There is a major problem with office workers.
How the hell they expect someone to survive in an office environment with crap instant coffee is utterly beyond me.
This was the predicament I found myself in recently, when I had two days work experience at my local paper. Now this post is in no way to be considered poor reflection on those fine wordsmiths at the Greenock Telegraph – which, in case you hadn’t heard, is in fact the finest local newspaper in the West Coast of Scotland – no, in the whole of Scotland! (and if that isn’t a claim worthy of the Sun then I don’t know what is) It is merely meant to reflect my utter admiration for people who work under stressful conditions – without super quality caffeine on an IV.
When I began my two days I knew roughly what to expect since I had spent some time there before. I felt prepared.
So this time, when I walked through those double doors at 9:30, I did not feel such an amateur. I slid in front of my very own computer booth, tapped in my personal log-in and snapped on my secretary-come-secret agent headset. Reporters notepad on desk, pen in front pocket and handbag stocked with reporter-like things tucked at my side, ready to be grabbed at the click of my editors fingers.
Everything was going well as I spent the morning fashioning nibs from local ads (what we in the industry call those little fillers at the side of the page that tell you of local events and whatnot). It was only when my trust-me-I’m-a-journalist shirt began to feel just a little chilly, that I noticed the other warning signs. The thirst. The headache. The tightening around the eyes that seemed to spread to my jaw. Eventually using a slightly shaking hand to straighten my short-in-a-sexy-yet-sensible-way skirt I had to admit it – it was coffee time!
10:30am. Damn it. I had hoped to make it til at least 11 before I let the caffeine get the better of me but hey, strong coffee is a mark of a true journalist, right?
But when I get to the tea room, I was a little… disheartened. Not so much disappointed, that would be too much. But my heart swelled a little at the sight before me, and not in that joyful way it sometimes does, more in that way that tells you something awful has happened but that your too pumped with adrenaline to appreciate it.
There was coffee, sure. And it was instant, which is fine, more than fine, it’s great. But it was the second most intolerable instant coffee known to man. It was that dreaded fiend, Tescos own brand. Not even one of the decent ones that tasted just like the good stuff but a slightly more aerated colour in a different jar. It was that rubbish that takes two spoonfuls to have a taste, two more to just about bear some morose resemblance to coffee. And the worst part – it was decaf! I know, I felt it too; the horror. I mean for goodness sake, why even bother drinking something characterised by its potentially heart disease creating key ingredient in favour of a version which might boost you concentration a tiny bit more but has only been so far proven to do in mice!? I can think of other kinds of murky water that could well have the same effect and probably taste about the same!
This sad scene put something of a dampener on my morning, but I was not prepared to let it beat me; so I had three more before noon and by then, things began to look significantly brighter.
I have nothing against the humble instant coffee; I drink cups of the sweet brown nectar everyday (black, two sugars, if you’re interested), and I did feel so suave and journalisty sitting in front of my pile of half read dailys, shorthand notes and copy print-outs. The steaming mug to my right was the perfect addition to my completed look; keen young reporter at work, disturb and face her cutting wit. Even the glasses perched half way off the end of my nose since I wouldn’t see the computer screen from the ridiculous distance it was stationed away from me made me appear somehow like I fitted my situation. (whoever sat at that desk before me must have been the most long-sighted fellow ever to have lived, by the way, and I think they superglued that tower to the flippin’ desk because for all my efforts, it would not move closer)
But be serious. I am only 19 years old and while yes, I may have acquired an unhealthy addiction to strong coffee at a young age, the rest of the people in that office were there every day. Drinking that stuff.
I knew I would be flagging after two days of that. My means of remedying a potentially embarrassing situation?
I brought my coffee, thank-you very much.
That’s right, in a sandwich bag. I brought enough of my favourite from home to last me the day and low and behold, my two days ended marvelously. I had a couple of pieces submitted for the paper for the rest of the week and went on my merry way, even with the promise of future days work to come.
So, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to take this opportunity to impart these words of simple wisdom to you: If you work in an environment where concentration is key, make sure you are well stocked in whatever you need. Be that cigarettes for the nicotine addicts out there; biscuits and bananas for the diabetics, as I can only assume Eric, who had the desk next to me must have been since for all the time I was there the man never stopped snacking yet was not fat; or in my case, decent coffee. Make sure you have what you need and it will give you the confidence and the focus to enjoy the experience more.
See you in the headlines!!