The Ant and the Coffee Maker

It’s a catchy title for a story. It reminds me of one of Aesop’s Fables where there will be some lesson instilled in young minds who endure reading it. That’s probably not going to happen in this tale. Although, somebody might learn something from my mistake. That’s only a mere theory with no statistics to back it up whatsoever.
It started out just like every morning. I go to the bathroom, wash my hands, turn on the computer, and then I go make my cup of coffee. Once the coffee maker is started, I return to the computer to crank-start the ancient phone-line modem and connect to the Internet.
The coffee maker chugs and churns on the kitchen counter. It’s a two-cup model and it does just about the perfect job of brewing our favorite gourmet blend coffee. One of our few lavish luxuries. I brew one single cup, which is rather large, and when mine is ready, I set the machine up for my wife.
Once I finally get connected to the Internet, I am assuming that the coffee machine must be pretty close to finishing. It’s sad that dial-up takes so long, but that’s the undying truth to the matter. Just in case, I begin the process of checking out all of my favorite web sites, to obtain my sports news and stats, check the weather, and of course, my own personal author based web sites data. Now, surely the cup of coffee is complete and only awaiting the perfect amount of sugar and cream to be added and consumed with delight.
On this particular morning, I abandon one particular web site and leave the home office to retrieve my much anticipated cup of coffee. To my surprise, I hear another unfamiliar chug emanate from the machine as I approach it. What on earth could have slowed this process down, I wonder? Okay, the fact is, it could probably stand to be de-scaled, you know, the old white vinegar and water treatment that cleans the sediments out of the insides of the machine. It’s a fairly new coffee pot and, to my own chagrin, I realize neither of us has taken the time to exercise this important maintenance procedure in our quest to obtain the perfect cup of coffee on a daily basis.
I gather that it’s a little too early in the morning to start such a cumbersome task and promise myself that once my wife’s cup of coffee is done, later when she finally gets up, that I will undertake the procedure personally.
As I grab my cup of coffee, I notice despite the amount of water I put in, the machine has not yielded it back. Although the automatic shut-off switch is no longer illuminated, only a half of the cup is filled with coffee. I ponder putting some more water in the well after I lift the cover to see if there is any left inside, and to my surprise there is none. Where did it go? Did it evaporate? Was that the foreign chugging sounds I heard the machine make just a few moments ago? Was it steaming off the water that was supposed to go into my cup of coffee? I inspect the counter-top to ensure that I hadn’t actually spilled the water when pouring it into the well. As I notice the dry surface of the counter, I realize that I’m in denial that the coffee machine just needs a simple cleaning and resolve to my newly brewed cup of … espresso, I guess. No amount of sugar and cream will make this gourmet blend of coffee the perfect cup on this morning. It’s too strong, obviously because the proper amount of water did not brew and filter through the heaping ¼ cup of grounds placed in the filter trap.
I like cappuccino, so I settle for the strong coffee that morning. As usual, before returning to the computer, I set up my wife’s cup so all she has to do is hit the start button when she decides to finally get up.
The coffee is strong, but tolerable enough for me. I resolve in the fact that I will be making another one later on for my commute to work and the machine will be de-scaled for that cup, therefore, it’s not a complete loss.
I return to the computer and browse more sites and gather more data and statistics. Soon my mind is finally submerged in thought and the coffee machine de-scaling becomes low on the thought process. That is, until I take another sip of my coffee and grimace down the mouthful. Hey … it will wake me up proper, right?
A little while later, my wife gets up. She stealthily approaches me from behind, trying to adjust her sleepy eyes to the bright monitor of the computer and ensure that I’m behaving myself on the Internet, and then she wraps her arms around my shoulders and neck and places her head next to mine for our first “good morning” kiss. Satisfied with the fact that I didn’t quickly close one window and was startled by her attack, I offer to get up and go push the button to the coffee machine. We have a joke … sort of. She tells me I make a better cup of coffee than she does, so I tell her it’s all in the way I push the button. I’ve extended this joke to the way I stir the cream in sugar in the final product. Counter-clock wise for several swirls and then one final clock-wise stir to slow the whirlpool of hot coffee down. It’s the one clock-wise stir I insist is the “flavor stir,” I tell her and she smiles, certainly not buying into my theory.
I push the button to the coffee machine again and listen to it come to life and begin the process all over again for her cup. Returning to the home office, I keep a watchful ear out on the chugs and churns to make myself aware if she is going to endure the same problem I did with mine. Much to my pleasure, when the cup is done brewing, the perfect amount of water has filtered through the machine and she now has a perfect cup of coffee sitting below the cone. Lucky her. I add her cream and sugar and do the whole counter-clock wise/clock-wise procedure, which produces yet another smile from her sleepy face and I hand her over the cup. She happily walks to the living room to sit on the couch with her coveted coffee mug and wait for the caffeine to kick in.
I tell her about my less than perfect cup of coffee and the fact that we need to de-scale the machine. She tells me the manual for the coffee maker is conveniently inside the cupboard right above it where we also keep the mugs, the grinder, and the coffee. To my horror, there are several procedures to de-scale the darn thing. It’s not rocket science. It’s repeating the same process over and over again and letting the machine cool down in between. I have to leave for work in just over an hour and now my second cup of coffee of the day has a threatened existence. I fervently begin the process, but before I do, I decide to unplug the machine and run water through the well and just tip it back out in the sink.
Now, considering the title of this story, I’m sure the reader is just waiting to find out why I chose to call it what I did. You can imagine what I discovered when I tipped the machine full of water over. There, at the bottom of the sink was a large, black ant. The big ones that grow almost an inch long. He had been sitting on the bottom of the coffee machine well and I had mistaken him for some sludge of some sort since he had been boiled for God knows how long and was not moving around. He was dead, of course.
Suddenly, my mind screamed out. I must tell my wife to stop drinking her coffee and I’ll just make her a new cup! Then, the rational part of my brain spoke up. My wife is totally “bugged” out by bugs. Pun intended. She has certainly already had a few sips off of her morning coffee. And this ant is undoubtedly the cause of the machine acting up incorrectly when it brewed my cup earlier. Maybe the ant was trying to drink as much of the water as it could so it wouldn’t burn as bad. Who knows? Only the ant and maybe God and neither one of them are talking to me. Listen, J. I say to myself. If you tell your wife that you just discovered this ant inside the coffee machine, not only are you going to ruin her first cup of coffee of the day, she’s also not going to be able to enjoy the next one or the one after that. All she’s ever going to remember is that the machine was breached by a bug once and it will never leave her. And it’s not exactly like I was feeling any adverse effects from the ant. I felt okay. It’s not like the ant was crushed and ground up in the coffee grounds and then brewed. It was inside the fresh water well. So we weren’t exactly drinking ant-flavored Columbian coffee. We were drinking filtered ant-enhanced Columbian coffee.

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