The idea of the single-serve coffee maker is an homage to the selfishness and loneliness of our society.
When Mark's stepmother passed away, we had a chance to get a cartridge coffee maker for free. I think it was a Keurig. It was a monster of a thing - a real counter-hog. We took a pass, as did Mark's brother. It was sold at an estate sale. We have no regrets.
Why didn't we take a "free" coffee maker that sells for $199 retail and $99 on wholesale.com? While these are useful appliances in an office situation, they are sort of selfish and lonely appliances for home use. Tellingly, Mark's stepmother lived alone for the last decade of her life, and a Keruig coffee maker undoubtedly fit in well with her lifestyle.
But for a lot of people who don't live alone, but live alone with someone else, these machines are a big hit. We see a lot of "married" couples who basically share a house together and not much else. They get up at different times, go to bed at different times. They even sleep in different bedrooms ("he snores!" she says, "she rolls over too much!" he replies). They watch different television shows - we can see the flickering blue lights coming from each end of their houses every evening on our walks. He's watching Fox News, she's watching the Home Renovation Channel.
In the morning, they cannot commit to so much as a pot of coffee, or even tea. She wants her "chai tea" and he wants his "coffee drink" and it pretty much sets the tone for the day. They go out to eat - even for breakfast - as they cannot agree on a common meal. He wants pancakes, she wants an omelette - and our society is designed to cater to your "choices" in life - which you are entitled to.
I mentioned before that many (shallow) people define themselves by the brand-names or products they choose. To them, life is nothing more than a Chinese menu of choices to make, where your personality and who you are is defined by the products you buy. When confronted with a situation where their product is not available, they leave. We've seen people walk out of very good restaurants because they only have a beer-and-wine license. Mom can't get her cocktail, Dad can't get his bourbon, so they leave for a chain restaurant than can serve a half-assed mojito, and some really, really, shitty food.
Dad wants his lite beer - not that brand, the other! And although to most gourmands, they taste like the same flavor of bad water, the brand-conscious American will do with no less. The wife wants her Pinot Grigio, he wants his lite beer. And if they can't have both, they're leaving. The idea that you could compromise once in a while is seen as giving in. Dad isn't about to drink no stinkin' wine! And Mom isn't going to swill a beer - even if it is mostly water.
This seems odd to us, as we tend to share most things. One of us gets up in the morning and makes tea or coffee - for both of us. We don't have individual cartridges to select from to make our morning beverage one-at-a-time in individual flavors. No, we actually make a commitment - as scary as that seems - to a whole damn pot.
When it comes to breakfast, one of us makes a meal for both of us. No microwaved individual pouches in selected flavors - sometimes we even split an omelette! No, really, the same piece of food, cut in half and shared! I know, gross, right?
It seems we are turning into a lonely culture, even for people who are ostensibly in a relationship or even married. So many people we know are little more than roommates, sharing a bed or a house for a few hours a day and then going off to live their own lives - even down to the meals they eat and the times they wake up and go to bed. Shared experiences are rare - and scary.
We see this all the time on old people island - a couple who can barely drive during the day, much less at night - but they have to have two cars because one is hers and the other is his. They ask us which car is Mark's and which is mine, and act flummoxed when we say neither. We select which vehicle is appropriate to the task at hand. And we look forward to the day when we have only one, because most times, we travel together. When the day comes that we sell the RV, the truck will go away, and we will be down to one car.
I guess I should not criticize - this is apparently the way others want to live. If so, more power to them. But I might suggest there is another way - a way to truly be together in every sense of the word - spending 23 out of 24 hours a day together, instead of just a dozen or less.
Because one day, you may wake up in bed with a stranger - and realize too late that you are married to them. Maybe it is a little thing, but sharing a pot of coffee might be a start. Doing things together, as difficult as it may be sometimes, forces you to interact with your other.
I wouldn't have it any other way. It is the best.
Doing things together can be fun, even if it is hard work.