Friday, 15 June 2012

Mug Wars

We human beings are territorial. While we have evolved to be able to play words with friends during the completion of important work tasks (neurosurgery and the like) and support a child in Africa for only $1 a day, the grumpy little banana hoarding monkey inside us all just won't go away. One place we can see this is in the work place in a game I have come to affectionately call 'Mug wars'.

 You bring in a special mug to work. Possibly it was a gift with 'World's greatest mum' on it or maybe it's exactly the right size for your morning coffee. Whatever the reason you chose it, you chose it and it's yours and then one day you arrive at work. Hmmmm, you think to yourself... I could do with a coffee/ tea/ chai latte / insert hot drink of choice. You mosey on down to the cupboard, open the door and BAM! no mug. The horror... the fury. Some bastard has taken your mug! The first time this happens there's a strange feeling of being violated. Who would do that to you? Why would they do that?

The second time it happens you get angry. And indignant! And... angry. Seriously, if someone doesn't want to drink out of the dodgy looking pint sized work supplied mugs then why don't they bring their own instead of taking something that ISN'T THEIRS! You leave scathing notes on the work notice board or take to hiding your special cup behind or even under things on your desk. Anything to preserve the sanctity of your special drinking vessel. You give co-workers the beady eyeball. Was it you who took my mug? You try to work out who you can trust. If someone can use your mug what's to stop them from permanently 'borrowing' your special pencil from the $2 shop with the plastic  eraser on top shaped like a bowl of noodles. Work relationships sour and paranoia abounds.

I used to be really judgemental of mug guarders. Ha ha ha I would laugh smugly to myself. It's just a stupid mug - who gets that upset about a mug? LOL, ROFL etc.

Except it appears that I do....

A couple of weeks ago I rolled up at work - tired from the night before (I might have been to see a band - the details are hazy) and desperate for a coffee. I got to the cupboard and what do you know... no mug. Everyone knew which mug was mine. It was pretty noticeable. Anyone who had taken it had to know that it was mine.  I felt a wave of anger and resentment with a hint of betrayal. Who would do that kind of thing. Especially now when I needed that mug most!

Grudgingly I made myself a coffee in one of the substandard work supplied mugs. Obviously this abomination of a cup was way too small so I would have to go back for a second helping - annoying. I was grumbling to myself as I went to my desk. Across from me was a reliever who I'm particularly fond of. He inquired about my well-being. I said I was feeling a bit grouchy. He said 'oh dear, sorry to hear that' and then he took a sip of tea from... MY MUG!

Me: THAT'S MY.... (I realise I am yelling and try to tone it down a bit).... mug
Hapless Reliever: Oh is it? (looks at the mug nods approvingly) It's a great mug (takes another sip)
Me: (low growling tone... think wolf mama protecting cubs) That's my mug.
HR: Oh....(HR is being a bit slow on the uptake here - part of me wonders if this is on purpose to prolong mug abduction) ... oh sorry ( HR looks genuinely sorry - hmm liar??) I can use another mug if you want...

At this point I realise that HR probably doesn't know it's my mug (being a reliever and all) and I start to feel a liiiiitle bit like a crazy psycho.

Me: It's ok (I say in high strangled tone that clearly indicates that it's absolutely not ok but I'm trying to pretend that it's ok so that no one thinks I'm weird - it may be too late other people are starting to stare. I try to smile. It's hard. I have to force it. I think it might look more like a grimace... or a snarl... I stop smiling immediately)
HR: No really, I can get another cup - I didn't realise that people had special mugs.
Me: (aloud - in a strangled high pitched voice) That's ok, you didn't know... ( (inside) - Oh come on, you can't tell me you didn't notice the 20 shitty 1970's smokey-glass half-size coffee mugs interspersed between noticeably expensive full size mugs that are obviously lovingly chosen to suit the individual drinkers needs and personality!!)

The hapless reliever looked at me,  eyes wide with what I think might have been fear, and then drained the tea and handed over the mug. I felt a little bad about my outburst, but not so bad that I didn't take the mug, wash it out and immediately make myself a cup of coffee in said special mug. The coffee tasted good. It tasted like victory.

Later that day I hid the coffee cup behind a the pen holder on my desk. (I managed to stop myself from leaving a scathing note on the board - only just though)

After 'mug-gate' I had to take a long hard look at myself. Decisions were made. I would never judge someone's ridiculous behaviour again - well I would try not to  it would depend how ridiculous it was ( eg. cycle shorts will never be immune to my ridicule and people with giant fins on the back their car to improve road holding in a country where the maximum speed limit is 100 km per hour and ...) and I would be less possessive of things because they're only things after all. But, having said that, God help the person who 'borrowed' my twink pen and didn't give it back... I'm off to write a note on the notice board about it right now....

p.s. this is a picture of the mug... I'm sure you can understand what the fuss was about...

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