Caffeine Consumption

Apparently when you visit a new physician you have to fill out a crapload of paperwork…Where do you work? Do you smoke? What is your caffeine consumption? Etc.

Granted, this was years ago, but I still remember, very clearly, how that visit went. How much caffeine do I consume? Seriously?! That’s virtually impossible to track. All things considered, I simply wrote: “I work for Starbucks.” I thought that should give the Doc a good idea of what we were looking at in the world of caffeine.

Sure, she laughed, but she wanted a number. Um, so, like, in shots of espresso? I asked, sweaty palms clenched.

I thought about a typical day – opening the store, teaching music lessons (because many idealistic, artsy-fartsy folks wear a green apron to work), and doing homework – and gave her a number: Ten. I tried to be realistic, yet erred on the side of caution, sure that I was about to be chastised over whatever number I quoted.

Ten Shots of Espresso per Week?

In that moment, whatever question I had about getting a lecture was annihilated, as I hung my head in shame. Who could live on ten shots of espresso per week? Obviously someone who’s not expected to be productive, right?

Unable to make eye contact: Nope. Sigh.

It took her a moment to realize that my denunciation of her guess actually equated, rather, to ten shots of espresso per day. As I said, I tried to keep my number as conservative as possible, but…I wasn’t considering the brewed coffee and Diet Coke(s).

Setting up the store: two shots – to taste them, for the customers. By 7AM, four shots, iced, and slammed behind the counter. Break? It was usually busy by then, so I’d grab a mug of drip coffee so I’d have something to drink with my croissant. Besides, by then, I was exhausted. At a certain point, coffee gets old, so an ice-cold soda seemed to be the answer mid-morning. Getting off work, however, one mustn’t leave empty handed, so for a little treat a Grande, soy, no water, extra hot seven pump chai tea latte was often a good choice…which disappeared on the way home.

Eat lunch. Take a quick nap. Brew half a pot of coffee to slam while getting ready for job number two. Nearly falling asleep on break, swing by for a quad Grande Americano with cream. After work, enjoy a Diet Coke with dinner, and go to bed. Repeat.

So, imagine my surprise when the good Doc thought anyone could survive on ten shots of espresso per week! And, imagine her surprise when she found out about the amount of espresso I consumed on a daily basis, not to mention my consumption as a whole.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s found myself in a similar situation. I tried to be honest, though I admit I did stop explaining myself after the introduction of the lecture.

That was then. This is now. So, what is my current consumption? Well…

At one point, I gave it up completely for a full twenty-one days, which is supposedly the amount of time it takes to develop a habit. Though, it was then that I started teaching preschool.

Between Liam pooping his pants and Claire dancing around in circles with toilet paper wedged between her “cheeks” squealing It looks like a tail! I went right back to brewing my coffee – not to mention Kaia’s affinity for dropping “f-bombs” during circle time, Cooper’s refusal to try to do anything on his own, the incessant writing on the walls (literally), and Disney princess songs belted out at the top of their precious little lungs. All. Day. Long.

It’s just a cup or two in the morning – because we all know one super-sized mug equals a cup, whether or not we’ve brewed a half a pot. And, another cup or two in the afternoon. Sometimes, a cup in the evening.

These days, dangerously near my forties, I don’t drink as much espresso as I once did, though I still enjoy it as much. I guess in order to cut back, in addition to getting older; I only had to make a few changes to reduce the juice.

For one, I got another job; a different one. I still work just as much, if not more, but the hours are condensed, so I don’t have to get up earlier in order to work later. The only downfall is I don’t get an afternoon nap. On the flip side, it’s generally quieter.

I started budgeting, albeit out of necessity. The good news is that I bought an espresso machine for my home use. The bad news – I’m now working on paying for the caffeine I habituated through college, at 23.9% interest. Winning the UGLY SWEATER CONTEST at work on a daily basis (Christmas time or otherwise), I’ve been relegated to thrift store shopping while others still see the novelty in it. Bless their hearts.

What once used to be a social life, well, is no more. That had to go. Socializing takes too much time away from working to catch up on past-due credit card bills from the late 90’s, for which I require sleep. Now that I don’t have any friends, I drink less coffee, because I never go anywhere – with anyone.

On the rare occasion that I do “go out,” as the kids say, I meet someone at a coffee shop – usually for a meeting, but I suppose it’s somehow reminiscent of all things fun back-in-the-day. Even that is on a budget, because I need to submit expense reports, which somehow always seem to be capped at “relevant business expenses” by someone, somewhere, who clearly doesn’t understand the need for a daily caffeine fix. Obviously they live under a rock. Probably a nice one, though, since they’ve trimmed the business budget to the point where I now need to supply my own pens for office work.

Regardless, over time my cup has been filled time and time again, though (technically) I drink way less coffee than before. So what if my mug has gotten larger? Would my Doctor be impressed? Maybe not. But, at least now when I’m asked What is your caffeine consumption? I can answer, fairly honestly: About one to two cups per day.


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