This thing’s gone far enough

OK, I should probably admit to you where I was going when I drove by the girl who was talking on the phone while jogging. I mean, if I don’t face up to my problem, how am I ever going to get better?

I was on my way to … well, to this place again. What’s so bad, or noteworthy about that? Well, this was the first time ever that I left work and drove halfway across town and back for no other purpose than to fetch myself a cup of coffee. In the past, it’s always been, "Hey, I think I’ll go book-browsing," or, "I have an errand to run in Five Points," or, "I need to go to a hotspot to do some blogging" — and pretty much always on a weekend.

(Oh, and for those of you keeping score on my time management: Except for that 20 minutes, which substituted for a lunch hour, I was very productive the rest of the day. Especially after that last coffee. So judge not, lest ye also become a blogger.)

This time, I didn’t even pretend there was an excuse. I had been thinking about my next cup of coffee ever since I had my last one, at breakfast (unless you count that half a cup I got at mid-morning, after begging the guy in the downstairs canteen to open back up just for me to get a refill, and then draining what little was left in the insulated carafe thingie). So first chance I got between meetings and such, I put on my coat, muttered something about "an errand or two to run," and drove straight there.

Here I am acting all bemused at the idiosyncracies of youth (my last post) one minute, then the next I’m standing in a long line of them waiting for a caffeine fix. I listen to them rattle off elaborate, absurdly complex orders that sound like litanies chanted in a foreign tongue — with repetitive responses intoned by the help behind the counter — and edge forward, waiting for when I can order my "plain coffee." The lad in front of me actually asks, "What do you have?" The reply is, "Depends on whether you want hot or cold." Everyone — except me — is hugely entertained when he asks for something in-between, and is informed that’s one thing they don’t have.

By the time he removes his inconvenient self and I belly up, I’ve scrapped plans for "just a small one," and order the "grande." The counterman overfills it — no objections from me there — and I ruin a perfectly good dress shirt and pair of gray pants trying to drive back. Ah, but it’s worth it. It tastes lovely. I even find myself tearing away the insulating wrap to savor the inanity of "The Way I See It No. 49." I am utterly lacking in discrimination at this point.

This is madness. I managed to quit Vicodin when I had taken it day and night for weeks after I broke my ribs kickboxing several years back. (And believe me, I felt its pull. No wonder it’s the favorite addiction of TV writers, from "House" to "The Book of Daniel.") So what’s with this? Why does this dark brew charm me to greater foolishness each day?

Well, I’m going to summon what shreds of self-respect I have left. Tomorrow, one coffee with breakfast. A big one. But that’s it. Or maybe another small one, if they’re just going to dump it out anyway. But no more mad, mid-day quests.

Today I hit rock-bottom. There’s only one way to go now.

9 thoughts on “This thing’s gone far enough

  1. Herb

    A good cup of tea in the morning, and often a good jolt of joe in the afternoon slump. That’s my pattern. Of course, caffeine probably aggravates my RLS, but I take pretty hefty doses of Requip (which is the only thing that works, despite “snake oil” treatment claims to the contrary) starting after lunch, which make me sleepy, so I need a jolt.
    Of course, I like tea so much, I bring it back from England when I have the chance, and I like coffee so much, I bring it back from Germany (Jacobs or Tchibo Feine Milde).
    Fourbucks? That’s generally reserved from my bi-annual shopping venture with daughter no. 3 (in age, not importance). She is the best one for helping me find a Christmas/birthday present for my wife, and after the work is done, we have to celebrate. It’s the only time I go to Columbiana Mall, if I can help it.
    Of course when one is traveling, well, I’ve even been known to drink filling station coffee, which has got to be a step above (or is it below?) contaminated water.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Herb, you’re doing a great job with the links now! You’ve really got the hang of it. Mike C et al. are good teachers.

    Part of the reason why I started drinking coffee again was that I kept falling asleep in important meetings — and in Mass — and I think it’s because of medication I’ve been taking for years for IBS. (I looked up your initials, you look up mine.) Which, come to think of it, is way more personal than I meant to get, but there it is. Of course, the coffee and the CNS stimulation it provides probably contribute to the IBS, so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, I suppose.

  3. Herb

    Thanks! I didn’t have a clue what you guys were doing until Mike showed us.
    I guess IBS is no picnic either. Thing is, I could get a grande latte every day for what I pay in medicine. Oh well, I guess I should be thankful. I had a good friend who died at 50 with ALS.
    Everybody I ask has a different theory about RLS, but I suspect that the same is true about caffeine contributing to the cause. The Germans call a “vicious circle” a “teufelskreis”, or “devil’s circle”, which is even more descriptive.
    But reading US News and World Report, I’ve noticed a number of articles lately about how wonderful coffee is for us, so that makes me feel better every time I drink it. Or is Starbucks secretly shoving funds to Mort Zuckermann?

  4. Herb

    My turn, hmmm. I’m tempted to say that I work for a non-profit, but then that was my choice. I’m just thankful to God that I’m still pretty healthy.
    Speaking of health, I never thought that I would be in that strata of society that spends a large percentage of every-day conversation talking about medications. But the proof is there, right on this page.

  5. Mike C

    Herb is working his way up the HTML ladder.
    There’s a running joke over at last week coffee and caffeine were good, this week they’re bad.
    A really bright pathologist I know asserts that our two best friends are aspirin and caffeine. He agrees, however, with the proposition that one’s genetic makeup is the primary variable in health and longevity; one’s family tree will provide the most important indications as to what one should look out for.
    There’s an important policy issue that impacts many folks: the FDA is reluctant to approve drugs that have a limited population on which they are effective. The result is that Big Pharma is reluctant to develop drugs that benefit a small population. The Vioxx example further reinforces such inclinations and hurts those for whom such specialized drugs offer the only relief. If you suffer from some widespread malady, chances are that you’ll have a variety of remedies to choose from. But if your problem is not widely shared, you’re less likely to get relief.
    I’ve been a coffee drinker about as long as I’ve been a beer drinker – since age 3 – and my family always enjoyed coffee with attitude. I was at home in Deutschland with its good coffee blends, but it’s hard to find a bad cup of joe in the old country. We’d get a jar of freeze-dried Nescafe in each region we visited just to show folks the variations that one brand would produce to please the locals.
    For about the last 25 years I’ve had a cup of espresso every night after dinner. Until late 1999 I made do with a Krupps or Braun espresso maker or coffee pot combo, but then I got lucky.
    During the spring of 1999 Olive Garden restaurants had a promotion where the receipt had a website for comment, with the grand prize being a trip to Tuscany – I had visions of vitello, Chianti Classico, and other goodies. I spent March and April of that year on the road for my employer at the time doing training for Mack Whittle’s bank, literally working ten weeks without a day off. We had training centers in Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia to bring the bank folk up to speed on the new systems they were getting. On some day’s I’d drive from Myrtle Beach to Greenville without a stop at home because of the schedule. (Only got one warning ticket.)
    My trainers and I developed rituals to help cope with the stress and schedule. Sunday late afternoons after training in Greenville saw me at Johnny Rocket’s where they’d brew a fresh pot of coffee when they saw me walk in the door. Monday after the evening class was Olive Garden. I’d take my receipt and use the code to complete the questionnaire. In June I went to work for my present employer.
    [Brag On]In October I got a W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) from a law firm along with a letter notifying me that I’d won something from Olive Garden. In December I got a nice letter from OG containing $100 in gift certificates, notifying me that a La Cimbali would arrive soon. I didn’t know what that meant until the following week when this arrived. The nice thing about it is that the pump handle releases the pressure into the grounds container, enabling one to empty and refill the grounds’ container while the unit remains under pressure. Trying that with the makers I used to have resulted in a minor explosion of grounds and steam over a 1.5 meter area, another reason that I despise the metric system. I really do enjoy my La Cimbali – I would never have considered spending so much for so much. [Brag Off]
    I must confess that as an espresso aficionado, I’m still not quite expert with foamy milk required for cappuccino, but that’s not an essential manly function in any case. I do go to Starbucks once or twice per year, but that’s usually when I’m on the road….

  6. Mark Whittington


    HTML is OK. I’m kind of impressed with homely ole JavaScript with its bare bones OOP. If they’d add some graphing utilities to JavaScript, it would make serious dynamic web pages much easier to make. By the way, I wish Brad’s blog would accept image tags so that we could show some graphs.

  7. Herb

    I used to operate a gadget like that when I made espresso in our sweet-shop back in Germany (we had truckloads of catechism classes for retreats at our youth center — though it was usually the adults who wanted coffee, the kids loaded up on coke — which of course meant that they were still going strong at 2:00 a.m.).
    I think I’ll stick to my Braun coffee-maker for the time being. What I really can’t figure out is the love for instant-coffee in places like India (there are some perks to working for a non-profit). Oh well, the chai is good there, if you can get them to hold the sugar.

  8. Lee

    JavaScript is a lot more secure and simple to maintain than most of the other web page coding languages. That is why major computer companies use it and pure hand-coded HTML to construct their commercial websites.


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