Jerry had a habit. One specific habit everybody who knew him even a little would eventually notice. Wherever he went, he had a thermos with him, with piping hot coffee in it. He would sip from it from time to time, making sure not to let it cool down too much. There would always be a small hand-written label on it with the type of beans he'd used to brew this specific batch. And they were the kind of beans with at least 5 words in their name. If you looked a little bit longer, you'd notice the sticker on his laptop bag with a red stripe over the Starbucks logo.
Jerry was a coffee snob.
As long as you avoided the topic of coffee, he was pleasant enough to talk to. Some people found out the hard way that he wasn't just a coffee snob about his own coffee, though. If he saw you using cream and sugar, he would lecture you about how you were essentially ruining your coffee. He would also point out that by doing so, you obviously had no respect for coffee at all. You were, to him, a philistine.
But then there was the day Jerry showed up at work without his thermos. His coworkers immediately noticed and started hushed conversations. Nobody would go up to him about it, but they were more than content to speculate.
"He was mugged and they took his coffee!" one coworker offered.
"Turns out he's allergic to coffee." another jokingly added.
"I bet his mom said he couldn't have coffee anymore."
"Maybe he went to Starbucks, found out it was better than his own coffee and now he's lost his faith."
They snickered. Jerry looked at them, he'd obviously heard them whispering, and they pretended really hard to be working. Jerry continued on to his desk and put his bag down. He slumped into his chair and turned on his computer. For about an hour, he simply worked in silence.
Then he got up. As he walked to the kitchen, his coworkers noticed and looked, interested to see what he was going to get. Would he finally get a cup of coffee from the regular coffee maker?
He grabbed a mug from one of the cupboards and did exactly that. He grabbed a sugar cube and dropped it in, after which he opened the fridge and got the cream. A silence spread throughout the office. Nobody understood why this was happening. What was wrong with him? Jerry sighed as he walked back to his desk, offensive coffee -- as he had called it in the past -- in hand.
Somebody got up. It was Luke, the systems administrator. He and Jerry usually got along rather well and he looked at the others to see if he should go to Jerry. Everybody nodded yes.
Luke walked up to Jerry, "Hey man, what's up with you?"
"Oh, nothing. Just not feeling it today."
He took a sip from his mug and cringed a little.
"How's the coffee?" Luke tried, tilting his head a little.
"It's fine," Jerry said as he put the mug down.
"Okay, listen. Something's up and we're all a little worried. Where's your own coffee?"
"I didn't make any. I'm over it."
A murmur spread through the office. Luke looked at some of his coworkers to shut it down.
"Jerry? This isn't like you, man. Why're you over your coffee? I thought it was so much better than this... What'd you call it?"
"Offensive. I called it offensive. And I was wrong, okay? I'm sorry."
Jerry looked over at his onlookers and said it again, "I'm sorry. I was wrong."
"What do you mean, you were wrong?"
Jerry seemed to considered the question for a moment, then sighed.
"Fine. You want to know? I've been buying my coffee from the same people for years. They had the best selection, they gave decent advice, they had the exclusive stuff. I trusted them, Luke. I was willing to pay 30 bucks a bag just to know for sure that they were quality beans."
"So what happened, then? You said you trusted them, as in past tense?"
"Yeah. I did trust them. I spent a lot of money there. I thought I was getting what I was paying for."
"So what changed?"
Jerry looked up, looking ashamed and miserable. He grabbed his mug and took a sip. He cringed again.
"I went by yesterday to pick up a bag of very exclusive beans. They had to order them specifically for me, which is why they were so expensive and why it took so long for them to arrive. But when I got there, the store was closed. There wasn't any reason why as far as I could tell, not even a note on the window, nothing. But there was someone in the shop next door. I went in and asked the owner what had happened."
He paused for a moment and played with his mug.
"She told me they had closed down because someone found out they got all their beans at Walmart. And not even the good ones. The budget ones."
Coworkers here and there snickered. Jerry shot them a foul look.
"They took some of the beans," he continued, "and roasted them again, and they just added flavors to it to create variety."
Luke suppressed a laugh.
"Turns out I've been lecturing all of you on how to respect your coffee and how to make a proper cup, while I've been drinking what they use for truck stop coffee and thinking it was great."
Luke did not suppress a laugh this time.
Jerry shot him an angry look too.
"I'm sorry, man. I really am," he said between laughs, "but you have to admit it's kind of funny."
"I don't see how. I've been living a lie!"
"Okay, look. How about this. We're going to go out, now, and go get a proper cup of coffee. One that's certifiably good. No Starbucks, no cheaters. No lofty, pretentious promises. Just a good, traditional cup of joe."
Jerry considered it. He put down the mug.
"Better than this stuff?" he asked.
"Better than this stuff," Luke said, smiling.
"Alright. I'll try that."
"Good, let's go."
They got up, grabbed their coats and left the office.
"What a weirdo," somebody said.
"But he's not wrong. This coffee is really bad."
Many people nodded their heads in agreement, to both statements.
Author's note 1: I guess you could see this as a sort of 'sequel' to Coffee, a story I did some years ago, but this time I wanted to make Jerry a little less of a freak. Also, it was very enjoyable to write about his arrogance being misplaced.
Author's note 2: This is part 2 of the Jerry Saga.
Part 1: Coffee
Part 2: Something about Coffee
Part 3: There he goes again
Part 4: Coffee Snobs Unanimous