Editor’s note: Steve Hammer is on vacation this week. The following column was originally published in NUVO on Nov. 20, 1997. It will be included in the as-yet-untitled book of Hammer columns, to be published in 2009.
The other day, I stumbled out of bed to a horrendous discovery: My coffee pot was broken.
In my household, this news brings the same reaction that the JFK assassination or the stock market crash brought in certain circles. My miniature world was thrown asunder.
It was a baffling development. The light came on and the machine looked as if it was working, but no coffee came out, no matter how hard I prayed to the gods who oversee household appliances.
I pleaded with it, threatened it, even gave it a few well-timed whacks, but nothing worked. It was dead, Jim. Gone to coffee heaven.
The delicious French roast beans I had so lovingly subjected to the grinder were suddenly orphaned. Their manifest destiny to provide me with my daily caffeine fix had suddenly been revoked.
I felt cold. And alone. And thirsty.
This coffee maker had been a particularly valuable ally to me. For over a decade, it had dutifully provided hot, delicious coffee for my guests, my family and myself. It gave and gave and gave yet never asked for anything, except for an occasional vinegar douche.
As I stood there in my underwear in the kitchen, the stark realization hit me. My beloved coffee maker was dead. In my state of shock, my years of journalism training took hold and I mentally began writing the obituary for my late friend.
Mr. Coffee, 10 years old, died Wednesday at the home of Steve Hammer after a sudden illness. The machine, originally purchased from Target in 1987, had dutifully brewed thousands of cups before its demise. Survivors include an uncle, Juan Valdez; a nephew, Joe DiMaggio; and a cousin, Mr. Tea. Services will be held Saturday at the Maxwell House.
I remembered when I received the coffee pot as a gift from my mom. It had already provided years of stalwart service to my parents. I reminisced about the early-morning conversations that had been held over the steaming cups of coffee it produced.
And I thought about the people who had drunk its coffee over the years. Some of them were still around but others had passed away. I thought of the fellowship and good feelings that had been nourished by its work.
I thought of the pleasing rumble it made as it did its work, a rumble not unlike the sound I make as I do mine. I mourned the loss of my friend.
But I was comforted by the fact that in its latter years, it had seen only gourmet blends of coffee in it. Its days of consorting with caffeinated floozies such as Cost Cutter coffee were far behind it.
Somehow, I must pick up the shattered pieces of my life and continue. There will be other coffee makers, other cups of java, new beans to grind.
The next time you fix your morning coffee, take a moment and hoist your mug in salute to my late coffee maker, and, for that matter, all the Mr. Coffees out there who gave up their lives in order that we might drink.
I’ll miss you, dear friend.