This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. Today we’re going to do something different. None of this blog post is true. It’s a trip into a fictional character’s head. For the sake of the fun. And the puns. I’ve promised to make this blog “meaningful, like a t-shirt”. That’s not going to happen today. Except that, if you’ve encountered a person like Ms Java, you might find it comforting to laugh at her now.
8 a.m, 4 BC
At this time of day, survival depends on avoiding eye contact. I stalk into the office, staring straight ahead. It’s 8 a.m, 4 BC – four minutes Before Coffee.
The office is, as usual, in crisis mode. Jilly has a pile of faxes and a desperate expression. Mike is shouting at the printer, because it has sprayed black gunge over the proofs which we need at the 9 a.m. meeting. Ellen stands on a desk, waving three phones at me while she tries to pick up a fourth with her toes. (Why does she paint her toe nails that dippy puce?) More frantic faces spew out of offices all down the passage which leads to my room.
Every day it’s the same. Haven’t they figured it out yet? Don’t they know that I can’t cope with the daily grind until I’ve drunk my first coffee down to the grounds? Let them swap irritated looks, let them mutter under their breaths as I sweep past. Let trouble brew until I’ve had my first dark, rich roast. Will it be arabica or robusta today, or perhaps modest liberica? Don’t bother me with any decisions except that one.
My door opens to a cloud of warm, fragrant steam. My very own espresso machine gleams fire-engine red, hissing and spitting on its table, set to one side of the finest view in the office. The finest view in the building, to tell it straight. I’m that good.
Outside my window, and far far below, is the most treacherous slice of motorway in the city. I watch the toy cars dicing with death as I gently blow away a puff of steam. The hiss of milk frothing onto hot coffee announces the most perfect cup of the day. Without a word, Dan hands it to me and leaves the room. He, at least, knows how the day should start. If only his good sense would filter through the others’ thick skins and percolate down through the organogram.
Two cappuccinos later, it’s time to give an underling a roasting. Underlings are like the sludge at the bottom of a good Greek coffee: necessary but tiresome.
“Send Ellen in.”
“Yes, Ms Java.” The intercom responds immediately to my murmured order. Thirty seconds later, there’s a tap at the door.
Ellen’s head appears. Her gaze goes instantly to my chrome-topped coffee table. I see her eyes counting the empty cups. She’s not too bright, but she can count to two. She decides that two cups mean it’s safe to enter. Wrong!
That one word is enough. I got the tone just right. With some satisfaction, I watch her face whiten until she has just one pink spot in the middle of each cheek.
“Dan says you fell asleep over your PC yesterday evening.”
“Yes, Ms Java. Sorry, Ms Java. It was late, and…”
“Quiet! No excuses. There’s plenty of caffeine around to keep you on your toes.”
“I can’t drink coffee, Ms Java. It makes me all hyped up and shivery.”
“Then you don’t belong here, Ellen.”
“And I hate your nail polish.”
“Yes, Ms Java.”
“Very well. On your way, Ellen.”
“Yes, Ms Java.” She scurries out of the door, freshly ground and roasted to perfection.
Time for the management meeting. Dan fixes me a good strong arabica. He knows I can’t even begin to express myself without a double espresso. My points carry the meeting. The others just sit there, hissing and sputtering like a row of sub-standard coffee machines.
The day wears on. The coffee beans are beginning to lose their potency. It’s time to sit in front of my computer screen and let the rest of the day pass me by. My head is buzzing, my mouth tastes like nothing on earth, my heart is trying to burst out of my rib cage. It’s seriously time to leave me alone. The staffers should know that. But still they keep coming.
I have cultivated a knack for dealing with them.
In comes Jilly, who considers herself my confidante. The others use her to gauge my mood. She’s wearing some sort of ghastly cap and yellow chino trousers. There’s a blouse there somewhere, but it fades into insignificance. So does her face, and everything else about her except the head gear and chinos. Watch how I deal with her.
“How do ya like my cap ‘n chinos?” she tweets, twirling round and round for my benefit.
“Yes, thanks, but make mine an espresso instead,” is my quick reply.
See? Once you’ve done it a few times, it’s a snap. Jilly looks puzzled – she doesn’t get it. She’s slow, to put it politely. She and Ellen fell out of the same tree. But she does understand the word “espresso”, so she wafts over to the coffee table.
I watch her with faint amusement. Her clothes are unspeakable. Glancing down at my own trim outfit, I congratulate myself on its style. Like coffee, people lose their unique identity unless properly packaged. I go for the hermetically sealed vacuum-pack look myself. Sleek, synthetic, tightly zipped from neckline to knee.
Jilly leaves my office, not quite sure what happened in here, but happy enough. I laugh out loud. There’s a knock at the door, and Mike appears in time to catch the dregs of my chuckle.
“You’re full of beans,” he says.
“Not yet,” is my zippy answer. “But if you bring me a coffee, it’ll top me up.”
See, there’s that knack again. Mike looks a bit freeze-dried, but brings the coffee. They all know how to do that. He’s forgotten what he wanted, so he leaves too.
There you have it, my technique for getting through the day. It’s an exclusive blend of strength and bitterness, in a zip-sealed package. The product of expert roastings, based on years of tradition. Keep refrigerated.