This morning I poured myself a half cup of coffee and sat behind the computer to begin work. With my first sip of coffee, a shot of memory tore through me. I was catapulted back to one summer in the early 1990s in Rupert, Idaho. I stood inside a scale house weighing 18-wheelers before and after they unloaded potatoes into a cooled warehouse.
I could picture the wooden structure of the weigh house, the giant ground scale that the massive trucks would drive onto, the green paint (was it green?). I could clearly recall the characters who drove truck for a living, remember the nosy questions of my co-worker, the playwright boyfriend I had at the time, the dust, the monotonous recording of weights and tares, the pot of coffee blackening on the burner. It was peak harvest season and all of those potatoes had to be delivered into a cool, dark place–a race against nature that lasted weeks. Like all of the other seasonal harvest workers, I was putting in long hours and earning double wages in overtime–which amounted to quite an exciting sum for a college student.
I haven’t thought about that one-time summer job for years. What triggered it? The coffee? I’m fairly certain the Douwe Egberts coffee we brew at my work is of higher quality than what I poured into my veins during those long hours back in Idaho. Perhaps it was the artificial koffie melk creamer I had placed in the coffee. Or the forest green of the porcelain cup from which I drank? The rain? The shifting of gears of a truck rambling by outside? It must have been the perfect storm of sensory input for this memory to appear so acutely.
I wanted to take another sip of coffee, pause the world and explore this forgotten memory. But there was no pause button. Just as quickly as it came, it flittered away, and I was left only with an impression, a sensation from the past. I wish I had a journal from this time. But even if I did, I doubt I would have written my impressions of the scale house.
I have a theory why this particular sip of coffee was such a catalyst; I haven’t been drinking caffeinated coffee for close to three weeks now, and although this was not my first transgression, it was a conscious sip. Drink sparingly and consciously. You never know what might happen.