We all have our favorite coffee cups. Mine is my hand-thrown Ben Medansky ceramic mug I splurged on the first time I went to Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles. Or most accurately, WAS my favorite mug, until my least favorite dog knocked it off a table and broke it. Ooooo I was soooo maaaaaad, but luckily my wife replaced it with my new favorite mug, another Medansky piece that looks strikingly similar (and from one of the last batches he made before moving onto more art-forward projects). Needless to say, I keep that dumb dog far away from my new mug because I’m a responsible person that doesn’t want my things to break due to carelessness.
But say I wasn’t so careful and I let the dog break a second mug. Would I be lucky enough to receive another replacement from a benevolent spouse? Probably not. Now, say I did it 389 more times and that each mug costs $835 on average. Sounds like I probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a coffee receptacle, right? Well, that’s what the US Air Force did, who have reportedly spent over $300,000 on special coffee mugs they keep breaking. Your tax dollars hard(ly) at work.
According to USA Today, the Air Force has spent $326,785 since 2016 on buying and replacing special mugs that can “reheat liquids aboard air refueling tankers in flight.” Costing $693 in 2016, the mugs have almost doubled in price to $1,280 due to “decreased parts production” and “increased material prices.” You’d think a $1,280 mug made specifically for military use would be exceptionally rugged, and yet you’d be wronger than you ever were in your entire life. Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, spokesman for a squadron at Travis Air Force base in California—who have racked up $56,000 of that bill on their own—tells Fox News, “Unfortunately, when dropped, the handle breaks easily leading to the expenditure of several thousand dollars to replace the cups as replacement parts are not available.”
This expenditure caught the eye of Republican senator and real life Grandpa Simpson impersonator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who described it as “yet another report of wasteful spending in the Department of Defense.” Luckily Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has a solution: 3D print the handles. According to the article, creating a replacement handle via 3D printer would cost roughly $.50 each, as opposed to, you know, buying a brand new $1,280 mug.
It’s still not as cheap as my suggestion, though: keep using the damn mug without a handle. It’s not exactly integral to the primary function of a mug: holding liquid. It’s not like the handle is keeping you from dropping it anyway, so clearly it’s not an essential element of the design.
Though I have to say, after all this, I feel a little bit better about my dog now. He may be a big fat sausage that barks at everything and jumps all over the furniture and sheds and licks constantly, but at least he isn’t the US Air Force. I’m gonna go give my guy some snuggles until he annoys the shit of out me.
Top image © Nito/Adobe Stock