An Open Letter to Coffee

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Dear Coffee,

Um, hey. It’s me. Gosh – if you’re actually reading this, I don’t really know where to begin. Forgive me for being a little starstruck.

I don’t know if you know this, but you’re… kind of a big deal. I mean, to millions of office dwellers, you’re the only thing separating white-collar purgatory from white-collar hell. And beyond these cubicle walls, your cultural impact can’t really be overstated. Your presence is felt from the farthest reaches of gustatory enthusiasm (arguably one step shy of wine, in terms of popular mechanisms by which the snooty demonstrate their refinement) to the most accessible of pop-culture references.

(Is there anything more literally and figuratively accessible than a free web series in which Jerry Seinfeld, the professional everyman, shoots the shit with other comedians over a cup of coffee? And yeah, so what if that same series also features wildly expensive cars that are totally inaccessible to the vast majority? This is just some asshole’s blog, Coffee. The analogies aren’t always gonna be perfect.)

I’m sure you don’t have much time between appointments, though, so I’ll save the gushing celebration of your achievements for a later correspondence.

Today, I’m writing to ask for your mercy.

Now, before you get defensive and smite me out of primal instinct, let me explain what I’m getting at. (I’m sensitive to the possibility that, in your unquestioned omnipresence, you may not even be aware of the power you wield. After all, who would expect Justin Bieber to know that the moment he gets a new haircut, I risk the lives of hundreds of strangers in a maniacal haste to get to my stylist?)

Selfishly, my plea is focused on the condition of the white-collar minion. She who, by virtue of enslavement to your healing properties, becomes more zombie-like than the very “zombie” state she seeks to escape every morning. He who, in his caffeine-deficient lethargy, cannot so much as hold a conversation until your pep talk takes over his inner monologue.

Indeed, you are an unrelenting crutch.

And you know what? Your grip doesn’t end with physical dependence or the various daily – nay, hourly – manifestations thereof.  (The business-casual junkie spends the day trudging to and from his source of relief, clutching a travel mug as an apparent counterweight to otherwise miscalibrated balance. One wonders what would happen if you were to yank it from his grip… Infantile faceplant, I suspect.)

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is your ubiquity as a comedic crutch within these confines. Do you know how many office workers have never had to develop a proper sense of humor because of you? In place of witty banter: mind-numbing coffee-fueled platitudes. In place of legitimate self-deprecation: hackneyed allusions to caffeine addiction.

Who called this 9AM meeting? Better be bringing coffee!

He’s lucky I didn’t see that email before I had my morning fix!

What has two thumbs and needs a refill? This girl!

I don’t even need to detail the joyless, mechanical braying that invariably punctuates these outbursts (in the dead air that should otherwise be enlivened by laughter). Suffice it to say, it’s not pretty.

So I remind you of that which you need not be reminded: with great power comes great responsibility. And I ask for your grace in pausing to consider the impact that you have on these people. These meager, subjugated souls.

Were you to relax your grip by even the most modest of measures (think billionaire tycoon treating his secretary to lunch at Applebee’s), your legions of disoriented followers might gain the alertness to celebrate you as an agent of indulgence, rather than a bearer of pure necessity. They might rise, each morning, with a willingness to consider having a sentient thought before meeting with you.

They might laugh again.

So let them laugh, dear merciful Coffee . Let them feel unqualified joy.

Let them be free.

From White-Collar Purgatory, with love.

*****

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