I drink too many carbonated beverages. I know this. I don’t drink them in the quantities I did years ago, but I still drink more than I should.
I don’t drink coffee, so a Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper becomes my source of caffeine. (In theory. By this point in my life I don’t think it has much effect on me. It washes down food better than water—which, when I’m at my desk during the day, I drink in ridiculous amounts—and doesn’t leave me wanting something else like if I drink orange juice.)
To delude myself into thinking I don’t have a problem, I don’t purchase sodas and bring them with me to the office; I have put money in the vending machine in the break room to get one when I’m there, but that I can pretend is a spontaneous decision, and despite the price of two cans from the machine being more than I could buy an entire six-pack at the supermarket, the financial cost is well worth the mental benefits.
One morning last week I got to work, and as per usual I turned on my computers, and while they booted up I took my water cup to the break room to fill it at the cooler. And I “spontaneously decided” to get a soda from the machine, so I put a coin in the slot.
It fell straight through, landing with a tiny ringing thud in the coin return below. So I tried again, and the same thing happened. So I tried a different coin, which did the same.
Just as I was about to give up, figuring the machine was out of order, and having my will power to resist forced upon me, I glanced closer at the little digital readout by the coin slot, which indicated how much money one had inserted, and noticed the angled lights making out what appeared to say “FrEE”. So I pushed one of the buttons next to the available selections.
A can dropped down to the bin in the lower portion of the front of the machine.
I retrieved it, thinking perhaps someone had put in money but failed to actually choose something. However, their loss was my gain, and I started back to my desk. Just as I was part way there a bunch of people passed me heading for the break room, making remarks about free soda. I turned and followed, and watched as people who would never drink soda in the morning pressed buttons with enthusiasm. Several got cans of soda that they mentioned they had no intention of drinking right away, or possibly even until the next day, as though this was some crazy fluke to be exploited while it was available.
After I went back to my desk and logged in, I found an email from the office manager announcing that all the soda machines, in all the floors’ break rooms, were dispensing them gratis now. There was no indication of it being a limited-time offer, but the hoarding instinct was kicking in for many nonetheless.
Now, it should be noted that coffee had long been provided for those so inclined, and on some floors there were also cappuccino machines, and in many of the other offices sodas had long been free as well. Really, it was merely about time.
Clearly, Fate is trying to tempt me, to see whether I can have will power that is not spurred by the fact I don’t have any change.
And my biggest question I have is this: What am I to do with the coins I accumulate if I’m not pumping them into the vending machine? Give them to the homeless I pass each day on my way to the train station?
Life was so much simpler last week. It was more expensive, but at least I had a grasp on it.