It was late afternoon at the office and I suddenly started jonesing for a Coke. I hardly ever drink Coke, but when the urge comes on it must be quenched. Being that my current workplace is extremely health-conscious, there aren't as many vending machines as you find in most offices. And the stuff the company provides for employees to drink is either protein shakes, meal replacement shakes, or purified water. You won't find anything resembling a soft drink in the refrigerator.
The producer I work with had previously tipped me off to the fact that there was a secret vending machine somewhere in the building that had soft drinks as well as high-energy drinks and bottles of Starbucks Frappuccinos inside. But when she mentioned it I wasn't having a Coke jones, so I didn't follow up on it.
One time I was walking back from the coffee machine and the receptionist asked me if I knew where the vending machine was. I wondered why someone who's supposed to know where everything is would be asking a freelancer, who usually doesn't know where anything is. I told her I thought it was nearby, and I thought I'd tag along to see where the forbidden fruit was. And to my surprise it was just on the other side of the wall of my little edit room. How convenient.
But this vending machine didn't carry any Coke, only Pepsi. I don't go for Pepsi, so the bit of information about the location of the secret vending machine was useless. That is, until the Coke jones came on and I decided to cover the entire building until I found a vending machine that carried Coke. I succeeded by finding one on the 2nd floor, and the Coke jones was on in full effect.
I reached into my wallet for some singles, but only found 20s. The machine didn't take 20s, so I went to the receptionist to see if she had change, but she didn't. So I asked some of the other edit shmoes if they had change for a 20, and one did. Minus one buck. I figured the Coke jones was worth the extra buck, so I told him he owed me one.
I made a beeline for the Coke vending machine. I attempted to feed it a dollar bill, but it wouldn't take it. I tried a different, more crispy dollar. Still not taking it. I pressed several buttons several times trying to see if I needed to do something new, but it still wouldn't take the dollar. I had no coins, so I had no other options for forcing the machine to take my buck-fifty. "Awwwww" I said, and my own voice sounded much too eerily like Homer Simpson. The Coke jones intensified. I imagined myself hurrying down to my car and screeching out of the parking garage in order to get a fix.
But I had an idea: The vending machine next to the Coke machine, which carried chips and chocolate and sweets, could act as my dollar bill changer! As I fed my second dollar in, I suddenly suspected that I'd be forced into buying a chocolate bar because it wouldn't give me coins back. But it coughed up some coins and I was back in business. My mouth watered at the renewed possibility of sucking down a cold bottle of Coca-Cola.
I turned to the Coke machine and fed in a quarter. The machine made a unexpected "clink" noise. Not a good "clink" noise like it's accepting my money, but a bad "clink" noise like my coins were going straight into the coin return slot. And they were. I grabbed more coins and tried to insert them in every conceivable angle, hoping that one way would be the answer. But there was no answer. Only an unsatisfied Coke jones.
I took the elevator back up to the 3rd floor and shuffled over to the Pepsi vending machine, hoping that some soft drink delivery stocker guy mistakenly put a Coke bottle in there. No such luck. I asked several people if they knew of any other vending machines in the building. I asked until it dawned on me that I probably looked like a crazy person to these health fanatics who drink nothing of the Cola persuasion.
The jones for Coke was not going to be satisfied with Coke. And it wouldn't be satisfied with Pepsi, but it was the closest thing. I slid my 6 quarters into the machine, pushed the buttons, and down dropped a cold bottle of Pepsi. The compartment that slides open to get the goods had the warning sign "please open bottles slowly". I attempted what I thought qualified as slowly, but apparently my judgment of slowly was impaired by the Coke jones, and the bottle ended up foaming over just enough to mandate a trip to the kitchen for paper towels. As I stood in the kitchen, I had the idea that the Pepsi might taste more like Coke if I put it in a glass with some ice. Nope. Still tasted like Pepsi. But more like a flatter version of Pepsi.
I walked back to my little edit room with my flat Pepsi in a glass with ice. After sitting there for a bit loathing the taste of Pepsi, I noticed the cap of the bottle had some numbers on the underside, like a little game where you could win a prize. And I assumed that because I kind of lost by having to drink something that wasn't real Coca-Cola, my luck might be on the upswing.
So I went to the website on the bottlecap, and saw that I could possibly win a Rock Band videogame complete with guitar, drums, keyboards, and microphone. All this for a videogame system that I don't own. But hey, I knew I was going to win. I just had to. I punched in the code and hit the "Play" button.
A video screen with four dudes who looked like washed up rockers appeared. They all moved toward me and said in unison: "The universe is indifferent to your fate. YOU LOST!" Yep. That pretty much summed it up. All I wanted was a Coke.