Of all the skills they teach you in journalism school, they never tell you about the truly critical one—that is, the ability to skip meals for a long, long time so that you can cover things like marathon conferences, marathon city council meetings and, well, marathons. (An auxiliary to this would be a course in how to make a meal out of 95 cents, a vending machine and half a granola bar.)
One thing, however, a reporter must have to function is coffee. It’s basically our journalistic oxygen (I’ve heard there are journalists who are tea drinkers, but I’ve never met one. Perhaps they are all in England). But sometimes that deadline won’t wait for you to travel more than five yards, and when there isn’t even the black dust on the bottom of a Folgers can to save you, you might be left with just one recourse—popping open that cold travel mug from this morning and filling it right on up with hot water, like you were soaking a tea bag. Voila, you have cofftea, a drink best served with deadlines and desperation.*
Does it taste good? Of course not. But when all you’re looking for is the warm familiarity of heated caffeine to help you push through those last couple paragraphs, it’s better than plain hot water.
And sometimes that’s just how your newspaper sausage gets made.
*A variant on this is when you dump in some Swiss Miss cocoa mix or powdered French vanilla creamer, something my colleague calls the “ghetto mocha.”