Steeped in Embarrassment: My Brush with Mortification When a Colleague Made Me Tea
In the early days of my journalism career, fetching the kettle for my superiors was an unspoken expectation. Fast forward three decades, and the mere thought sends shivers down my spine. Recently, while standing in line for my morning coffee fix, I found myself behind a woman placing a rather elaborate order. Each request was meticulously crafted—cappuccino, latte, oat milk, skinny, extra hot—the variations seemed endless. As the queue grew behind me, I couldn't help but notice a Just Eat delivery person patiently waiting. My initial amusement at his apparent ability to afford a high-end coffee was short-lived when I realized the multitude of drinks he was collecting were not for himself, but for delivery. My caffeine-deprived brain struggled to comprehend who would opt to have coffee delivered and in what state it would arrive. The logistics seemed baffling. I envisioned a precarious balancing act akin to a Cirque du Soleil performance, except with coffee cups instead of acrobats. Had I been tasked with such a mission, spillage would have been inevitable. But still, the burning question persisted: who on earth orders coffee delivery? The answer, I speculated, likely involves a mix of extreme laziness and overwhelming busyness. Perhaps both simultaneously. As I pondered the destination of the eight carefully prepared coffees, my mind wandered to the possibility of a coffee morning gathering, a relic from the past. Regardless, the notion of coffee delivery remained a perplexing enigma, a testament to the quirks of modern life.
It appears that the eight coffees were intended for an office setting, which offers a plausible explanation for their delivery. It seems that modern workplace dynamics, fueled by a reluctance to delegate even the simplest tasks, have shifted significantly. Gone are the days when it was standard practice, even expected, for junior staff members to fetch refreshments. Personally, I haven't requested a coffee from anyone in years, as doing so now feels uncomfortably akin to a microaggression. Reflecting on recent experiences at the BBC studio in Birmingham, I am struck by the kindness of studio engineers who, unprompted, have taken it upon themselves to brew me a cup of tea. Their gestures have left me humbled, almost embarrassed by the disparity in our roles. Ironically, I would sooner request a beverage from my superiors—the programme editor, channel controller, or even the director general—than impose such a task on someone in a more junior position. It's a stark departure from the workplace norms of thirty years ago when making tea or coffee was a way for interns, like myself at the time, to contribute meaningfully. Let me clarify: I'm not complaining. I willingly prepare and deliver countless hot drinks, accruing loyalty points at Costa and Caffè Nero along the way. However, if the solution to the coffee conundrum involves dispatching a stranger on an e-bike from a foreign tech company, then perhaps we're asking the wrong questions. It's time for workers to unite and reclaim the responsibility of fetching refreshments. Let's send the boss out for coffee runs instead. Adrian Chiles, Broadcaster, Writer, and Guardian Columnist.
In conclusion, the evolving dynamics of workplace culture have led to a reluctance to delegate even the most menial tasks, such as fetching coffee. While some may view this shift as progress, it's essential to consider the unintended consequences, such as the loss of opportunities for junior staff to contribute and the erosion of camaraderie within the workplace. Instead of outsourcing coffee runs to delivery services, perhaps it's time to reconsider the traditional hierarchy and embrace a more collaborative approach. By empowering all members of the team to pitch in, we can foster a sense of unity and shared responsibility. So, let's raise our mugs to a future where everyone plays a part in keeping the caffeine flowing and the workplace buzzing.