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Can Making Tea Really Be That Fun?
I overhead a
conversation the other day where one man was saying to another that the best
part of having a cup of tea was the making it part. I assumed that this
otherwise bizarre comment was contextually exclusive, that is to say
relevant to “within the workplace”. It is an interesting point to make, and
brings up a whole discussion topic: just how much enjoyment can be decanted
from the “making” process of a cup of tea? The answer to this is clearly
going to environmentally specific, i.e. it is a more pleasant chore at work
than it would be if you had to hurry to make it during the advert break of
the latest ITV “premiere”.
As an office temp, clearly I have a lot of time on my hands during “work”
days, so I thought that it may be an astute proposition to examine the
evidence and come up with some sort of conclusion. Can it really be that the
“making” is the best part? It seems unlikely even at the worst of times, but
I shall investigate.
Within the workplace, tasks generally vary between being simply dull, to
essentially mind rotting in its unsubtle pointlessness depending on the job
at hand. Outside the workplace (and this may apply within it also), the
making of tea has a reputation as a chore we could all do without.
Why might it be fun to make tea?
Anticipation of a nice tea in a bad environment
Tea, within the workplace, can be simply presented as being a “diamond in
rough”. It can be a great oasis of hope within the
torturous desert of work. When you’ve only been at work an hour
and already your eyes won’t stop involuntarily glaring at the clock and the
thought that it will not end for hours, it can often be from the thought of
a nice cup of tea that the strength to go on can be taken.
The idea that one can have a cup of tea while all hell breaks loose around
you is an especially satisfying one. In very busy offices, tasks generally
make workers more irate and stressed out due to working conditions, so
a tea break is often essential. Care must
be taken however, as the contrast between this tea break and usual working
practice can backfire right after the break. The only way round this problem
is to reverse it: relax with a tea all day and now and again, when you feel
your blood pressure fall to dangerously low levels due to over relaxing,
attempt to start a work related conversation by “liaising” with the serious
guy who always sits opposite you. This boring and tedious conversation will
almost certainly have you longing to put the kettle on again even before
you’ve finished “touching base” and he finishes his final sentence with the
words “close of play”.
Tea making enjoyment rating – 8/10
Symbolism: Classical psychology
I’m not too sure if, in Pavlov’s seminal experiment into the classical
conditioning influencers on dogs, tea was involved in any form, but it is
doubtless applicable to the making of tea in the office environment. Pavlov
argued that, by ringing a bell, he could remind a dog of food and make the
fellow salivate at the prospect. Accordingly, the
thought of tea reminds one of better times. Applied to the
aforementioned classic experiment, the initial stimulation of seeing a
kettle boiling could conceivably invoke memories of tea on the living room
sofa. Hence, the stimulating cues involved in the making process can invoke
joyous memories from outside the workplace, though admittedly many people
would not salivate at this prospect.
Making tea enjoyment rating – 5/10
The making of a cup of tea can serve as a largely ceremonial duty, a
temporary release from the jail time of your desk. It is a common occurrence
for the average work type to begin helplessly longing for home way before
the end of the day beckons towards its compassionate conclusion. This being
the case, the motivation even to do such a chore as making a cup of tea is
considered by the work-influenced irrational mind to be a better proposition
than continuing to type, fax or snore. The making of tea can, then, be said
to be at least the “best of a bad bunch of options,”
and at best a temporary, but nonetheless merciful reprieve from the clutches
of working hell.
Making tea enjoyment rating – 7/10
Work is full of idiots. Some guy telling you to photocopy something. Some
woman telling you to stop wearing trainers. Some
gimp with an inflated opinion of themselves informing you that
you can’t use the computer’s CD tray as a drinks coaster. Relieve the pain
by taking a step back from it all and making a cup of tea. It might not last
long, but it does remove yourself from a stressful situation, and give you a
bit of time to calm down.
Making tea enjoyment rating – 6/10
Make friends by making tea!
Thanks to tea economies of scale, that is the decreasing effort needed to
make each additional cup of tea after the initial one, the tea maker is
presented with opportunities to improve their popularity within the working
environment. Making cups of tea for everyone
results in the maker becoming everyone’s new best friend. The
gain in popularity associated with this can potentially be very rewarding,
and requires very little additional effort assuming you were making one
Better still, making cups of tea for everyone else can result in them making
tea for you. Potentially, therefore, this process could yield up to 10 cups
of tea for you, in return for the initial outlay of making a cup for 10
colleagues (any more than that and we experience tea diseconomies of scale,
i.e. the problems associated with having to boil two separate kettle loads
of water). This is only theory though and you run
the risk of becoming the office “tea bitch,” if no one else is
playing the game right.
Making tea enjoyment rating – 8/10
Let’s be honest, no one really enjoys making tea do they? But what it can do
is add variety to a working situation in the ways described above. For the
lowly temp, it really would seem that the best part of making tea is that,
while your making it, it is a glorious respite from
photocopying, a mouth-watering oasis on the horizon of freshly
matched invoices. And for that it is truly merciful and masterful.