Originally posted May 25, 2010 on an old version of this blog.
One thing you never think about before you take active steps to alter your outlook on life, is how altering said outlook affects those around you. This becomes apparent almost immediately when changes start to take place but before you get to that point you’re likely so stuck in your head that you are incapable of fathoming how your friends and family feel towards you.
One year for my birthday (or Christmas, I don’t remember) my Mom bought me a disc-burr mechanism coffee grinder to replace the blade grinder I’d used all through college. It worked ok, but periodically it’d clog up with coffee grounds and become unusable. When this happened, beans in the reservoir had to be dumped out and the inner workings of the grinder need to rooted out with this little brush which is as tedious as it sounds and twice as messy. Much like the furnace in the Holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” this coffee grinder was a hot topic of controversy and rage in our otherwise happy home. It was not uncommon to hear me melodramatically shouting things like ”ALL I WANT IN MY LIFE IS A CUP OF GODDAMN COFFEE AND I CAN’T EVEN HAVE THAT!!” before slamming this thing around the kitchen. More often than not this rooting process had to be repeated with several attempts and still often resulted in unsuccessful cleaning of the grinder mechanism to a working state. In the end, coffee grounds end up everywhere and I am enraged well beyond my capacity for rational thought and the grinder is unceremoniously hurled to the kitchen floor with me yelling and stomping around the apartment to find my keys so I can drive to Starbucks.
In retrospect I probably should have been drinking tea.
One day, this scenario started as it often has in the past: the coffee grinder began grinding as normal and then made that familiar, blood-boiling *GRRRRRRR-* and seized up. The difference this time being that the inclusion of my anti-anxiety medication seemed to transform my usual Donald Duck-esque meltdown born of irrational frustration into a simple sigh and the proclamation that “I am just not in the mood to deal with this shit right now.” Shortly after saying this I noticed Kim sitting at her desk, hands pressed against her cheeks with her eyes bugging out.
Obviously tweaked out a little, she said, “Let’s just get rid of the thing, babe.”
“Bah.. It just needs to be cleaned. I’ll do it later, ” I responded. And so it sat on the sink for the next 24 hours.
I took another stab at cleaning it. This time I noticed the brush wasn’t even penetrating the wall of grounds that had caked themselves inside. The combination of bad design and a wet brush had formed, over time, into a kind of coffee bean adobe compound inside of the grinder. It was not coming unclogged using conventional methods. Nevertheless, I diligently tried to make it work and every time resulting in that same aggravating *GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-* sound of zero productivity and every time Kim experiencing a Pavlovian response of panic and anxiety and becoming more insistent that we “just get rid of it.”
I, however, never lost my temper with it.
Finally addressing what I thought was going on my wife’s mind, I said, “I think you’re more angry at this thing than I am now.”
“I keep expecting you to just lose it and go berserk and I can’t help brace myself for it.”
I had programmed her without realizing it. I felt horrible.
Despite thinking I could probably take this grinder apart and fix it, I felt like maybe I needed to just take this one for the team and throw it in the dumpster and start over with a new coffee grinder. But my frugality wouldn’t let me just do that. So I left it on the counter and went to my office to plan my next step.
One day I was home alone and I started chatting with my buddy Luke Worley who I’d once given a french press to. I thought he might understand my anecdotal coffee-induced rage and since Luke is a pretty clever guy, I thought he might have an idea on how to fix this thing. I sat at my computer, IM’ing Luke the details of my situation. His response: “You can put rice in it and it will fix it right up.”
“Yeah, man. I saw it on TV.”
“Fuck it. I’ll do it.”
I knew damned well it wasn’t gonna work, but if by some slim chance it did work then hey we’d have a coffee grinder again.. but I knew it wouldn’t. I knew Luke had something wrong with this rice business. In retrospect, I think rice is intended to clean the burrs which it very well may have done in this case had the chute not already been rendered impassable with impacted coffee grinds. The fistful of rice basically just filled in the spaces between the coffee grinds and the grinder burrs to make it EVEN MORE FUCKING CLOGGED. The frustrating *GRRRRRRRR-* of the burrs trying to move past the coffee grounds became a *NNNNNNNN-* of the motor trying to turn the burrs. This thing was beyond fucked.
I cackled out loud.
When I explained what I did to my wife, she asked me if I thought Luke’s rice method was really going to work.
“Absolutely not,” I said and I dropped it in the garbage can.
I now have a manual crank coffee grinder and I love it. Less messy, less prone to disaster. No motor. Works when the power goes out.