Cascading Catastrophes

Coffee MakerI need coffee in the morning.

Not only do I need it – but the cats need it, my wife needs it, hapless drivers on the road, all need my coffee.  I am worthless and dangerous without it.

So yesterday, when I removed the coffee maker basket to pour in the grounds, it slipped out of my hand.  No worries, it is made of durable plastic and will probably outlast me.

Maybe because it was so tough, it bounced.  It then hopped across the kitchen tiles and skidded through the basement door, briefly visiting each step on its way down the stairs.  Desperate for coffee, I chased after it.

The last glimpse I caught of the basket was of it making a mad dash for the junk pile.

Let me explain this pile.

When we moved into our new house several months ago, THE PILE IN THE BASEMENT was where everything went when we didn’t know where to put it.  Consequently, THE PILE is where most of our stuff is.  It’s huge, it’s chaotic and it’s where the coffee maker basket chose to hide.

It is always like this.  Things just do not go wrong for me; they go catastrophically wrong.  They also have an uncanny knack for choosing the precise instant when I am the most vulnerable – like in the morning.

System designers know all about this – it is called Cascading Catastrophes.  It’s a riff on Murphy’s Law.  Nature not only sides with the hidden flaw but gleefully uncovers a multitude of flaws hidden by the first.  It is why computers crash, airplanes drop out of the sky and an ex-wrestler named Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota.

It is something that only a God with a wry sense of humor could create.

When things go wrong, especially for me, like dropping the coffee maker basket, it’s the things that come after that are catastrophic.  Like the skittering across the floor toward a door left open – which leads to a stairway – whose purpose it is to funnel all object ricocheting down it toward the biggest junk pile in the history of basements.

So what to do?

I couldn’t risk the lives of countless pedestrians by driving to the nearest coffee shop. Nor could I ask a neighbor for coffee because in our rural area, the nearest neighbor is too far away to get to without coffee.

I suppose I could have dialed 911 – but lacking coffee, I also lacked the ability to punch three digits into my cell phone.

So I attacked THE PILE IN THE BASEMENT.

I methodically moved everything from THE PILE to ANOTHER PILE.  When I was done, I still hadn’t found the coffee maker basket, so I methodically moved everything from THE OTHER PILE back to THE PILE but this time, I made it a point to open every box and thoroughly search the contents, least the coffee maker basket be hiding – and it was.

I found it tucked into a cookie jar, a jar with a lid on it.  How that happened is beyond mortal reasoning.  Suffice it to say though, I found it and was able to brew a pot of coffee.

By the time I arrived at work, I was two hours late for a project meeting. The project manager was not happy.  She demanded an explanation and I gave her one, relating everything that happened.

You would think I could expect sympathy but I didn’t get it.  Instead she pointed an accusatory finger and asked, “Not Again?”