Friday, March 28, 2008

The Caffeine Crisis

In the 1970's, people queued for hours at gas stations all across the US just to get a few gallons of Regular to fuel their behemoth Chevys and Pontiacs and other pieces of Detroit Shit Steel.

In the 1980's, people queued for hours at shops all over the USSR just to get some lousy bread that was probably inedible anyway.

In the 1990's, people queued for hours in front of banks all over Argentina, trying to get their money out before the economy collapsed and English club kids swarmed the place for £1 hits of ecstasy.

Now, in the 2000's, France is facing a crisis: There is no coffee.

Ok, maybe not all of France. Maybe it's just in my vicinity.

I was out of coffee this morning. Few people can replicate the look of horror and sinking feeling deep within when I opened the can in which I keep my bag of Lavazza espresso. Like the bread incident the other week, I couldn't fathom what my morning would be like without coffee.

Luckily, I had the remainder of the 1.5L bottle of Pepsi from last weekend's ill-advised KFC mission, and I chugged that before making my way to the Métro station.

"I will survive," I thought. "I'll just double up on my morning coffee dosage at the office!"

For the last month, I've been dosing myself almost every hour with an unremarkable yet effective 30-cent instant espresso from the coffee/tea/cocoa vending machine in our break room. The coffee's not great by any means, but it sure beats falling asleep at my desk. And this morning I'd be counting on it that much more.

Lo and behold, the vending machine is no more.

Pony up the 80 cents for a can of soda? Nope. That machine's a goner, too.

It turns out our contract through the vending machine company ran out yesterday, and we're supposed to get all new machines on Monday. That's all fine and dandy, but it's three days from Monday, and I spent all of last night watching NCAA basketball. My eyes look as puffy and misshapen as Hillary Clinton's jowly cheeks, and dark as Dick Cheney's soul. I'm a bit sleepy, a bit irate, and not having had anything since I left the house this morning, my mouth tastes like a combo of Listerine (cool mint), toothpaste, and Pepsi.

As for all those wonderful Parisian sidewalk cafes serving up hot little demitasses of espresso day-in, day-out? Oh, they're there. But I'm in f'ing Clichy.

Espressos are 39 cents at the cantine. But they won't be open 'til noon. That's over an hour from now. Consider this my final transmission.

Update 11:34AM: Catastrophe Averted

Management has put out carafes of extra-super-strong coffee in the break room. The infusion into my bloodstream has begun.

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