A Cup of Coffee with Mrs. Overtime

Mrs. Overtime dropped in last week. I wish someone had given me a heads-up. I would have gone out for the day. She was her usual boorish self. She barged right in like she owned the place and immediately started in, finding fault and barking orders with that serenity shattering voice of hers. Once in ten years she takes over for an hour or so. Her toxic personality, her grating voice, her dumpy little body and that Bull Dyke haircut of hers tests the very limits of my well-practiced tolerance. It appears from observing her that the more ignorant a person is, the more assertive and cock-sure they are.

She ruined my coffee pot. She decided to make herself some coffee. She just helped herself like she was at home. She disapproved of the condition of my coffee pot, so she washed it first, neither knowing that it was in fact my coffee pot nor asking for my permission to use it. It was my coffee, too; and my filter.

I informed her: “You never wash a coffee pot.”

I am not an unreasonable man.

Most modern drip coffee makers are made with thermoplastic parts. Most people think plastic lasts forever. Not so. While it may take longer for man-made plastics to degrade in the environment, they nevertheless do degrade over time. Every time hot water is applied to the coffee pot’s thermoplastic parts some of it breaks down on a molecular level and is released into the water, tainting the coffee. Washing it always leaves a dish detergent residue and a toxic chemical taste. What appear to be stains on the pot is actually dehydrated coffee; which is exactly what instant coffee is.

My coffee pot was broken in. My coffee pot was well seasoned. My coffee pot was patinaed. The thermoplastic parts of my coffee pot were coated with a film of essential oils of the coffee bean. This oily film formed a barrier between the plastic and detergent residue and the coffee.

Mrs. Overtime’s coffee tastes like plastic and dish soap.

My coffee tastes like coffee.

My filter; my coffee; my coffee pot; my home.

My Life, too.

Just before she left she ordered me to clean the dust bunnies from behind the stove;

said they’d start a fire.

“You never wash a coffee pot.”

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About The Twentieth Man

Age 67
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2 Responses to A Cup of Coffee with Mrs. Overtime

  1. John says:

    I once knew a man…

    …Who had a coffee cup. He was a past colleague of mine, with whom I worked many years ago. But first, a little background…

    Every morning after arriving at work, there was the “first cup of coffee” ritual that involved virtually all of the technical staff of the fourth floor.

    Normally, I didn’t pay attention to who was drinking what kind of coffee or who used which cup, but we all generally had our own personal coffee cups. You know, personal. Each would have a certain shape, color or logo that describes who the owner of the cup was. You could say that one’s coffee cup was an avatar of it’s owner. In fact, I would go so far as to claim one could use their coffee cup in place of a picture ID if the need should arise.

    So the morning ritual would involve grabbing one’s coffee cup, (which was more like an extension of one’s arm), and head over to the coffee pot. There always seemed to be a coffee cup hanging off everyone’s arm at any given time of the day. (Most tasks worth doing had better be one-handed tasks -Ed.) At any rate, every morning we’d all, one by one, wander over to the coffee pot, pour that first cup, and perhaps engage in some conversation. So after participating in this ritual long enough, we got to know all of the people and their coffee cups.

    Now, they say that people look like their dogs. I wouldn’t say that is true of coffee cups, in general, but if there was a stray, unclaimed coffee cup sitting out on a table or work bench, you did know who the owner was. Some times our coffee cups would be left at the sink near the morning watering hole as one might have rinsed out their java vessel and hurried home the night before. Some times, these cups would pile up un-rinsed at the sink near the coffee pot.

    The next morning, the first person in might have a little time to offer and perhaps rinse out the piled up cups, then turn them upside down to drip dry. By the time the cup’s owner would arrive in the morning, they had a fresh clean cup.

    One morning, I was that first-man-in. And there was only two cups to rinse, mine and one other. Mine was relatively clean and just needed a rinse. (I’m a rinser not a scrubber. I happen to favor a cup that is soap-residue-free. But I do rinse.) The other, was a nasty looking crud-filled cup that looked more like a laboratory beaker with an experiment that went bad contained inside. I’m sure that Mrs. Overtime would have tossed it (my self, I contemplated calling hazmat.) The color range was incredible! Browns to blues and greens were all clearly visible depending on the angle of light hitting the inside of the cup. It had a definite iridescent nature to it. There were layers on top of layers of old dried coffee (I think). There were cracks in the crud on the bottom that hinted as to how thick the layers were. It looked like a 12-ounce mug on the outside, but I am sure of actual content, it would only hold six.

    Several minutes had passed before I finally decided I would let the next-guy-in rinse this cup. Just seconds after this decision, the next man did come in, saw the cup and said, “Oh, that’s B—‘s cup”. Then we both just stood there looking at the cup. Motion less. Speechless. My colleague suggested we not touch the cup. I said “No problem!”

    Just then B— came running in, afraid that we were attempting to wash his cup, he commanded, “Don’t wash my cup!” He hurried over and anxiously examined his cup. Picking up his cup, he poured that first cup of ‘jo’, and then sipped it. Satisfied, he explained about molecules and material surfaces and what all happens when you, wash out coffee cups. In particular his speech revolved around ceramic cups.

    He said that all ceramic material contained lead to some degree, and when scrubbed during washing, would release some of the lead, due the abrasion of the surface. You see, he simply didn’t want lead in his coffee!

    He made me promise, promise mind you, never to wash his coffee cup. I assured him that I would in fact oblige. (Actually I never told him that there was no way he could even make me touch that thing in the first place.)

    The lowly coffee cup, the avatar of what and who we are. We are what we drink after all. It is indeed a personal choice and one should NEVER wash or even touch for that matter, one’s coffee vessel, I don’t care what size shape or color it is!

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