I wanted a Cherry Coke. Really badly.
Most of my adult life I have eschewed soft drinks of any kind. Either that, or I’ve consumed Code Red. Or… when concerned about calories, Diet Mountain Dew with cherry drink flavoring added. I have vacillated between total abstinence and Diet Mountain Dew off and on over the last couple of decades.
Until my doctor expressed her dismay that I was adding chemicals to chemicals and drinking it. She even started holding me up as an (anonymous) example to her other patients of someone “who ought to know better” doing something profoundly stupid. And other friends started telling me just how bad the Dew was.
So I kicked Mountain Dew to the curb.
But every once in awhile, during “Happy Hour” at Sonic, I’d get a Coke Zero with cherry and vanilla flavoring added. I grew to like it. And then I started worrying about artificial sweeteners.
So a few weeks ago, when I was so very tired at work, I bought a regular, non-diet Cherry Coke. And loved it. I knew I was starting a new indulgent phase but justified it (just as I always have) by telling myself that I only drink one 20 oz. bottle a week. I’ve had one just about every week since. If I could find it. A couple of times I’ve had to settle for the inferior Wild Cherry Pepsi.
Because, you see, the Coca-Cola vending machines at work are not overfond of stocking Cherry Coke. There’s one in the building across from mine, but it’s persnickety about taking my money. Meaning it often won’t.
And on this particular day last week, when I really didn’t want to settle for Pepsi, it wouldn’t let me feed my dollars in. Wouldn’t even try to take them. I knew that the nearby machines didn’t carry Cherry Coke so I widened my search radius. I checked six additional Coke and Dasani machines, hoping to find Cherry. I searched upstairs and downstairs. No Cherry Coke.
I popped my head into an honor-system snack bar and exchanged my bills for quarters. And tried them in the special golden Cherry Coke possessing machine. And heard my quarter fall all the way down to the coin return.
Dejected, I left the building and ran into an acquaintance. I told him my tale of woe. He asked if I had tried training. When I asked if they had Cherry Coke in that machine, he said, “I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to check.”
This was an absurd statement since that particular machine was at the far end of the facility. I pointed out that I was, quite contrary to my norm, wearing heals. I had already walked enough and couldn’t walk all the way down there on a chance that I’d find Cherry Coke.
“Take my scooter,” he said. “Seriously, I’m going to be in this building for a little while. Just go ahead and take it.”
He’s crazy, I thought to myself. And I am too if I actually take him up on his offer.
And then I climbed into the scooter. It took me awhile to figure out how to put it in reverse. I thought I’d thoroughly embarrass myself by climbing back out without going anywhere. But finally, I was on the go.
I drove to the other end and parked in front of the training department. I walked past the front desk like I knew exactly what I was doing and entered the break area. I turned to face the Coca-Cola machine. The first thing I noticed was the row of Cherry Cokes! The second thing I noticed was the sign taped to the front that said “Does not work!”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
I said something to the woman at the front desk. And in her, I found a kindred spirit. A fellow lover of Cherry Coke. We shared our similar, yet opposite sorrowful tales. How mine wouldn’t take my money and how hers would take the money but not give her a drink. She affirmed my crazy scooter borrowing action by stating she would have done the same in a heartbeat.
I stopped at another building and checked some more machines. I finally resigned myself to Wild Cherry Pepsi. And felt more than just a tad ridiculous that I had expended the level of time and energy I had to hunt down a Cherry Coke.