Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The reason why I am not allowed to make coffee at home anymore

For the best cup of coffee you've ever tasted, it's essential that you use a french press. Freshly brewed coffee made in a press tastes far better than that made with the drip method that is predominately used today in homes and restaurants.

Unfortunately, it's also far messier than the drip method.

At least it is for me.

Even in the best of circumstances, I'm using the sleeve of my bathrobe to wipe small congregations of runaway grounds down the sink.

And a week ago Saturday was far, far from being the best of circumstances.

Carrie was still in bed and I had coffee duty. I grind coffee, boil water, pour into press, and set the timer on the stove to four minutes to allow the coffee to steep. Other than a stray coffee ground or two on the counter, I'm doing alright.

Then the timer goes off, I go to plunge, and all coffee hell breaks loose. It takes me a second or two to realize what had happened. All I know is that one second, I was pressing down on the plunger (okay, I'll admit it, maybe, just maybe, the plunger wasn't going down easy and I just might have, perhaps, forced it just a wee bit too hard) and the next second I am staring at a shattered french press that is empty of hot water and soggy coffee grounds. The second after that, I begin to realize that while the hot, soggy coffee grounds are no longer in what was once the french press, they are in pretty much every other conceivable location in the kitchen. Down the front of the cabinets below me, dripping from the cabinets above me, on the kitchen table, on the floor, in the spice rack, blender, and food processor, in the sink (that part was kind of okay), on my T-shirt, on the front of my pajamas, God knows how but even on the back of my pajamas, on the coffee pot I wasn't even using (if I had only been less ambitious and stuck to the autodrip, this would have never happened), on the refrigerator. You really have no idea just how many coffee grounds it takes to make a pot of coffee until they are covering your entire kitchen.

At this point, I'm pretty sure I yell Shit! or Crap! or some variation. Carrie asks what's wrong.


"It sounds like something"

"I'm taking care of it"

"Taking care of what?"

I stomp into the bedroom, covered in coffee grounds, clutching a wadded up ball of about six paper towels that I managed to wipe up a very small amount of soggy coffee grounds with.

"Goddamn french press exploded," I explain.

"How did that happen?"

"I don't mumble, mumble, grumble. I can clean it up!"

Carrie gets out of bed and commandeers the paper towels and the cleaning operation.

"I can clean it up!" I pout.

"If you clean it up, we'll be finding coffee grounds all over the kitchen for the next three months."

"I can clean it up!" I stomp.

"Sit down somewhere away from the coffee grounds and eat your bagel."

"I can clean it up," I whimper.

Two hours later, the kitchen is clean, and by the tail end of the operation, I'm even allowed to take over some cleaning duties, such as washing all the pots and pans that a large contingent of coffee grounds were able to locate even though the pots and pans were inside the kitchen cabinets.

Then I went to Dunkin' Donuts (which, in retrospect, like using the autodrip coffee maker, would have been a much less painless first option for making coffee)after being told that I was no longer allowed to make coffee at home.

Which is really not much of a problem, considering the french press is broken. Though, I tell you, the french press does make a tasty cup of coffee.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Paperboy, Version 2.0

Let's begin at the end of my days as a paperboy, version 2.0. I am across the street from the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, the back of my 1996 Hyundai Elantra filled with stacks of the Brookline Tab. I am attempting to pull out onto the street, but my car is bucking and can't get out of first gear...

No, let's begin even after that, after my car has been at the Aamco Transmission Shop on the Lynnway for a week (actually, the second time my car had been there, the first time the car was out of commission for over a month, an all-around horrendous situation that even I don't think I could make seem funny) when I get the call asking me what they want me to do with the 500 copies of the Brookline Tab in the back of my car. After they dumped all the papers in their dumpster (so if you didn't get your copy of the Brookline Tab one week in the fall of 2000, I apologize) they tell me my car rose about a foot higher off the ground.

"Could carting all of those papers around screwed up my transmission?" I asked.

I am told that the Hyundai Elantra probably isn't the best vehicle to use to make frequent stops while carting around hundreds of pounds of cargo in my back seat. And thus ended my second, and to date, last hitch as a newspaper delivery boy.

But how did I end up delivering the Brookline Tab door to door on Thursday mornings in the first place? If you've read the first part of the story, I'm sure you'll figure it out - working for a newspaper, low pay, looking for a second job to make a couple of extra bucks, etc.

So at the time, I'm writing for another newspaper in the Brookline Tab chain when I inquire about the possibility of delivering newspapers to make an extra buck. Sure thing, I'm told by the head of distribution, come on down to the main office in Needham and we'll see what we've got.

So I get down to Needham at 6 a.m. on a Thursday morning and find out that I can have a route delivering about 500 tabs in Brookline. I get a map and a clipboard with the addresses of all the customers and I start loading up stacks of papers in the back seat and trunk of the aforementioned Elantra.

"There's only one problem," the distribution guy tells me. "Technically, you're not allowed to hold two jobs in the company. But are you married or do you have a girlfriend. If you just get me her social security number, we can put it under her name."

So okay, not much of a problem, but if the IRS ever mentions it, be sure to tell them that my wife delivered the Brookline Tab.

After clearing up the legal mumbo jumbo and finishing loading up my car with papers (slowing leading to the death of my transmission) I am off on my first morning of delivering the Tab. Distribution guy tells me it should take about an hour, hour-and-a-half to finish up my route.

Distribution guy is full of shit.

I get into Coolidge Corner around 6:30. Shortly before noon, I have tossed the remaining dozen papers in the general vicinity of some door steps of an elderly housing complex where the senior citizens may or may not subscribe to the Brookline Tab. After a few weeks, I am able to pare about an hour off the total delivery time. And in good weather, I don't even mind taking most of the morning to slowly cruise/stroll around Brookline.

But during crappy weather, not so much fun. From the purely technical newspaper delivery side of things, every paper has to be put in a plastic bag, further slowing down my already pathetic delivery time. On the personal side, I could get soaking wet. One Thursday morning. I get caught delivering the paper in a tropical storm. Now, I don't think I've owned a raincoat since I was seven-years-old, and trust me, I am not coordinated enough to handle a clipboard, stuff a newspaper in a plastic bag, and hold an umbrella, even if I had managed to remember to bring an umbrella with me. So I am caught in a tropical downpour, sticking newspapers in plastic bags until nearly 1 p.m., wearing jeans and a sweatshirt - jeans and a sweatshirt that were totally soaked through by 7 a.m. I start hallucinating, forgetting what street I am on. I go down one street I am convinced I have not gone down yet, and there are already Brookline Tabs on all the front porches. I call distribution guy and leave a babbling message about how someone else must be out there delivering the Tab along my route. About three hours later, I realize that I had already been down the street and that there was no phantom rival paperboy trying to take my job. I am wet and miserable and feel like I am going down on the Pequod with only the September 23 issue of the Brookline Tab with which to spear the Great White Whale.

And still, I come back the next week for more, until my car bucks, and won't go into reverse, and, well, at this point, I think you know the rest.