Monday, January 25 2021

hotel coffee, ryan, and fish farts



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. Did you shoot out of bed this morning in top form, or do the ghosts of beer and salty calories continue to stalk you through your morning routine? Perhaps I did a little too much relaxing this past weekend. For better or for worse, it was a proper American weekend filled with light beer, fast food, and watching sports on the couch. After such a hectic week, it was nearly impossible to prevent the three day skid into a college freshman lifestyle. But it’s Monday now. Time to shake the weekend crumbs off our clothes and get back to work.

Sip. This morning I’m drinking Pike’s Place - courtesy of the Starbucks in the Double Tree hotel on the other side of town, and I should also give credit to my delivery driver Dan. I don’t know how these Grubhub drivers stave off the impulse to lash out at people. Personally, if I had to drive on the snowy beltine just to drop off four cups of hotel Starbucks coffee, I’d have a tough time not passing judgment. I’d send a text like “Hi this is Alex, your GrubHub driver. Just wanted you to know that your FOUR CUPS OF COFFEE were safely transported all the way from the DOUBLE TREE HOTEL on the west side of town to your unshoveled porch. I’ll wait here while you get your slippers.”

Sadly our coffee machine is out of commission. Over the weekend the brew cycle was extra loud and taking a lot longer. The coffee batches were cold and left a slimy hard-water taste in my mouth. I use de-scaling solution and left it out to dry before gently shaking the chalky mineral deposits out, but it seemed to just make things worse. With some careful tinkering, Marissa got the water tube unclogged, but the damn thing still takes twenty minutes to heat up a single pot of water. I sighed, and took the machine apart.

“I’ll call the customer support line tomorrow,” Marissa said.

“Man, I have serious coffee stress,” I said, ignoring her. “After we put Rod to bed, let’s have a meeting about it.”

“A meeting?” asked Marissa. “A meeting about what?”

“To talk about the coffee machine,” I clarified. “We should sit down and figure out our options and how we’re going to attack this.”

“How about I call the customer support tomorrow,” repeated Marissa. I stared at her blankly.

“Yeah, call customer support. That’s a good idea,” I said.

“So do we still need to have a meeting?” she asked.

“No, that will do,” I said. I nervously paced in the dining room as if I were awaiting news from a surgeon. “Emergency coffee meeting is adjourned.”

In other news, in the past two days Rodney has fallen in love with a completely new show from Nickelodeon. It took him all of two days to turn himself into a die hard fan of Ryan’s Mystery Playdate. The show is kind of a modern take on the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, hosted by a regular kid named Ryan. A few silly characters show up, but for the most part it’s just Ryan playing games with his parents. They talk to the camera and wear regular street clothes.

“YOU CAN DO IT RYAN,” shouted Rodney at the laptop. He clenched his fist in anticipation. His unblinking eyes were fixed on the screen as he watched Ryan and his parents scramble to solve a puzzle before a timer went off.

“I feel bad for Ryan’s parents,” said Marissa. “They must be so tired.”

“Yeah,” I laughed. “They just show up every day to the playroom and start taking orders. When is Ryan’s quiet time? When do they get to do something they like? Is it all Ryan all the time over there?”

Quick fish tank update. The tank is dark and murky. Only faint wisps of orange can be seen as the clown fish anxiously dart around the tank floor. There’s a battle going on - a battle for the soul of the fish tank. A battle against algae.

We had a small outbreak of algae. Following trusted advice, we’re covering the tank with a garbage bag during the day and leaving the light off at night. It’s a full blown light strike, and hopefully it will starve out some of the obnoxious algae.

“The weird thing is that the tank is not nearly as bad as it looks,” explained Marissa. She flicked the light on for a few seconds. “See? Look, this rock is already completely clean.”

We’ve concluded that the murky water must be part of the algae’s response to being starved - the death rattle. Algae Custer’s last stand. Whatever microbial battle is happening in there, it’s clear that the soul of the fish tank is at stake.

Marissa took apart the tank, scrubbing each rock with a toothbrush over the sink. She emptied the tiny plastic tray from the protein skimmer. A single viscous boogery mass rolled out into the sink. Marissa and I were hit with the smell, and we recoiled in pain.

“WHAT IS THAT?” I yelled. Our eyes were watering. Marissa began to dry heave. The whole kitchen was filled with the aroma of what I can best describe as fish farts. The horror.

We spent most of this weekend just lounging around and watching sports. But I managed to get out to Hy-Vee on Saturday for a quick grocery pickup. I returned from the store, shocked to find only two overflowing plastic bags. One of the bags had a rip in it. Cradling it like a baby, I carried it inside and gently laid it on the kitchen floor.

“Look at this,” I said in disgust. “He put both pints of cream, all the cheese, and all the meat, in one bag. And the shallots are just rolling around in there.” I dug a little further into the mess. A free tuft of cilantro was pinned down beneath the cream, and it was already wet from the bag of fresh shrimp beneath it. “Whoever packed these groceries must be some kind of maniac,” I said under my breath.

A maniac - or a chump? That’s right Hy-vee bagger. I’ve got a newsflash for ya, joy boy. When somebody orders cilantro, they generally want it in a plastic bag - not jammed into a wet milk and shrimp crevice like James Franco in 127 Hours. That cilantro was supposed to be for dinner, not for garnishing my 20 pound grocery bag. And at what point did you just side arm a handful of shallots into this mess? Hy-Vee bagger, you’re my chump of the week.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day, everyone.