I had one coffee pod left, and with my bank account already overdrawn a couple of hundred dollars for inflated groceries, I wasn’t going to buy more until my next paycheck came in a couple of weeks. I immediately began telling myself the grogginess and headaches would only last a few days. It wasn’t like you had more than a cup a day, so the withdrawals shouldn’t be too bad, I told myself. I had a bunch of herbal tea I’d been meaning to drink, and what a waste just to let that dry out and have to throw it away. Think of all the people who can’t afford any warm drinks, I thought. At least you had your second hand Keurig that your friend gave you, and that nice arm chair you inherited from your dead dad to sit in while you drank your warm fluids. At least you had working electricity and a rental they weren’t kicking you out from under yet. I went on like this for what seemed days even though it’d only been 30 minutes or so. I made my last cup of coffee and began to lift it to my lips when the handle on my mug broke and it spilled across the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up with my last roll of toilet paper and made a cup of tea. I drank it in my chair and then walked to work. When I got there a half an hour later a coworker greeted me at the door. “Got a little frost in your beard?” she said. “It acts like a kind of insulation device when it gets really frozen,” I said. “I don’t know how you do it,” she said. “What do I do?” I said. “Walking to work every day for years. Don’t you live almost a couple of miles away?” she said. “A little less,” I said. “Why aren’t you a teacher yet?” she said. “I think that’s probably a question for them now,” I said. “It’s not like you don’t have the credentials,” she said. “Terminal degree. I guess no one likes an expert. They told me I was too expensive to hire anyway, given where I’d have to start on the pay scale,” I said. “That’s such a waste, you are a born teacher,” she said. She took off her hat and tousled her hair a bit. “Thanks for saying that,” I said. “Well, they’re certainly getting their money’s worth, and it’s not like I’m not making out on my end. What I lack in status, prestige, salary, family, and respect I make up for with the fact that I don’t bring my work home. That means I get to write or draw or pick my ass all night if that’s what I want to do. They should have at least offered me a position over the last twenty years though. The fact that they didn’t bothers me more than anything.” We walked to her classroom and she made a cup of tea and offered me one, and I said no thank you, because, and I didn’t tell her this, obviously, it wasn’t tea I’d really be drinking, but instead a cup full of pity, redirection and lies. It wasn’t Socrates’ hemlock, but it was a drink of something just as bad or worse. While pleasantly lavender and vanilla, it reeked in feelings full of a death without integrity, and to me, resembled something of the River of Lathe, found in Hades, which, when drunken before descending into hell, promised complete forgetfulness. She meant well, I told myself. “Have a great day,” I said. “We got this,” she said. “Yes we do,” I said. I took a sip of water from my water bottle and went back to my classroom to offload my giant backpack, then set forth down the flaming river of a hallway to take on said minions of the underworld with all my 100 eyes open, the way my father would have wanted, had he not always been drunk and blinded by the false comfort of his high station so insufficiently, his first thought upon waking was how his smartest son could be completely forgotten.