Let me get one thing out of the way really quickly: the Office Drone Lifestyle isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Success in an office environment just means not placing last. You don’t want to be the person doing the least amount of work, because then you run the risk of a verbal lashing by your superiors. But you also don’t want to be the person doing the most work, because that leads to more attention, more responsibilities, more misery, and worst of all, more room to fuck up.
No, you want to be MARGINALLY BETTER than the person doing the least amount of work. Just let the laziest worker’s laziness obscure the fact that you are a massive waste of the company’s salary. This is foolproof as long as you’re able to feign both enthusiasm and productivity. Greeting co-workers and banging on your keyboard like you’re testing the infinite monkey theorem are great ways to make yourself appear invaluable (which, I recently learned, means very valuable instead of not valuable).
I’ve come to understand it’s the little things that make office life tolerable. The five-minute naps in the bathroom stall, motivational cubicle posters, unlimited coffee supply — these are what keep me from seeking out the closest jump-offable highway overpass every day.
But one object stands out above all the other whimsical details. And it embodies the worst of corporate culture. It’s a disturbing phenomenon, even though it really shouldn’t be. Like rip current or a department store Santa.
I’m referring to your typical office coffee mug.
You like your coffee mug, right? How could you not? I mean, it’s just so damn YOU! It has your college mascot on it. You bought a Könitz Porzellan covered with lines from classic American literature! You don’t want people thinking you consulted Sparknotes when you were assigned those books in high school. No, you ACTUALLY READ those books, and every single one of your coworkers must see that! Old Susie Twinklefart two cubicles down has one that’s temperature-sensitive. It changes colors when she pours her hot Tuscan Old Grey grapefruit green tea. CHRIST ON A CORNDOG SCIENCE IS INCREDIBLE.
Well, your coffee mug is not awesome for one important reason: it’s crawling with more bacteria than a game of Twister with naked Ebola patients.
Take a second and think about that goddamn mug. That was a great day when you brought it in for the first time. You grabbed it right out of the dishwasher, when it was spotless and steamy. You rubbed it all over your body because it was nice and warm and made you feel like someone was holding you and telling you everything’s going to be all right even though the world is an uncivil place full of war, racial injustice, Adam Sandler, and eel soup.
And that first “capah joe” was undeniably magnificent! You brought that cylindrical personification of yourself into the office kitchen, poured a hot cup of Bold Blue Mountain Arabica, added some cream and sugar (because people that drink coffee black drink it that way so they can tell other people they drink it that way), and instantly slurped it down without so much as flinching at your burning esophageal sphincter.
Then, you left it on your desk over the weekend without so much as turning it upside down to let the black tar residue drip out. This, my friend, is where you fucked yourself into oblivion.
You come in on Monday and you look into your coffee mug. It’s a black hole. The bottom is caked in caffeinated fungus. The toxic corporate air must have polluted the entire base. It’s like a car crash seconds before it happens – you don’t want to look at it, but you DO want to look at it.
Take it to the kitchen to clean it off. Run it under some water really quick and you’ll be ready to start drinking handcrafted coffee magic in no time. The whole building knows you’re a chemist with the spices, foams, sweeteners, creams, milks, shots, pumps, syrups, drizzles, even the CHAIS. They know to wear goggles when entering the room.
But you and I both know that filling it up with water is a futile exercise. There’s no sponges/soap/rags/flamethrowers/cleaning supplies of any kind lying around to help you, and this infuriates you beyond words.
You are left with two choices here, neither of which are ideal: (1) shatter your mug in the middle of the office hallway, engage in a Nic Cage-esque rant about why they should’ve never given you your god damn honey, quit, and slash everyone’s tires in the parking lot, or (2) keep using your stool receptacle for the foreseeable future and pray you don’t catch some Hercules strain of E. coli.
You selected 2. Didn’t you? That’s what everyone does. We’re all filthy disgusting fucks. But what could we do?
Use the Styrofoam cups? The ones in the upper-left cabinet next to the sporks? Nah. Now those are gross.