On the Death of My Coffee Maker
It's difficult to lose a loved one. The passing of a family member, the death of a beloved pet — these are traumatic experiences that take time (and sometimes counseling) to get over. I've recently suffered the loss of a long-time friend of mine. Someone I've counted on in times of trouble. Someone who's been there for me. Yes, my beloved Betty Crocker coffee-maker finally gave up the ghost.
I'm a person who lives on coffee. The very first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to go to the kitchen, turn the coffee-maker on, and wait, bleary-eyed and drooping, until enough coffee has dribbled into the pot for me to pour into a cup and drink. I add a dollop of cream and sweetener, plop down at the kitchen table, and listen to the familiar gurgling and chugging coming from old Betty Crocker: early morning sounds that let me know that no matter how grim things may look, everything will improve very shortly.
That routine has been mostly unchanged for the past 12 years. Recently I stumbled into the kitchen and found Ann standing by the kitchen counter.
"Basil, I think the coffee pot's died on us."
"What?" The words didn't pierce my early morning fog. I slumped against the refrigerator and stared stupidly at the silent coffee maker. "Where's the coffee?"
"Hon, the coffee-maker isn't working. It's quit on us."
I looked around the kitchen. "You mean we don't have any coffee?" I reached over and flipped Betty Crocker's switch. Nothing happened. "What are we gonna do? We need coffee."
"For crying out loud, Basil", said Ann, "wait until you get to work and drink your coffee there. I'll pick up another one today."
I flipped Betty Crocker's switch again in the vain hope that the little red light would come on. Nothing.
The morning was a blur of hazy sleep-fog until I made it to work, disheveled and morose, and gulped down 2 cups of coffee. All day Betty Crocker preyed on my mind. Was she really done for? Could she be repaired? After 12 years, was our beautiful friendship finished?
When I arrived home that afternoon, there, resplendent in all it's shining glory, was a gleaming, brand new coffee-maker. I approached it warily. Ah. I noticed immediately that it's one of those where you have to unscrew the top of the pot in order to pour any coffee. At 5:30 in the morning, unscrewing anything is next to impossible. I lifted the carafe and examined it carefully. This thing only makes 8 cups. Not nearly enough to get my household started in the morning.
I walked over to a corner of the kitchen where, forlorn and abandoned, Betty Crocker sat: unplugged, unused, unwanted.
"What are you planning to do with the old coffee maker, Ann?" I asked.
"I'll throw it out with the garbage in the morning."
What? Throw away a boon companion of 12 years? I put my hand protectively on Betty Crocker. "Is that any way to treat an old friend?" I asked. "After 12 years, she's practically family, and now you want to just dump her in the trash like some empty bean can?"
"Basil, quit being so dramatic. That thing's worn out." She walked away shaking her head. "We should have gotten rid of it a couple of years ago."
I lifted the carafe and cradled it to my chest, thinking. How many pots of coffee have I had from you over the years? You've been a true and loyal friend, and now you're headed for the scrap pile. I thought about her lying in the landfill among mouldy potato peelings, dirty diapers and ragged melon rinds. I turned suddenly and picked up the entire coffee maker. Nope, can't do it. It just doesn't seem right, somehow.
I carried Betty Crocker to my closet and sat her on a top shelf. There now, I thought. You get a well-deserved retirement, old girl. No scrap heap for you.
When my wife mentions something about the junked-out old coffee-maker in our closet, I remark loftily that I hope when my useful work days are done I'm not thrown out with the morning garbage. I think she's ready to hire a shrink to evaluate me, but in the meantime my little friend rests quietly in the comfortable darkness of my closet. She's earned her retirement.