The office guy was almost the last person to leave that fateful evening. There were two other stalwarts plugging away at their respective tasks in different areas of the office space, out of sight of the kitchenette area the office guy had to pass on his way to the door and his commute home.
The office guy was almost the last person to leave that fateful evening.
There were two other stalwarts plugging away at their respective tasks in different areas of the office space, out of sight of the kitchenette area the office guy had to pass on his way to the door and his commute home.
The office guy noticed a pot of coffee was still warming on the coffeemaker.
He yelled out to the last two denizens within, “Anybody want any more coffee?”
They yelled back from out-of-sight cubicle and side office, respectively, “All set,” and, “I’m good.”
So the office guy thought he’d do “the right thing,” and not only take the carafe off the warmer and shut the coffeemaker off, but he’d actually empty the pot, clean it, and empty the filter and clean that, as well.
The office guy was not much given to such selfless acts, so this bit of altruism made him feel just a tad like Gandhi.
He removed the carafe and poured its contents into the sink, turned the faucet and began replacing the coffee with warm water.
The office guy wasn’t going to simply rinse the carafe out with water, he decided. He was far too fine a human being for any such half measure. He added a couple drops of dish washing detergent and retrieved the sink brush to give the carafe an interior scrub. Sure, he realized his co-workers wouldn’t know the difference.
But, he reminded himself with the self-approbation of those who are pure in deed, he’d know the difference.
He began scrubbing the glass carafe’s interior with the brush, nudging its exterior ever so slightly against the stainless steel sink’s right wall.
The carafe cracked and broke open like an egg at hatching time.
The office guy no longer felt a tad like Gandhi. He felt a tad like Machine Gun Kelly.
He’d killed the innocent carafe for no reason other than the insane notion that it would be nice to clean it before he left work.
Why was he so darn good?
The next morning the coffee guzzling office crew would gather at the coffee maker and find the desecrated carafe. First, they’d want answers. Then they’d want vigilante justice.
It would be like “The Ox-Bow Incident,” where innocent men are hanged by a revenge-crazed posse.
But those guys were only suspected of murder and cattle rustling.
The office guy had taken away his co-workers’ morning coffee. Lynching would clearly be too good for him.
Sneaking out and playing dumb never occurred to the office guy.
Well, it actually did occur to him but he rejected the idea the moment he realized it wouldn’t work. The two remaining people in the office would bear witness against him. He was the last person seen with the carafe while it was still alive. An act of God would be a tough sell to a cynical band of caffeine-deprived colleagues in the harsh light of the following morning.
But then, with the sudden all’s well that ends well solution found typically in the “it-was-all-a-dream” plot contrivance, his boss emerged from his office and informed the office guy, coffee still on his hands, that there was a spare carafe somewhere about the premises and his crime need never be known save to a handful who would be sworn to secrecy.
The office guy had learned a great lesson.
Let someone else clean the damn thing.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at email@example.com.