The life and times of a physics teacher (Warning: May contain sarcasm)

The Legend of the Mug That Wasn’t Mine

The following conversation is real. Names of people, place names and pets have been changed. But it actually happened in the 6th form centre at school when I walked in to the common room;

Deborah: My mug! That’s my mug! (pointing excitedly towards a mug in my hand and looking as if she were about to lunge for it)

Me: (looking down at the mug in my hand full of freshly brewed and steaming tea) Oh. Is it?

Deborah: Yes. It is. I’ve been looking for it for ages. I sent an e-mail out about it last term. I thought I was never going to see it again. (At this point she is very close to me with very narrow eyes)

Me: Oh. Right. Well, it’s got nothing to do with me. I just found it and made tea in it.

(Backstory: I did find it in the box of science mugs. But I had since been using it regularly…it had the word ‘philosopher’ on it in friendly writing and a comforting shape.)

Deborah: Well I need it back.

Me: (looking down longingly at the freshly brewed tea) Well, it’s still got my tea in it.

(At this point I’m thinking ‘how far is she going to take this? Am I going to be forced to relinquish the mug and drink out of my cupped hands?’)

Deborah: (With the craziness receding from her eyes) Ok. Well I need it back tomorrow.

Me: Ok.

Later that evening I received this e-mail;

‘You could see my clear disbelief at my mug being found this evening, as it disappeared last June and I sent out emails etc for its safe return, posters and everything!  You seemed to think that I was blaming you, which of course I wasn’t, it was just the circumstance of shouting at students to get to the event, telling them it wasn’t me on duty and knowing I was supposed to be in a meeting upstairs, and then finding my lovely mug!!  It was all far too emotional for me to handle after a stressful day!!  Sorry to seemingly blame you, I really wasn’t.  Could you please get it back to me tomorrow, thank you.  Maybe you could find all of Gemma’s mugs that have gone missing now!’

I love this. There is a real Virginia Woolf quality to the writing. One thing I noticed is the use of humour in the last line. This is the classic passive-aggressive ‘I’m joking about something I’m deadly serious about. If you could find the mugs that would be good because I’m not comfortable with knowing there are mugs missing out there’ behaviour. My point is this;


This is a question I can’t answer. I do it too. A couple of years ago I bought an E = mc2 mug from the Science Museum and it got absorbed in to the science mug box. To this very day I still get a dagger of pain when I see someone else using it but what can you do? I don’t want to ‘go Deborah’ on them. In the end I think I will just have to bide my time and steal it back when I leave (and give it a good bleaching).

Perhaps the answer lies with what’s on the mug. A member of staff here has had lots of mugs made up that say ‘This mug belongs to Geoff’. This is the wrong idea. Whenever I use Geoff’s mugs I get a buzz from knowing I’m doing something naughty. Here are some mug suggestions for the passive-aggressive in your life;

  1. This mug uses SMARTWATER® technology. I WILL hunt you down.
  2. Warning: May contain traces of brake fluid
  3. Two girls, one cup? This was the cup
  4. If you’re not studying Physics you might as well be dead
  5. My other mug’s a fist

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This entry was posted on 21/10/2012 by and tagged , , , , , .
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