Of water bans, words, and privileged nonsense

Confession: I am a soda snob. I like it out of a fountain, in a 32-ounce styrofoam cup, with my choice of crushed or cubed ice, with the option for free flavor shots. And if at all possible, could the straws please be orange?

I gave up caffeine a while ago (all on my own) and sugary drinks long before that (dental necessity) which presents a real problem because not very many places have caffeine-free diet soda in the fountain. (Speedway and QT are two notable exceptions. I can spot either of them from miles away.)

Just a few days ago while driving 750 miles back home to Indiana, I needed (and when I say “needed” I mean “needed”) a fountain pop. My husband needed coffee. In America, if one person needs pop and another person needs coffee, they stop at a gas station, the epicenter of all good and necessary things.

So that’s what we did. At about midnight. Walked into a station fully expecting to walk back out again just moments later with the purchased necessities. Which we would have. Except for this:

No soda No Coffee

Excuse me? Is this possible? Is this allowed? Is this a bad dream?

Shocked. Speechless. Mentally paralyzed. That was me. Mostly because I really, really needed a 32-ounce fountain pop. But also because the sign’s wording was so very wrong, which particular burr rubs me quite raw under my wordsmith saddle.

(Too, I Get A Little
When All The
Is Center-Aligned
And All The
Words Are
And The Line
Breaks Are
One Talks Like

This is what I learned about me that night:

One – sometimes (or maybe always) I care about words more than the situation warrants.

Two – I’m not really a soda snob. Rather I am a rottenly spoiled child. I live in a protected bubble where, if I want a fountain pop at midnight, I expect to get a fountain pop at midnight. Period.

In a world where over 780 million people don’t have access to clean water, I exposed my nakedly narcissistic core when I stood in that gas station, mouth agape, distraught and disgusted by the inconvenience and appalling lack of regard for my pressing needs.

Meeting myself face to face, whether in a gas station at midnight or in my own soul at dawn, is sometimes just the hardest thing ever.

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