Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Before I relate the story I want to tell this morning, I would like to take this moment to say how proud I am of myself. Each time I strike a set at Hunger Artists, I end up feeling a little bit more like my dad. I did the usual cleaning and painting that I always do, but this time I measured, marked and - without the aid of gloves or safety goggles - cut pieces of wood using a circular saw. I know the old man would be proud. Now I just need to learn how to make the secret family spaghetti sauce.

Anyway, on to The Great Water Cooler Debate! It is, of course, a cliche for office employees to talk around the water cooler. But at my work, one of the hot topics IS the water cooler. In an attempt for our office to "get with the times", they are testing out a new water cooler. Our previous water cooler was of the large bottle variety, which of course requires the constant purchase of new bottles, not to mention the changing of said bottles.

Unbeknownst to many, the changing of the water bottle is a test. A test of one's strength and precision. For after taking the top off of the large bottle, it must be turned over, and the nozzle end of the bottle must be placed within the hole at the top of the cooler, much in the way that you would see in the refueling of an airplane or in a sex ed video in health class. The only trick is to do this all within the course of half a second, since you only have momentum keeping the water from spilling on your "Nightmare Before Christmas" tie.

So, in an attempt to relieve the tension that comes to whoever is bestowed this task, the office purchased a new water cooler that simply connects to the building's water supply, and simply filters it using what they say is a revolutionary ultraviolet purification system. The only problem is...it still tastes like tap water. If this cooler is supposed to sell us on the idea that the same technology used to turn human skin brown is just as effective in eliminating chemicals from our water, it failed.

Well, on top of the cooler is a sheet of paper with two columns: "Good Idea" and "Bad Idea". We have been encouraged to check the column that we feel best represents our thoughts about the new cooler, and have been assured that comments are welcome. So, to get the ball rolling, I checked both sides, just so that no one would have to be scared of being the first.

Later that day, there were three other checkmarks on "Bad Idea", and one of them was accompanied by the message, "There's an aftertaste". So, to make the debate more even, I put another checkmark under "Good Idea" and wrote next to it, "YOU'RE an aftertaste!" The debate was on.

More checkmarks and more comments have been added, with "Bad Idea" getting twice as many votes. And all the time, I've been invisibly helping to fuel the debate, checking both sides and offering comments like "Ewww" and "I can't tell the difference". My favorite moment came when someone wrote "Tastes like well water". Then someone wrote under that "Tastes like tap water". Then someone else wrote under that "Tastes like chicken". So I wrote under that "Smells like Teen Spirit".

Normally, when it comes to the petty subjects that my co-workers are obsessed with (the Michael Jackson trial, the new Pope, what that one girl was wearing), I get livid. However, here I am joining in the banal discussions.

I think the reason for this is my sympathy for the water cooler. It lives its life serving a vital purpose, giving freely without any sort of reward. And yet, it spends its days listening to shirt-and-tie'd yuppies prattle on about Star Wars, weight training routines and the latest reality television episodes. But finally, the water cooler is now the central topic of the Water Cooler Chat. So I want to get the most out of it. Now that people have had the more advance but less fulfilling cooler, they now realize the wonderful things that our Yosemite Water cooler does for our office.

So congratulations, water cooler. Welcome to the world of mainstream conversational topics. You can take a seat right next to Robert Blake and Jamie Foxx.

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