Don’t Stick Your Neck Out

I just had an incredibly frustrating conversation.

A couple of us were talking about how we can save money and get better coffee in the office.

A win-win…. Or so we thought.

All the chatter lately has been about what one can do to streamline processes, save money… so we thought it would be a great opportunity to have this conversation. Running an office is expensive and we stopped getting decent fair trade beans ages ago because we were told it was “too expensive”.

Today, we found out the cost difference worked out to only $2 per pound (!) but the quality is night and day.

It sounds petty (yes) and incredibly silly (double yes) but the stuff we have at work is rancid. It basically curdles as you drink it and then it proceeds to eat through your stomach lining. Not a happy thing to be dealing with when you are already stressed.

People who have the money resort to going out for coffee. I can’t afford to do that so I drink the dreck with a packet of hot chocolate (to take away some of the sting), make iced coffee (the cold dulls the bitterness) or bring in my own coffee.

Our proposal was to bring in Vietnamese coffee which is very good and half the cost we are paying now. Someone was willing to go, on his own time, to pick up this coffee. And because he would buy in quantity, he could probably negotiate a better price. The argument was what happens if that person leaves- what would we do?

Uhhh…. We would reassess as needed?

Interestingly enough, earlier in the conversation she mentioned that she was thinking about going to Costco to pick up some beans. Did she not get that what she said contradicted her reasoning against someone else picking up coffee?


I don’t take anything in my coffee but it was also revealed to us how much we pay for the uber-pasterized, will live forever on your shelf “milk.” $4 per litre! That is insane! Even expensive milk in 2L cartons is cheaper. But the argument here is that “real” milk goes bad.

Uhhh…. You only buy as much as you will go through before it expires?

The second reason to pay through the nose for “milk” with an infinite shelf life is that we used to run out of real milk and then have to run to the grocery store because this always (apparently) happened right before a meeting.

Uhhh…. Keep the “forever milk” on stand-by if you run out of “real” milk?

The third reason to go with the hose-me-again-milk, is that people are less likely to drink or use it for cereal.

Really? You think switching to milk (that will be here long after we are all dead) has stopped the people from drinking a tall glass or having it with their Captain Crunch? Think again.

Apparently she already saves the company enough money and this doesn’t really add up to that much in savings so thanks for coming out, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I could have made a further argument. She may think that forcing people to go outside for coffee will save the company money but the real fact of the matter is that this is time that could be spent working. It sounds ball and chain but it is a valid consideration.

But think about it. It is not unusual for people to put in very long hours- time that is not paid for- but you will begrudge them a decent cup of coffee? These are people who don’t get cost of living adjustments, who are coming in on their own time but you would have them drink something that is only good enough for the compost bin?

I got a condescending thanks for your thoughts as I left her office. I mentioned this exchange to a friend and she wondered if there wasn’t something else going on that we don’t know about. Hmmmm…..

I should have known better than to try. I’ve been burned enough times to know better. I am sure this conversation will get me into some sort of trouble. She’ll find a way to twist our efforts to do something that would have been good for morale and save the company some coin into something selfish and naïve.

Yes, we were naïve to think the input the higher ups have been begging for would actually be welcome.

Stupid, stupid me.

This all sounds juvenile and ridiculous but wars have been waged for less.

I give up.

I am done.

I have to pick my battles and I choose to bring in my Bodum tomorrow.


~ by angryegg on July 16, 2009.

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