Friday, August 08, 2008

Requiem for a coffee mug

I've been at my job for a little more than eight years. During orientation on my first day in July 2000 I received a white coffee mug with a torch and the words "One Liberty" on it (I work at One Liberty Plaza downtown). Everyone got one. I don't remember who else started that day, but I'm sure they don't have their mugs anymore. I've drunk more cups of bad Filterfresh coffee from that mug than I care to remember. I've had my mug through two or three office moves. It survived 9/11. But it didn't survive a fall onto the kitchenette floor a few minutes ago. I was cleaning out the gunky residue from yesterday's Filterfresh brew when the mug slipped from my hands, bounced off the recycling bin and shattered on the floor. The handle broke into a few pieces, some more bits chipped off the rim, and there were shards of ceramic all over the floor. I didn't even look at the mug that closely before I threw it in the trash. I suppose I could have tried to glue it back together, but it's dead to me now.

So this is weird. It's not the loss of a mug: I've got several other coffee mugs both at work and at home, so it's easily replaced. Right now I'm drinking coffee from a mug that commemorates the firm's 60th anniversary two years ago. (For the anniversary, everyone on the admin staff received a mug and we had a reception in a conference room with wine and beer, while the attorneys had a lavish prom-like party at the AMNH.) But it feels like I've lost something that represented me when I started here as a cheerful 26-year-old who was still new to the city. I wasn't the experienced network administrator that I am now. I also wasn't the jaded graybeard that I seem to have become over the years. My boss at my last job used to say of the people who'd worked at that firm for years that they "knew where all the bodies are buried." I've started to feel like I'm that guy here. I haven't figured out yet whether that's good or bad or a mix. I might be ready for a job change soon, but since I don't know what that change might entail, I'm staying put.

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