived. Poured coffee.

“It’s perfect,” she said. My internal smile was wider than any kindergardener’s upon earning a teacher’s praise for counting to ten.

I can make coffee. I have tamed the office.


2 Responses to “Goldilocks”

  1. Mom Says:

    best to let Stanford know that they failed in your education (or is this one my department?)! in our office, those that drink the coffee make the coffee whenever they feel the urge…and our AA doesn’t drink it.

  2. Grandpa Says:

    It’s kindergartener, not kindergardener.

    Nevertheless, we enjoy your essays. Maybe you should have taken coffee lessons at our house! I’ll vote for you for breadmaker anytime.

    We played a piece called “Yosemite Autumn” at our last concert. When I get the CD, I’ll send you a copy.

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