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I AM not sure I like the person I have become.

The economic climate has led to many of us to scrimp and save. That is phenomenon that has swept across Chronicle HQ.

After years of splashing out on posh coffees in the morning and fancy sandwiches in the afternoon, I decided enough was enough. Here were at least two things I could cut out in a quest to save a few pennies - but if I was going to suffer, I was darn sure my colleagues would too.

So, using my best PR techniques, I floated the idea around the horseshoe of desks I sit at that we should start a coffee co-operative, chipping in for beans, milk and, where appropriate, sugar/sweetener. I highlighted that even when buying a luxury brand, we could buy in bulk and the economy of scale would mean significant savings. Would you believe it, they bought it and, I am glad to report, it was a huge success.

What followed was the honeymoon period, as we all enjoyed regular brews while not damaging our bank balances. It even worked as a bonding exercise, with horseshoe members taking their turns to make the round and even the odd sweep of cup-cleaning going on.

But, as with most things, it didn't take long for standards to slip and as they did, I saw my temperament alter somewhat.

It all started with good old-fashioned round shirking. Eventually the coffee politics got under my skin to the point I was spending entire journeys home with Mrs J bleating on about it. And I moved on to much pettier preoccupations, the first of which was litter louts. Having set up a tray on which all the vital ingredients were laid, I began to notice the system was being abused. And one day I just lost it as I walked past and saw the silver tab that comes off the mouth of a milk bottle and an empty coffee jar.

For some reason, the red mist descended and I found myself slamming a mug down and uttering the words: "I suppose it is too much trouble to throw these items into the bin that is just two metres away?" Most worryingly, once the red mist had passed, I wasn't struck by the sense of embarrassment that should really have followed such a patronising and teacher-like remark. No, I was rather spurred on.

Even when trying to bury the hatchet and offer my colleagues an olive branch, I have been overcome by pettiness. Just this week, I spotted an immense bargain in my supermarket and snapped up a giant jar of coffee, complete with free re-fill pouch. I could barely sleep for thoughts of how happy the horseshoe would be with my purchase.

But rather than plonking it on the blue tray as a goodwill gesture, I scoured the office for an empty draw and informed all my deskmates they owed pounds 1 for their share of the caffeine bonanza.

Only when they had forked out would I reveal the location of the jar, so as to guard against the possibility of free-loading. It was at the point I was e-mailing my fourth cryptic message to disclose the granules' whereabouts that the true extent of my moronic behaviour hit home and shame at last started creeping into my mind.

I'll get round to apologising once the final horseshoe member has finally paid up.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 29, 2009
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