Thursday, August 19, 2004

Coffee Clutch
Chock Full O’ Nuts is terrible coffee really, under any circumstances, and I’m not a coffee snob. I don’t like instant, my parents drink that Folgers Crystals stuff and it sucks, but I’ll drink most anything else. Deli coffee, fine. Cofee-cart coffee, not bad, 2 sugars please. Starbucks too strong, too bitter, too corporate? Tastes great to me.

Chock Full O’ Nuts is crap though, and that’s what we have in the ESL department of Shitty Bronx High School. I don’t know who makes these decisions, but it’s not me. I’d complain, but I’m sure the alternative is worse. I paid $20 (to Mrs. Robinns of course) for the privilege of drinking this coffee daily. They call this arrangement, this co-operative effort, a “Coffee Clutch,” I don’t know why.

There’s no milk or cream, or any refrigerator to put such delicacies in for that matter, so the options are non-dairy creamer or black. I choose black. I also go no sugar. I went with the creamer and the sugar at first, but it still tasted like shit, so I figured black was healthier, or not quite so toxic at least.

So I choke my little Styrofoam cup or two of coffee down - black, weak, soapy - like it’s cough medicine or a shot of Jagermeister, and it gets me through the day. I try going without every now and then if I’m feeling adventurous and reasonably not hung-over. My subsequent low energy level generally rubs off on the kids and we have a relatively mellow day. I’d do it more often if I could.

The worst part about the coffee is the water. I know where it comes from. Sometimes I even go to get it myself. I know what you’re imagining. Most offices have one of those big, blue water cooler things, glug-glug. We don’t. It’s a school though, right? So we’ve got water fountains. Nope, they’re broken and filled with lung-oysters and sometimes even urine.

So when I must play martyr and go fill up the coffee pot with water, I trudge down to the teacher bathroom, unlock it with my key, brace myself for the wall of disinfectant/urine/sewage stench and wade in, nostrils flared. There I must fill up the pot in the sink, the same sink everyone (or everyone who’s not completely disgusting) uses after they’ve taken a dump, approximately six inches away from the pube-garden of the urinal. This is not a quick process either. The faucet is the type you punch down on causing an allotment of water to spurt out. This allotment of water is not enough to wash your hands with or even get them wet. It could make them damp, if you had small hands. So I stand there surrounded by stench, coffee pot wedged into the sink, trying not to touch any tainted porcelain, and punching the faucet over and over until the pot is full. I then emerge - inevitably a student is there and looks from me to the bathroom to the coffee pot with visible disgust - and return to the office to brew up another pot of Chock Full o’ Nuts.

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