Reader Stevenson was doing some grocery shopping in the heat of the afternoon, one summer’s day. Feeling parched, he located a Coca-Cola machine which appeared to him as a merciful desert oasis, or maybe it was just a mirage. Eager to quench his thirst, he hastily fed a dollar bill into the machine. He reached into the machine with the expectation of cool tasty relief, but what he retrieved from the bowels of the mechanical hell-beast was a bottle of Coke that was so f’ng hot he could barely maintain his grip. Shocked and confused, he looked around and caught a glimpse of the machine’s digital readout that mockingly read “ICE COLD COCA COLA 115F.” Stevenson’s letter, inside…
I want to share with you a little sordid tale about hot summer days, grocery shopping and a little bottled-demon that I’ve come to loathe and fear.
Monday afternoon I decided it was about time to do some grocery shopping. This went extra smoothly which, in retrospect, should have warned me that my life was about to be forever flipped upside down. As I exited the grocery store I realized that, jeez, it was hot out. Quite hot. It was nice and chill in the grocery store, but not so much outside. To top it off, I have multiple sclerosis, and heat and I do not mix. I needed something to cool me down if I was going to make the walk home.
I walk back into the lobby and, thankfully, spot a vending machine. Granted, the only options were Coca-Cola, but, really, it could have been ice-cold vegetable oil and it would have helped. While not as hydrating as, say, water, an “ice-cold” Coca-Cola would certainly have helped. After a long struggle with the dollar-slot my fate was sealed.
When a machine tells you that it has “ice-cold” Coca-Cola, well, you’re inclined to believe it. Machines, at least in my experience, aren’t quite as likely to lie as people. This machine, however, was as far beyond the human concept of deceit as we are from ape. What it disgorged was, in no imaginable way, what I wanted.
Granted, the bottle I received was indeed Coca-Cola. That much, and only that, was true. The “Ice-Cold” part? The picture of the delicious, ice-covered Coca-Cola bottle, rising triumphantly over a scarlet background? That was a lie. An enormous, steaming lie.
I was literally unable to hold the bottle due to the heat blazing out of it. My Coca-Cola bottle was the very opposite of “ice-cold,” it was “fire-hot!” I could not even hold the bottle.
Wrapping it in bags, I went to alert the customer desk in the store. I knew that the nothing would come of this (it wasn’t THEIR machine, really) but I did want to alert them. Apparently, according to the nice lady who took a brief moment away from her cell phone to talk to me, this boiling Duke of Hell had been operating like this for a bit. How long is a bit? I’ll never know, as she promptly resumed her cell phone use.
On my way out I stopped to gaze at the machine. I pressed my face close up to it. Despite being an air-conditioned area, you could FEEL waves of heat coming from its flaming, hateful heart.
Then came the moment that sealed the deal, the moment where I said, “Oh, I should write to the Consumerist.”
The digital display? “ICE COLD COCA COLA. 115 F. ICE COLD COLD COLA. 115 F.”
A summer day, a young man, and a vending machine with plans of its own. Here. In the Twilight Zone.
Thanks for listening!
You have to remember that hot and cold are relative terms. If you were, say, standing on the surface of the sun, this 115F degree soda would be quite the thirst quencher.