Off to a bad start

Melissa Stagnaro

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed in the morning. Today is shaping out to be one of those days.

In retrospect, it’s clear that I failed to recognize the early signs which, if I’d been paying more attention, were a clear indication of the day’s southerly inclinations. Beginning with the cruel twist of fate which lead me to turn off my alarm entirely rather than hit snooze as I intended.

This would be considered an inauspicious start to any day, but since I still had ample time to get ready for work, I didn’t see it for what it was: a portent of the universe’s alignment against me.

I was further lulled into a false sense of security when all the pieces of my early morning routine went off without a hitch. That included three stops on my way to work – starting at BlueOx in Oxford to get the papers, and then swinging by both the Norwich State Police barracks and the Norwich City Police station to pick up the respective blotters. Some mornings, depending on the timing, these pit stops can eat up an extra 25 minutes or more, but today, it was smooth sailing and I was still at work before 7.

It really wasn’t until 7:30 that the day really started going off the rails. That was when I took the first sip of my coffee. And nearly spit it out on my keyboard.

Now, most mornings, brewing the daily pot of coffee is a responsibility which falls on my shoulders. But it’s a duty which I’ve been trying to pass on – or at least share – with the newest addition to the ES staff, Julian Kappel.

This morning, like most, I was one of the first in the newsroom. And, as is my norm, I flipped the coffee pot on upon my arrival and turned my attention to work-related tasks while I waited for the ‘brew’ light to illuminate. This little light indicates the machine’s readiness to brew the live-giving, caffeinated elixir I find it difficult to commence my day without. I have found the time it takes for the light to come on is directly proportional to how badly I need that first cup of coffee.

For example, when I am most desperate for caffeine, it takes about an hour. Already had a cup on my way in? The little bugger is on in less than 30 seconds.

This morning, I was able to not only check my email and make my daily to-do list, but also type up the entire blotter before the ‘brew’ light lit up. By that time full-on caffeine deprivation had set in and I made my way back to the kitchen in a stupor.

As I pulled out the little basket where the filter goes, I was thrilled to find it all ready to go. Naively believing Julian had done the grunt work of placing a new filter and filling it with coffee grounds, I simply added the requisite amount of water and waited, ahem, patiently for the pot to brew.

Little did I know, he actually prepped it the day before, planning to brew a double strength pot to get him through the doldrums of late afternoon.

In my desperation for caffeine, I hadn’t even bothered to turn the light on in the newsroom’s kitchen and was therefore blissfully unaware that the substance which I had inadvertently poured into my favorite mug was the color and consistency of a peat bog. Until, of course, I brought the cup to my lips and took a long draught.

On a normal day, the coffee here is pretty horrifying. But at double strength? It’s toxic.

The incident was more than a little traumatic. After all, it’s not every day one of your co-worker’s tries to poison you.

But I pulled myself together and turned my attention back to the task at hand, which was trying to get some details for a story I was working on.

Unfortunately, my initial attempt to gather information was not what I’d call successful. See, the person I was trying to get said information from apparently thought our conversation was over. Despite the fact that I was still talking.

Okay, fine. They hung up on me. But I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here. (Mind you, it wasn’t even 8 a.m. at this point.)

I resisted the urge to both (a) curl up in a whimpering ball under my desk and/or (b) call the person back and give them a verbal bitch-slap.


Instead, I took the responsible approach. Which involved popping a Midol, which I washed it down with a swig of the vile swill from the once-favorite mug and got on with my day.

Because that’s what you do when your day gets off to a bad start. You don’t crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head. You get on with it.

Happy Wednesday!

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