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Our hopes, fears lurk within the coffee can

The Sun-Times newsroom has packed its bags and moved to the 10th floor of what I still consider the Apparel Center but is actually now called . . . . checking . . . River North Point. 

Well, mostly they’ve packed up. A handful of us office-dwellers linger on 9, transformed into a depopulated junkscape of massed office chairs, bundled wires, stacked gray dividers and various discarded books, tape dispensers, and, I noticed with keen interest, one unopened can of Stewarts coffee.

Now Stewarts isn’t the best coffee — a bit pricier than Folgers, back in the day, but not Peet’s, not Green Mountain, nor any of the high-end coffees lined up at Whole Foods. I couldn’t recall ever tasting it. But it’s coffee, and I drink a lot of coffee. And while coffee is free at work, coffee at home costs money. So I figured, how bad could it be? If somebody didn’t want this can of coffee at the office — we get Starbucks on the 10th floor, so why would they? I could find a use for it.

I tucked the can of Stewarts into my briefcase and brought it home in triumph.

“What’s with the coffee?” my 17-year-old said, seeing an alien can on our kitchen counter. I explained how I had found it in the ruins. He did not share my enthusiasm. 

“Couldn’t someone poison it with arsenic and then seal up the can?” he wondered. 

Kids. They have such a bleak view of life. Where is the dewy optimism of youth? 

I told him the odds of that happening are slight — the sad truth is, nobody cares enough about journalists to want to kill them, at least not in this country.  

Though, now that I had brought the can home, I had my own concerns. The orange and green tartan on the metal can, it seemed light, almost faded. But I figured it was the printing process used by Stewarts. The can couldn’t have sat neglected in our office for years, could it? I gazed at the bottom, looking for numbers, a telltale “1983” maybe. Four digits: “2064.” Either a lot number or brand new and good for another 50 years. 

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