Humor Magazine

The Iced Tea Machine at Work Almost Changed My Life

By Katie Hoffman @katienotholmes

I could never complain about the array of free beverage options at my job—we’re pretty #blessed in that regard. There’s a free vending machine with cans of soda, a water dispenser, and a Flavia machine (it’s like a Keurig but not as good) with upwards of fifteen different tea and coffee options. I don’t drink coffee, but I hit up the water dispenser several times a day, and the Flavia green tea with jasmine hits the spot sometimes. When it came to beverages at the office, I was fully satisfied. I was in want of nothing! But that all changed when the new iced tea machine was added to the kitchen on my floor.

I was coming back from lunch when I noticed a coworker I have no interest in talking to was just a few steps ahead of me. Given her footwear choices and my longer strides, I knew if I continued on this trajectory an unwelcome conversation was imminent, so I ducked into the kitchen. I had only planned on hiding out in the kitchen for a few minutes to give ol’ short strides a head start, but as I passed the threshold I smelled that someone was making toast, and I knew I’d have to feign purpose.

I was somewhat relieved to see the person making toast was New Guy With A Bigger Cubicle Than Me. New Guy really isn’t new anymore, but because his cubicle is bigger than mine and he started after me, I’ll always think of me as a “new guy” simply out of spite. Someone with less seniority than me should not be entitled to an extra file cabinet.

Interacting with New Guy With A Bigger Cubicle Than Me is awkward, because I feel like we should be friends. I think we’re around the same age (just kidding, I know because I checked when he graduated college on LinkedIn), and it would just make sense. Our different jobs make work-related interaction a rare occurrence, but every time I pass by his desk I think to myself, “In another work universe, we would have been work friends…”

So Would-Be Friend New Guy With A Bigger Cubicle Than Me is at the toaster toasting, and because I don’t want him to suspect me of avoiding small talk with someone, I perhaps too enthusiastically said, “Heeeey!”

He mumbled some kind of response while I was heading to the opposite side of the counter to get a glass of water. I noticed a new piece of equipment nestled between the water and Flavia machine.

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“What’s this? We have a new machine?”

“YeaeeeAh! We wa-wa-wa-wa-wa…

A NEW TEA MACHINE?! After a year and a half of knowing my beverage options, they’re throwing an entire tea machine into the mix!? I considered trying some right then and there, but I had already committed to my water, and I didn’t want to expose my tea excitement to New Guy any more than I already had.

I went back to my desk and saw that I’d received an email about the installment of the new machine:

Subject: Summer beverages

You may have noticed that we’ve added iced tea machines for the summer. If you have any feedback, please contact Merzuk.

Upstairs: Peach sweetened tea, black sweetened tea

Downstairs: Green sweetened tea, black unsweetened tea

Our office occupies two floors of a high rise, and luckily the floor I’m on was given machine that contained green sweetened tea.

Despite my weight loss, I haven’t yet become the kind of person who overanalyzes every ingredient in what I consume. I’m mindful of calories, and I generally stay away from the artery-clogging stuff, but I don’t tally my sodium intake, stress over parabens, or avoid glutens. I’m also not remotely averse to sugar—if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that:

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But I really don’t drink sugary beverages anymore. I stopped drinking pop in 2011 when I started eating healthier, and I haven’t had a drop since. Milk, water, and the occasional cocktail(s) are my main beverages. At least I know if I’m ever incarcerated, one aspect of the transition won’t be so bad.

I admit to being skeptical about the “sweetened” aspect of the green tea, because aside from the heavenly iced green tea from Panera (the best iced green tea there is–this not up for debate), I actually enjoy my green tea plain.

Legitimate work to do and the full glass of water I’d just gotten during my kitchen hideout had temporarily distracted me from getting a cup of the tea, but later in the afternoon one of my coworkers moseyed back to her desk with a cup of it.

“It’s not bad.”

That endorsement should have been enough to keep me away from the tea.

“Oh yeah? I just wish it wasn’t sweetened.”

“Well, there’s black unsweetened!”


Don’t you positively hate it when your coworkers/people in general try too hard to accommodate you when you’re enjoying being a pain in the ass? I know there’s black unsweetened tea, I can read the post-its above the spouts, but in what world is black unsweetened tea comparable to green unsweetened tea? Drinking black unsweetened tea is like lapping up rain water from a puddle that’s collected in a dirty alley after a storm, but drinking a nice cup of unsweetened green tea is like three-way kiss with antioxidants and herbs—it’s delightful.

So, because my coworker had just gotten a glass, and because I plainly refuse to let her or anyone think I trust her judgment enough to get a glass of tea from the shiny new machine after she did it, I waited another hour before getting myself a glass.

I got back to my desk with my own cup of the new tea and lifted the plastic cup to my lips, enthralled by the whispering fizz of the frothy bubbles floating at the top. The aroma was overwhelming—it smelled like a good hair day, kittens purring, and getting a good parking spot in the first aisle you choose. I took a sip, and you could’ve convinced me I had imbibed the elixir of life. It was tart, yet satisfying, and it had been so long since I felt as thoroughly quenched as I was drinking this sweetened green tea. I downed the whole cup in less than 45 seconds.

Yet, my “sweetened” concerns were justified, and in the moments after emptying my cup, I felt my pupils dilating. The jitters that followed made me so anxious it was a struggle to sit at my desk for the remainder of the workday. Was this a productivity measure? Was this tea laced with cocaine? A set-up to taint my urine? I didn’t know what was in this tea, but suddenly summer at the office had a potential that it didn’t have before. Sure, I won’t be able to soak up vitamin D at the beach every day, but I have this sugar-loaded green tea to make up for spending the best moments of summer at my desk!

No One Stands Between Me and My Tea

By the next morning, I was jonesing for a glass of green tea immediately when I got to work. I went straight into the kitchen like one of those helpless coffee fiends chained to their trusty mug. To my dismay, someone else was in the kitchen, and it was someone I wanted to see even less than New Guy With A Bigger Cubicle. It was Sassy Woman Who’s Friendly to Some and Subtly Rude to Others. You’d think Sassy Woman and I would hit it off, but you’d be wrong. Sassy Woman is the kind of coworker who makes sweeping general statements about you that are supposed to be harmless and funny, but in reality they’re completely unnecessary and just plain annoying. For example, if you pass Sassy Woman when you’re carrying your lunch, she’ll loudly ask, “Where’s mine??” and with that simple inquiry you’re fucked. There’s no way out of the conversation without stooping to her level of soul-depleting small talk remarks, and no matter what response you give, it’s never right. Even the courtesy laugh will not save you.

On this morning, Sassy Woman decided to talk to me in a Cockney accent:

“’ello! ‘Ow ‘ar ya?”


“Ha ha ha. Good morning.”

I didn’t have time for Sassy Woman’s shenanigans—I needed my tea fix. I got a cup and started dispensing the glorious sweetened green tea, but I should’ve known Sassy Woman’s commentary wasn’t finished yet.

“You know that has sugar in it, right?”

At the office, it’s become a bit of gossip that I work out during my lunch every day, and I think my coworkers also assume I’m living this super healthy lifestyle because of my exercise regimen and the fact I typically skip the cake when we celebrate someone’s birthday. The real truth is the cake just isn’t that good.

I was torn between two reactions. On the one hand, I could stomp my foot, use my whiny teenager tone, and assure her that yyyyyeEeEeEsssss, I know or I could get reality TV angry, knock over the garbage can, and clap rudely while enunciating that she should mind her own business. I decided to say nothing.

“You could put some half and half in it. It’s really sweet.”

Confession: I actually have no idea what half and half is. I think it’s half cream, half milk, but it’s one of those things I’ve never cared enough to Google. I’ve used half and half in a few recipes, but I don’t drink coffee, so having extensive knowledge of the halves that make up half and half isn’t terribly important to me. I’d rather spend my time researching Columbine or the whereabouts of MH370. Despite the limitations of my knowledge in the half and half arena, I’m pretty confident it has no place in any beverage that’s served cold, so I just ignored Sassy Woman’s remarks and fake laughed my way out of the kitchen.

Back at my desk, I thirstily downed the tea, and the same familiar wave of saccharine electricity hit me. Unlike my usual morning cup of water that lingers next to my computer monitor for hours, I gulped this tea within minutes once again, but Sassy Woman’s words and whispers of my own common sense were giving me doubts. There’s obviously a ton of sugar in this, but maybe it only seems that way because I don’t usually drink stuff like this!

I knew that foregoing all work and getting to the bottom of this sugar content conundrum was imperative.

A Tisane Search in Vain

The teas that the machine served were labeled with post-its, but I still had noticed the brand “Curtis” appeared above each spigot. I found the Wilbur Curtis supplier fairly easily. I thought perhaps the tea was like our Flavia machine, with a part of the website dedicated to ordering teas to put in the machine, but after some extensive research, it appears that Curtis is involved only with selling tea and coffee dispensers, not developing recipes. Their website doesn’t even endorse a particular brand as many similarly situated companies would.

Thanks a lot Curtis.

Thanks a lot Curtis.

I recalled that the original email announcing the arrival of the tea machines suggested that all feedback should go to Merzuk, the employee who’s responsible for supplies and mail at the office. I decided to send him a simple email asking what brand of tea is in the dispenser, and soon I’ll be one step closer to discovering the true sugar content! If he starts asking any questions about why I want to know, I’d tell him it reminds me of some tea my late grandmother used to make me when I was yea high.

I started a new message in Outlook and tried to look Merzuk up in the company directory, but either he doesn’t have an email address, or he’s using an alias. Merzuk does have a certain alias ring to it… I know where the supply room is, I could easily call Merzuk, and I often see him delivering mail and checking the supplies on our floor, but I’m a Millennial, damn it! I don’t want to interact with someone face-to-face or over the phone! Besides, I can’t justify exhausting human interaction just to find out the sugar content of some tea.

The only way to truly decipher the amount of sugar in this tea would be to try the disgusting unsweetened black tea. Granted, it’s a different variety of tea, but at least I’d get an idea of the fundamental flavor. I went in the kitchen and poured myself a generous glass of the unsweetened black tea. It was the color of a lake with ecosystems dying within it. There was no layer of tempting fizz to play peek-a-boo with my nose. It smelled like some concoction I’d have to put together when I was five years old playing witch in my kitchen. (Some girls play house or pretend to be a teacher; I pretended I was a witch.)



After two pained sips, I knew there was no I’d be able to consume this beverage, let alone abandon the sweetened green tea in favor of this tasteless tonic. I went back to the kitchen and dumped the brown mixture down the drain and refilled my glass with the saccharine tea that had become my go-to thirst-quencher in a matter of two days.

But this second glass of green tea tasted different than the one I so enjoyed earlier. The exhilaration I felt hours ago was replaced was shame. After sampling the bland cousin of the green tea, I realized the full extent of the sweeteners used in its creation. As a result, each swig made my teeth hurt, and with every swallow of this treacherous tincture I felt myself slipping nearer and nearer to diabetes’ clutches. …I drank it all anyway.

Tea Leaves of Wrath

When I got home after work, it felt like an ordinary night. Like any other evening, I fed the dog, made dinner, and watched Cake Boss: Next Great Baker with my convalescent mother. I should have known that just as every rose has its thorn, every sweetened tea has its sour side.

The details are fuzzy, but I’m on a date with some guy I don’t know. I don’t know his name, he isn’t familiar, and I can’t put together the circumstances that brought us together, but there we were having this amazing, funny conversation. It feels wrong, but not just because I have a boyfriend. It’s something palpable in the atmosphere. It’s the kind of feeling that gives you goosebumps and inspires to look over your shoulder. Something is wrong. A sacrifice needs to be made. Suddenly, I’m in a bathroom sitting on the toilet. As if a distant echo, I’m trying to fight my way off that porcelain bowl, but I’m in too deep to do anything but commit, so I just let go…

And that’s when I woke up just as I started to wet the bed.


I know, but I wanted you to experience the full horror of this incident in the same way that I did: unprepared and frightened.

In the moments after it happened, before ripping my sheets off the bed and running an emergency load of laundry, I lay there completely stunned. I have wet the bed before as a kid, but I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened to me. Prior to this incident, I was on a significant peeing-in-the-toilet streak that spanned decades. Yet, here I was, 24 years old and pissing the bed, without inebriation or pregnancy to use an excuse. And right after an encounter that seemed like it was well on its way to dream infidelity, no less!

As the initial shame wore off, I started getting worried. Thank goodness this happened in my own bed at not in my boyfriend’s! But what if this is just the beginning? What if something is really wrong with me? I tried to recall the amount of liquids I had before bed, but they didn’t amount to anything excessive. Besides, when I’ve had too much to drink before bed, I typically wake up and go to the bathroom like a normal person. Something has to be wrong with me.

With the hum of the washing machine serving as a metronome for my terror, I hurried to WebMD to research diagnoses. After reading a lot of objective articles about the causes of adult bedwetting, I realized WebMD was not what I needed right now. In the scope of researching problems on the Internet, WebMD is the practical physician you’ve been seeing for years, but sometimes you just want to completely lose your shit and overreact, so you visit Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers is like the witch doctor that rides around selling potions that you’ll convince yourself will work. The farther down below the “Best Answer” you scroll, the crazier the remedy.

It didn’t take looking very long until my worst fears were confirmed:

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AFTER TWO DAYS OF DRINKING THE TEA, I WAS ALREADY ON MY WAY TO DIABETES!!!!! If I continued on this path, I’d require not only insulin, but a whole arsenal of new linens. No delicious tea is worth wetting the bed or developing type anything diabetes. I refuse to let one delicious beverage control my life or my insulin levels!

The following morning at work, I triumphantly bypassed the seductive tea machine and reunited with my familiar, sugarless, plain water. No tea machine is going to change my destiny.

I’m proud to say I’ve been off the tea for six days now, and I’m on a new no-bedwetting streak that I hope will carry me into my mid-80s.

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