Thursday, March 30, 2006

Changing the world, one glorious cup of coffee at a time

My job is not glamorous, it doesn't pay that well, but it is a job. For that I am grateful. This job has really been my first job outside of the medical community. I have worked in doctor's offices and hospitals for years and years and felt extremely comfortable there. I wondered why that was.

Then, as I began the Spring Cleaning of the office where I work ( because there is nothing to do... feast or famine and it's famine right now.... and because I work with 9 men who don't really clean up after themselves or bother to put most things away....) I realized I liked working in the medical setting because I felt I was helping people. I was making a difference in some small way. As a phlebotomist I took people's blood. They, at times, were not particularly happy about it, but if it helped them find out what was wrong, or why they were sick, then, that was a good thing.

But here, I don't really feel that i make a difference. I am an administrative assistant ( though it should be executive assistant). I work at a think tank that is a "privately funded, NGO" but I pretty much found out yesterday that the NGO part is BS, ( this isn't relelvant, I'm just adding volume here.....) Anyway we do research, create policy, and try to educate the public about it. I hope that what we do is helpful to someone. I would assume that increasing security technology at ports, subways, and at airports, etc. will help us all at some point. Or, that if enough commercial trucking companies will switch over to Dimethyl ether powered trucks, the environment will be saved and instances of regional lung cancer will decrease..... but I don't see the results of these things. I see no improvement in the world around me as a result of my work.

Except in one thing. The coffee room. We have a small kitchen in the office. There's a big conference table in it and my co-workers dump things there, or leave things there, or make a mess with their coffee there. There are huge boxes of styrofoam cups and 3 i don't know how old boxes of domino sugar packets... but I had the boss buy me a shelf, set it up and went to work cleaning the kitchen.

It is a beautiful, sparkling clean room now. I arranged all the coffee stuff and the tea etc. neatly in this shelf. I cleaned off the table. It looks great. Everyone here at work was amazed and thanked me profoudly. They were so excited about how easy and nice it would be for them to make their coffee now.

So- my contribution to the world is not healing, it is not even really researching or planning good conferences. My contribution to the world is making it easier for the coffee addicts around me to get their coffee. Am I gonna get ex-communicated for this? I hope not.


At 3/30/2006 05:44:00 PM,

Don't worry, Catherine. You're not the only enabler out there. Today I made not one, not two, but THREE trips to Caribou Coffee to pick up what I can only describe as a gallon-size box of coffee with a plastic spiket. And of course, two cups of milk.

And here's my job-related secret shame: For some reason, in my job I find a ridiculous amount of joy in a well-made binder. You know, where the tabs all line up nicely and the label is pretty? I LOVE it. I'd like to think some other law firm employees out there can relate---but probably not...

So much for making a difference, right? Maybe we should both go apply at an old folks home or something.

At 3/30/2006 09:49:00 PM,

I don't think you should worry too much about excommunication with all of those bishops and stake presidents who grow a primary crop of barley. I suppose that there are some church approved uses of barley, but I think most of it goes to beer.

Not that vigorously training to be a blood sucking lawyer gives me any right to poke fun of someone else's career decisions!

At 4/01/2006 09:12:00 AM,

barley is used for vegetable beef soup. you know, those tiny little "barley pearls"..

At 4/03/2006 08:31:00 PM,

Your frustration resonated deeply, Catherine! When I was seventeen, my idealistic teenage soul wanted to make a real difference in the community. I volunteered for a food services program in Salt Lake City that provided breakfast to homeless people in Salt Lake City on Sunday mornings under a freeway overpass. I came home after my first day on the job in tears. My mom thought someone had hurt or threatened me. But no. I was upset because my job each week would be to make and serve coffee. Coffee?! There had to be a better way to make a difference! I knew there had to some nutritious alternative…

The next week I showed up with my pockets full of quarters (probably not the safest thing to do) and offered a quarter to everyone who drank the milk instead of coffee. Eventually the group supervisor caught onto my plan and threatened to fire me from my volunteer position. All the other volunteers and patrons thought it was funny, and it served to be a good ice breaker to some great friendships. Needless to say, they switched my position from coffee maker to egg scrambler and propane mover. To this day, the smell of coffee brings back memories of good friends and good times.

Maybe you should bring in some hot cocoa mix! At my last job, all the cool people stood around the coffee maker in the morning and talked while drinking their morning java. I so wanted to be cool like them, but didn’t know how. Then one Sunday my sister and I found a ton of hot cocoa mix in the food storage room. I took some to work the next morning and nervously made my way over to the cool crowd. Sure, I got some weird looks, but once I whipped out a bag of oversized marshmallows things were just great.

At 4/04/2006 10:38:00 AM,

I am so glad to hear that I am not the only "enabler" out there :)

I also appreciate your story Micah because I am in charge of actually making the coffee every morning as well... it's a little disconcerting because I used to hate the smell of coffee and now it has kind of grown on me.... :)
However, I do have my own stash of hot chocolate complete with marshmallows :) It's a great idea!!

And here is my newest complaint- my company had a $10,000+ surplus this year that we needed to spend by the end of March. Instead of dividing it up as bonuses or having a work party, you know what they spent most of it on????? COFFEE and COKE!!!!!!!!! All you caffeine addicts feel free to come here during finals. There's NO SHORTAGE here!!!!




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