Coffee Break

The latest work woes from fictional rep George Blaumquist. It was just another market day, a day not unlike hundreds of others with the market indexes pressing forward promising higher values, ensuring broader smiles on clients' faces. Normally George Blaumquist would be exuding optimism, but not today. George's view was gloomy. Mr. Blaumquist, please pick up line one. It's Mr. Iversen. Thanks, Pamela.

The latest work woes from fictional rep George Blaumquist.

It was just another market day, a day not unlike hundreds of others with the market indexes pressing forward promising higher values, ensuring broader smiles on clients' faces.

Normally George Blaumquist would be exuding optimism, but not today. George's view was gloomy.

“Mr. Blaumquist, please pick up line one. It's Mr. Iversen.”

“Thanks, Pamela.

“Hello, Tom. What's up?”

“Hey, didya check the bid on American … ?”

“Tom, pardon me, but do you realize where I've just been?”

“What do I get if I guess right?”

“The employee lunchroom.”

“I'm getting the employee lunchroom?”

“No. That's where I've been! Guess what I found in there?”

“Lemme see. Employees having lunch?”

“Wrong. I found a coffee machine, but no coffee!”

“Whoa! I believe for a coffee machine to be a coffee machine, it must be able to serve coffee, George!”

“My sentiments exactly!”

“So where's your … ?”

“Tom, do you have any idea how important to my daily routine that first cup of coffee is?”

“Yeah! So where's your coffee, George?”

“And I'm not just speaking for myself, but for all the other poor devils working here who need that first cup of coffee just to, you know, get going!”

“Blaumquist, am I going too fast? Where is your coffee?”

“I would venture a guess that it's still on a shelf at Hal's Supermarket under a sign that reads: Coffee.”

“Who's responsible for getting the coffee from Hal's to your machine?”

“A person who left our employ last week.”

“Ah! Maybe you should send him or her a coffee-gram.”

“This is obviously a source of great amusement for you, isn't it, Iversen?”

“No way! Hey, I depend on at least one cup to start my day, too. Heck, if your office wasn't so far away, I'd run some spare coffee over to you.”

“Do you have any spare coffee?”

“Actually no. But if we did …”

“That's what I thought.”

“Hey, Blaumquist, you've been to a grocery store before. Drag your body to your car and get some coffee for the troops.”

“I think we have to go through a supplier.”

“Forget the supplier! By the time he comes through, your office will be in chaos, and we'll have to call in coffee counselors!”

“Actually, things are starting to unravel. Somebody said the branch manager has locked himself in the supply room with his cell phone.”

First Attempt

George departs for Hal's Supermarket and returns less than an hour later to the lunchroom with a 5-pound can of mountain roast. Audrey, the office administrator is waiting.

“Mr. Blaumquist, is that coffee you're carrying?”

“Yes, Audrey. Now tell me, how do we get this machine started?”

“It's simple. Just get out a filter paper …”

“Filter paper? Where are the filter papers?”

“They used to be in that top drawer, Mr. Blaumquist.”

Second Try

George's return trip to Hal's for filter papers is accomplished at a faster speed than the first trip, now that he is acquainted with the route. Audrey, again, is waiting for him upon his return.

“That's wonderful Mr. Blaumquist! Everyone is going to be so grateful that you went out of your way for their coffee.”

“No problem, Audrey. Someone just has to take the bull by the horns in situations such as these.”

“You're right, Mr. Blaumquist. By the way, did I mention that we are also out of paper cups?”

Third Time's a Charm

George does not escape notice. The tall blond checkout gal acknowledges him with a warm smile.

“This place is starting to grow on ya, huh?”

“Paper cups?” Blaumquist inquires, resisting the congeniality.

“That would be Aisle 2, about halfway down. And you can call me Rhonda.”

“Thanks, Rhonda.”

George collects several dozen paper cups and returns to the checkout stand.

“Will that be all, sir?”

“This isn't what I do for a living, ya know.”

“Would you like to sign up for our big drawing?”

“Big drawing?”

“We're having a drawing for a big screen TV next weekend! All you have to do is drop your receipts in that box over there with your phone number.”

“OK, I'll try my luck. But please, just ring up the cups ’cause I'm kinda in a hurry.”

“Whatever you say, sir.”

“Thanks.”

“We're also having a special on frozen pizzas, Aisle 6, if you're interested.”

George Blaumquist returns to the office with cups in hand and no frozen pizzas. The paper cups disappear within 10 minutes as people arrive for their caffeine fix. The tone of the office is subdued as the brew works its magic on the frayed nerves of the brokerage staff.

“Mr. Blaumquist?”

“Yes, Audrey.”

“You didn't happen to pick up any stirring sticks for our coffee did you?”

“No, Audrey. I didn't.”

“Well, it's OK, we're almost out of cream anyway.”

“I can't go back to Hal's again today, Audrey.”

“Why is that, sir?”

“Because if I spend anymore time there I'm either going to have to join the grocery workers union or buy a frozen pizza.”

“Oh, of course, I forgot that you've given up a good share of your morning just to replenish our coffee supply.”

“It was no trouble, really.”

“Mr. Blaumquist, I hesitate to tell you this, but you'll be amused, I'm sure, to learn that we just found extra coffee supplies stored in places we never thought to look.”

“Really.”

“Yes, sir. If it's any consolation, you can take home the coffee you bought today since it seems the office staff prefers our regular brand.”

“A large screen TV would look awfully good right now.”


Bill Roth is a rep with Salomon Smith Barney in Palo Alto, Calif.

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