In the good old days – especially if one worked in a government office, there would be copious amounts of tea brought round to each floor and office by the ever cheerful tea lady – tea and the latest gossip, there was nothing that woman couldn’t find out. Officers and managers were treated like gods by everyone, but particularly the tea lady. Then eventually in the late 1970s when economies were looked for, came the communal kitchen and meeting room with the electric kettles but no tea lady. Here there could still be seriously good gossip when gaggles of colleagues gathered around the kettle. After that came coffee machines, intended by management to limit the coffee time socialising.
What came next turned out to be the best socialising device ever – the cool water dispensing machine – offering the need to get up from the desk at regular intervals, together with the benefit of delicious cold water on tap, delivered regularly every month.