The conflict will be long and black.

There’s a war brewing in my workplace kitchen. Lines have been drawn, shots have been fired but this powder keg has yet to blow.

Let’s start with a run down of how coffee works in our kitchen. There’s a Zojirushi brew dispenser that runs on goodwill. Whenever it’s empty, someone will stock a filter with grinds and put a fresh pot on. Some people are pretty militant when it comes to ensuring there’s a steady supply (including one gal who seems to put brews on as late as 3pm. I bet she fucking hates sleep). The grinds are kept in an easily accessible drawer. It’s a simple system that has worked for the entirety of my employment here. There’s also a good espresso machine upstairs that can make all manner of drinks, but seems to break down every week. Plus for some reason they don’t trust us to pour beans into the hopper. Clearly they think we’re children. So the kitchen coffee is a last resort, but also a free last resort, so being choosy is a bit rich.

This harmonic balance shifted last week. A black circular Swiss Chalet takeaway container appeared behind the Zojirushi. Filled to the brim with grinds, it was an invitation, if anything.

[As an aside, the kitchen is a place of communal sharing. If food appears in the kitchen that means it’s up for grabs 99% of the time. Today there was a bag of bagels and a plate of sultana cookies. Further proof that kitchens are where the magic happens and sharing is caring.]

Except it wasn’t. Looming on the wall behind the plastic tray was a sign that o’erleapt passive aggressiveness and adopted all caps for that classic straight for the jugular (heh, Jug-ular. Because we’re talking about coffee) approach:

“NOT YOUR GRINDS. HANDS OFF. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH.”

Baffled, befuddled, perplexed, bemused. Whatever you want to call it, everyone who passed through the kitchen felt it. There was a disarming paradigm shift. I was a glob of saliva away from a literal spit take, but as metaphorical as my reaction was I still physically twitched. I asked around for any insight, but nobody had any ideas. It didn’t make any sense. My mind flooded with questions:

  • How were they using these grinds? Was it a small French press batch? Were they adding raw grinds to their already brewed cup for extra intensity?
  • Did they own the grinds or had they been taking ownership of communal stocks?
  • If it was their own supply, why were they leaving them out in the open where anyone could get to them?
  • Even if it wasn’t, if they were being selfish already wouldn’t flat out stealing the grinds be their best course of action?
  • In any case, why was it exposed to the open air? Wouldn’t that ruin the grinds?
  • Was this some strange social experiment to get a litmus test of kitchen attitudes?
  • Is the next season of Big Brother actually an Eldritch office reality TV show where the employees are slowly driven to madness by socially uncouth demonic machinations?

That was a week ago. Because the office is naturally a place of shit-stirrers, several signs appeared alongside the grinds. A small bag with a corner cut off read “I did things to your grinds…” Another sign claimed “COMPANY PROPERTY. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE FROM THE BUILDING.” Here I am wishing that I had the Photoshop skills to do a Lucky Charms leprechaun edit, but I’m a total pleb when it comes to visual editing. Those tricks are for kids, anyway. I asked our big boss. She suggested the only response was to escalate and shame the grindee into coming clean or disappearing. That’s the kind of marketing I can get behind.

Time to sharpen those knives.

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