Saturday, July 29, 2006

"80-Degree Virtual Assault"

Fun at work. Just when I was thinking things were going fairly well in the tower, I was virtually assaulted by a raging lunatic in the section kitchen (which is the tea and coffee drinkers version of the proverbial water cooler). There's a water heater in the room that heats water to about 95 degrees or so, and there's a five-liver electric pot that heats it a few more degrees to 98 from there. The pot also has settings for 80-degrees and 90-degrees. (Apparently some kinds of green tea are best prepared with 80-degree water, but - hey - most of the people in the office are drinking coffee or western tea anyway, so the rule of "majority rules" calls for standard nearly boiling water. There is this one insane monster though - Mr. 80-degree Lunatic - who is constantly going on about 80-degrees being best....)

People tend to let the pot run nearly empty, so I've gotten into the habit of topping it up when I get hot water for tea myself. The prelude to the virtual assault happened on Thursday last week. I was filling up the plastic jug that is used to ferry water from the wall-mounted water heater to the electric pot, and since Mr. 80-degree Lunatic was rinsing out his little round special 80-degree teapot on the left side of the sink, I positioned the jug as far to the right as possible, just out of range of the water heater overflow pipe (that never seems to emit anything anyway) and began filling it up. He reached over and pulled the jug over by his bloody 80-degree teapot, so I pulled it back over to the right and said that it would be better not to have his splashing getting into the drinking water.

Then, as the jug was nearly full, Mr. 80-degree Lunatic reached over and turned off the tap. I was thinking "Mind your own business you bloody sub-human 80-degree lunatic!" but instead I turned the tap back on, put on a plastic smile and said "It's not full yet" to which Mr. Lunatic started in with a very irritating chant "Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!-Achi!" (a mutated form of "atsui" - hot) said many more times than I've taken the trouble to write down here. I poured the hot water into the pot to the continuing "achi!-achi!" chant and went back for more, but Mr. Lunatic had the hot water pouring into his bloody little 80-degree teapot, so I waited until it was full... and then looked on as the hot water was just spilling over the completely full teapot... so I held the plastic jug over the lunatics little pot and put in some more water.

Then - as I filled up the five-liter pot - Mr. 80-degree Lunatic started making faces and noises about the pot being too full. I was carefully keeping the water below the full mark, so it was a load of nonsense, but (I later surmised) I think the lunatic likes to pour cold water into the pot to drag the temperature down to his beloved 80-degrees. Being a dishonest and nasty creature though, he would never be straightforward, so instead of saying "Sorry to be an 80-degree pest, but could you leave some space in that? I would like to pour in some cold water to get my beloved 80-degree water", he instead was acting as though I were about to spill a can of gasoline onto an open flame. (Incidentally, from time to time the pot is set to 80-degrees... until one of the vast majority of us who like boiling water for our tea or coffee turns it back to 98.)

I came out of that feeling a little odd, but I had fought off each insult, so I didn't feel bad about the outcome and the incident quickly faded to the back of my mind.

Then came Friday. I was in the section kitchen with the lid open and pouring hot water into the five-liter pot when Mr. 80-degree Lunatic rushed in and said "No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!-No!" - again, said many more times than I've taken the trouble to write down here. Stupidly falling into the swamp of that lunatic's world, I said "What do you mean 'No!-No!-No!-No!-No!'?". He then launched into a lecture about how "Water hotter than 80-degrees will hurt the tea leaves!", punctuated with his putting his hot and evil feeling right and left paws on my arms, the way you would with a lover. I had a strong impulse to throw scalding water onto his face when he did that, but I put on a plastic smile and tried to get out of the swamp in some civilized way.

Mr. 80-degree Lunatic seeing that I wasn't convinced of the leaves being hurt (I pointed out that they're going into the trash anyway and that he was inconveniencing the rest of the office with his selfishness - I was fast losing diplomacy), he then said "The whole world knows that 80-degrees is best for tea! Only Russia likes boiling water and that's because they're poor!". I replied that I was poor too, and he - predictably - said "No-no-no-no-no - you're rich!", while putting his filthy stinking paws on me again, once more producing an urge to dump my 98-degree mug of hot water onto his nasty face.

I finally got away from Mr. 80-degree Lunatic feeling like I had been molested and needed to de-tox my arms, but two-minutes later, I went back to the tea-room to check on a hunch. I saw Mr. 8D Lunatic leaving, so I followed him to find out where his desk is (enemy reconnaissance). Making a note of where Mr. 8D Lunatic sat down, I went back to the section kitchen and saw that the pot that had been completely full of 95-degree water two minutes before was now working to get the pot past 80... he had obviously poured out some of the hot water and poured in cold water to get his beloved 80-degrees... the rest of the office be damned (there are about 100 people on the floor that use that same area kitchen). Nasty creature that.

Mind you, I don't actually have a problem with little round teapots and special green tea that likes to be made with 80-degree water, but I believe in majority rule for a communal thing like this and see no reason for everyone to suffer for one bloody lunatic! Besides, we're not talking about a tea room in Kyoto, with kimono-clad damsels being cultural, we're talking about a glass, steel and aluminum office tower full of working coffee drinkers in Tokyo. Anyway - the unwanted physical contact is the most upsetting aspect. If it continues, I'll make a formal complaint.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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