The Water Cooler

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

At work, we have this water cooler. Well, it also dispenses hot water, so I guess it’s a water heater and cooler, but I’ve never used the hot water feature, so I’m going to call it a water cooler. This is what it looks like:

The water cooler at work

See it nestled in there between the brewers and the carafes? Cute, right? It almost looks like it could be friends with R2D2. Although the color makes it look like an imperial droid. But I digress…

If you look closely, you’ll notice that there’s a little drip tray designed to keep the counter top dry (because, as we all know, people are too inept to put their mugs, cups, and water bottles in the right place at the right time). Here’s a closer look at the drip tray:

The drip tray on the water cooler at work

Wait, what’s the nasty looking muck in the drip tray?

The nasty looking muck in the drip tray on the water cooler at work

What. The. Fuck?

Allow me to take a moment to point out that these images have been ever so slightly guided in the right direction via Photoshop. Specifically, to help you see the color as it actually looked. I’m not kidding, it really was pink like that. See those bubbles? I’m pretty sure that indicates the presence of bacteria. Also, it smelled like vomit. Very strong, pungent vomit. I’m pretty sure that also indicates the presence of bacteria. Oh, and the pink slime.

You’ve been looking at this sludge for, what? About a minute now? I’ve been looking at it for almost two weeks. I fill my water bottle from the water cooler every day. Sometimes two or three times a day. This morning I decided that I had been grossed out long enough; it was time to do something about it.

Normally when there’s a mess in the break room, I don’t clean it up (although if there’s some water on the counter and I already have a paper towel in my hand, I’ll wipe it up). The only messes I clean up are the ones I make, and since I don’t often make any… Okay, I admit it. When I said that people can’t pour water properly, I was including myself in that group. But this was just too disgusting for me to let it slide. I mean, yeah, I would have liked for someone else to clean up the goo, but they probably wouldn’t have done as thorough of a job. I don’t know if the nasty bacteria would have posed a health risk, but why take the chance, right?

So I put on some rubber gloves (I know where the janitor keeps them) and cleaned the drip tray. And the grate that covers the drip tray. And the whole area on the water cooler where the drip tray sits. And the counter under and around the water cooler.

And you know what? It was gross.

It smelled like vomit and mold and coffee (people spill a surprisingly large amount of coffee, then don’t clean it up). The vomit smell was so strong that I had to step out of the break room a couple of time just to breath.

In the end, after about twenty minutes of cleaning everything, I dried off the drip tray and popped it back into place.

The clean drip tray on the water cooler at work

I can finally fill my water bottle without fear of scum in the drip tray. For now…

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1 Comment

  1. Tom

    Maybe you should have left the drip tray off before cleaning it and see what happens. Probably nothing. Someone most likely would put the tray back on and ignore the bio-hazard. I always wonder how clean those things are inside where it dispenses the water. Our 5 gallon water bottle cooler sometimes has green algae where the mouth of the bottle sits.

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