Long ago, I diagnosed my parents with this short-term paranoia condition that began with and finds its fuel in what I call the Coffeepot Fear. It’s not the first issue that they’ve acquired in their old(er) age. They’ve got more Walgreens reading glasses lying around the house than a squirrel has acorns as the foot of a Maple come snowfall. Crossword puzzles sit unfinished, bills stack up without pay, receipts are never found, and newspapers stay in those tubular plastic bags when the litany of dollar-fifty reading glasses sit under couch cushions, in car cup holders, and in those tubular plastic bags with unread newspapers. The status of the glasses is usually lost and the eyes of my dear parents, usually blind. Sure, everybody’s got their issues. Ya can’t see, can’t hear, can’t remember a thing, can’t reach the gas pedal on you minivan. But the Coffeepot Fear has always intrigued me.
It goes a little something like this: everything’s going as it should be until you realize that you should have left five minutes ago for wherever you’re going. Then the race begins. A whirling mess of untied shoes and unbuttoned shirttails hurries through a final inspection of the house, turning off appliances, flipping light switches this way and that, grabbing the cup of coffee from the microwave, letting the dog out (or back in), and finally landing in the car that’s backing out of the driveway to the rumbling and creaking of a closing garage door.
Twenty minutes or so down the road, my parents have grown accustomed to the white-knuckling fear that comes flying out of nowhere. Did I turn off the coffeepot? I can understand how it may have slipped by, what with all the whirling and tumbling that preceded leaving. But this one is a lingering fear that retraces every footstep trying to convince with certainty that the chances of returning to a pile of ash on account of a cup of coffee are unlikely.
Well, I always thought the Coffeepot Fear was crazy. Seemed like such an insane and useless fear. I’d advocate a bit of relaxation because I figure chances are, the thing that needed to get done – whether it was coffee or taxes or brushing your teeth – probably got done one way or another. But today, on only my fourth day at the office, I might be switch-hitting on my view of the Coffeepot Fear because I felt it and it was horrible.
I never thought I was cut out for an office job, but my current internship takes me there – right into my very own cubicle in the missions department of The Navigators. I’ll shoot straight with ya, I don’t have the first clue as to how to manage an office or my time in it, so I started out by using post-it notes. I soon find out that this is probably the worst idea possible for the sake of my sanity. The post-it notes are trying to haunt me. They’re giving me Coffeepot Fear. Did I remember to tell Chase about the PDF converter? Did I email that password to accounting? Where did I put that list for Wal-Mart? I’m ashamed to say that all this was tumbling and whirling in my head at ten o’clock at night, when I should have been thinking 10 parts sleeping and zero parts cubicle.
Turns out, I can’t blame everything on old age. Maybe my parents are still sane. Or maybe I’m just joining them on the other side of crazy.