Ah working life, how much I love you. And I’m not joking – I wouldn’t want to go back to being a student. I genuinely don’t know how I survived without earning money during term time. And I was so terrified of having no money that I didn’t spend my student loan on anything other than the occasional signed book. So really vital, necessary stuff. But working in an actual office with actual other people has its own pitfalls, namely the tea/coffee/random beverage run. I don’t make tea/coffee/random beverages for anyone, including myself and I won’t go and fetch you your tea/coffee/random beverage. But this apparently is the done thing.
There are two reasons why I don’t want to do this. Number 1 – I don’t want to do this. Number 2 – I can’t make coffee. I also can barely make tea. I am not a drinker of either and even though I am Indian I have made chai for my parents a total of three times in my whole life. And by parents I mean my dad – my mum’s not a drinker either. My parents never taught me this important life lesson so I have spent my whole life thinking it’s not all that important – after all it’s not like people will ever want me to make them coffee or tea will they? They’ll do it themselves. Oh naïve, naïve me.
The first proper job I had was a steep learning curve. As part of a close team I was supposed to do this for everyone. I was supposed to enjoy this time away from my desk. But I didn’t. I have since left that team but I know certain people found this shocking. It’s not as if I started out making the coffees and then suddenly stopped and it’s not as if I got them to make me hot drinks but didn’t return the favour. I neither did it nor asked anyone else to do it.
It took a while for people to accept that. But they eventually did. Then came the day when my boss asked me to wash his mug out for him. He was running late you see and needed to catch the train. I said no. He didn’t believe me and left his mug out on the desk thinking I was joking. I wasn’t joking and didn’t touch the mug. That night it was stolen. I regretted (and still regret) nothing and he never asked me again. I did not want to become that person.
In my work place it didn’t have anything to do with me being a woman it was just something everyone did. Someone would do a round and it would mean that the next time it was someone else’s turn. It fills me with pride knowing that it was never my turn. It didn’t diminish my career prospects nor did it cause people to not like me – I worked way too hard and way too well for that to happen.
Is there anyone out there who enjoys the coffee or tea run? If you are one of those people that have to do it, would you ever not? And how did it all begin?