Monday, September 27, 2010

Coffee Spills: A Guide to managing the aftermath

I'd be lying if I said it took me a whole 10 months to spill another drink in the office. I'd blame the previous incident which happened last November on the agency folks, the overwhelming number of hand shakes required in the meeting and partially, Lipi. There have been other social etiquette mishaps, some uncomfortable faux pas. But none were quite as power packed as what happened today at 1.50pm. And this time I can only blame it on my zealous efforts in completing a critical report which would eventually build the company's business and enhance shareholder value (HR, please note).

There are some key things you need to remember to be an expert at managing coffee spillages:

DON'T LAUGH OR GIGGLE FOR THE FIRST FIFTEEN SECONDS
In your unending days of corporate life, some of you will surely encounter situations where you have coffee simulatenously dripping from the desk, your laptop and your trousers. At that moment, it is not important to ponder over how you have gotten into this situation; How from being in a soporific state a few minutes ago, which forced you to get coffee in the first place, you are almost the protagonist of a mild Hollywood horror movie - the ultimate blonde screaming at everything, minus the sex angle.

It is more important to focus on the present (the dripping coffee) than the past (the dry trousers). Post coffee spillage, without giving vent to giggles, please rush to the coffee counter for some tissues.

NEXT: ELEVATE THE LAPTOP FIRST
From my previous glass spilling experience, I'd learnt from Lipi that office wipes absorb liquids; and also that laptops don't absorb liquids. Hence, before entering the crucial decision making process of whose bum to wipe first (yours or the laptop's), elevate the laptop.

FASTER DECISION MAKING IS BETTER FOR YOU
(Corollary: Rational decision making is better for the laptop)
It's a simple question - should you clean up your trousers first or save your laptop from possible coffee electrical mishaps? If I understand corporate life well, your success depends a lot more on how dry your trousers are in the day vs. responsible management of office property and sound business acumen. Hence, before catering to the coffee drops and stains on the laptop, always choose to wipe yourself first.

IT'S NOT AS EMBARRASSING TO WIPE YOURSELF IN PUBLIC AS YOU'D THINK
Find a secluded spot, if opting for a bathroom cubicle seems too constrained to you. Use one hand to stretch out the affected trouser area. Use a wet issue, preferably not dripping with coffee. Wipe well. Keep a constant lookout for passerbys and the awful corridor conversationalists. Stay away from women. Even if you are catering to your crotch for very legitimate reasons, they will choose to display apathy and possibly disgust.

YOU CAN WIPE THE LAPTOP WITH A WET TISSUE TOO
This is just an assumption. I wiped the laptop with a dry tissue assuming that adding moisture would increase the risk of electrocution. As a trade off, the laptop is smelling of coffee and sugar now. But I guess ants will eventually eat away whatever is sticky. So I am not too worried.

CLEAN YOUR DESK WITH MINIMAL EFFORT
The new world corporate offices have provided plush carpeting so that it absorbs whatever spillage the hard working employees create. Using just a couple of tissues, just swipe the coffee off the desk onto the carpeting. If you are lucky, it'll be dark grey in colour and nobody will figure out your mistake for a decade.

Return back to work displaying as much normalcy as possible. Pretend it all never happened. Work hard, and lick some coffee off the laptop, if you still need the boost to stay awake.

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Found this to be useful? Here are some previous guides:
A Guide to Arranged Marriages via Spreadsheets
A Guide to Girlie Shopping (by a guy)

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