Monday, July 12, 2004

Coffee of Mass Destruction

Starting a new job is one minefield after another. Its bad enough having to wait days for access to a PC, networks and email accounts, whilst you certainly can do without wondering what the lunch arrangements are, if you need money on a card or whether you are welcome to join one of the cliques.

Its even worse having to try and remember all the names of the people you've been introduced to, impossible to read and digest the forest worth of reading matter dished up and a dead cert that you will take a wrong turn in the unfamiliar corridor maze.

But the sole worse thing about starting a new job must be the coffee machine etiquette. There should be a British standard for it. A level which all workplaces must operate at before being given their Klix worthiness certificates. Should workplaces install their systems? Instead of giving guidelines for workplace equality the government should be concentrating their resources on Coffee Machine Etiquette, its a vote winner i tell thee.

All hell breaks loose with no hard and fast system for caffeine re-fuelling in a workplace, resulting in an each man for himself policy and a breakdown of working relationships just because of the absence of a simple protocol. Communist Russia fell after an argument about whose round it was escalated, several Bosnian Serbs have been indicted for coffee crimes.

New groups and cliques are formed due to coffee machine tactics, coffee drinkers with similar tactics go onto form their own splinter groups and stay within that group for life. Its very difficult to infiltrate these gangs once set up, they suspect everyone. Others are outsiders.

There are many small factions of drinkers: there are the people who bring their own coffee, mugs and milk in and those who sneak to the machine and come back with a drink just for themselves. Then there are ones who cant handle the idle gossip that going down that route brings and end up waddling back down the office with an armful and an empty pocket even though they didnt want to.

Every office also has at least one tray hugger who will spring up and sing 'right, whats everyone having?' whenever they fancy a drink and not mind the cost, and then theres the free water brigade shamed into buying a round of coffee because its their turn to fetch the drinks.

But the fag room gang are the hardest of the coffee drinking groups. Its best to have a friend among them. Even if it means smelling of smoke for the rest of the day. A seat at the top table awaits.

An etiquette would make all our lives easier in a job, resulting in a happier, more productive place of work: "here's your log on, your employee handbook, your desk. Oh, and a copy of the coffee machine etiquette. Dont lose it".