We Can’t Start the Meeting…The Coffee Isn’t Ready

Starting a new job in an office setting can be really stressful. There are a whole slew of personalities to deal with and anxiety about not messing up. Of all the things that can go wrong such as an email sent erroneously – like a response in a heated spousal quarrel sent to the Director of Finance with the entire company in copy as opposed to person you are arguing with; true story, unfortunately. Or perhaps not sending a fax or breaking a piece of expensive office equipment. All of these things may occur but whatever happens do not mess up the coffee.

It may seem quite laughable but it is a fact that 161,000 profiles on LinkedIn list “coffee” as a viable job skill. Doing coffee correctly is indeed an important job skill as the fallout from a botched coffee order can be catastrophic.

The Coffee Catastrophe

It was my second day at a new job and it was for an arm’s length government organisation that involved coordinating with members of various non-profits. This meant meetings, lots and lots of meetings. For this particular meeting, there were people flying in from Ottawa and it was really early to boot so it was moot that coffee must be served. I was directed nonchalantly by my co-worker/supervisor to order up “the coffee” from the coffee shop located in the lobby of the building. At the time I was really into flavoured coffee and being a bit nervous, I thought I would order medium size cups of coffee for the same amount of people at the meeting. I thought that I was just a total whiz for getting a few hazelnut coffees with some vanilla flavours thrown in and some muffins. The meeting members started to file in and things started to fall apart instantly.


Photo Credit: ilovecoffee.co.za

The first person to gaze upon the spread was this particularly snarky middle-aged woman who was looking at the individual coffee cups as if she had been presented an ancient Greek riddle. At that point, I knew there was going to be trouble. She took a cup and sat down across from me and took her first sip. She instantly furrowed her face in disgust and said “aaggh, what is this. It’s disgusting. What is this flavoured?”. The anxiety began to mount but it didn’t end there. “Why isn’t there a kettle? Why is it flavoured?” Mid-rant/inquisition another committee member entered the same nightmare meeting member began to alert people with “Don’t touch the coffee, it’s disgusting”.

My supervisor was so awesome, she began to make excuses for me and openly questioning how such a grave error could have been made on the part of the coffee shop. It was after all my second day. At that point, the out of town attendee; who was also the head of the committee, arrived complete with an anecdote about how awful the trip was from Ottawa. Before that she was immediately alerted “don’t touch the coffee, it’s flavoured.” It might as well have been poison.

The situation was so grave that the acting executive director was drafted to put on a full pot from the office coffee supply. Once the real coffee was set onto the snack table with mugs the morlock faces morphed back to human ones and the meeting began.

The meeting wasn’t entirely bad as a really nice young lady sat next to me and started telling me about her fasting for Ramadhaan, even though she was not yet Muslim but was very much interested in Islaam. We stuck to each other the whole meeting since we were the youngest people there and kinda clicked. It made the meeting go by faster since it was a bit of a snore at times since they only spoke in acronyms and I didn’t really quite know what was going on.

So as you can see, coffee is a very important career-skill particularly for the starry-eyed serf trying to climb the corporate ladder. At the time, the whole thing was really awful and horrible but to this day I look back on it and it still induces side-splitting laughter.

Have you had any coffee catastrophes on the job? We’d love to hear about them and have a laugh or two. Like, comment, follow & Share.

Mama FlavourFull


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