The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune rained down on me today. Yes, there was no joy in Backroads. Cranky Val bad-lucked out.
Perhaps I have mentioned in passing that I enjoy a 44 oz. Diet Coke on special occasions. Like the dawning of each new day. I travel with a stable of styrofoam cups to grab a refill while I'm out and about. I frequent two establishments in downtown Backroads. No need to travel far and wide for my caffeiney fix. I used to enjoy Sonic Happy Hour on the way home from work, until Sonic made it Unhappy Hour by altering the half-price time so I could not get there, and then had the gall to go out of business (no doubt due to my lack of patronage), and the road that ran down Sonic fast-food row was closed for a new bridge.
My go-to re-filling stations are the Gas Station Chicken Store and Voice of the Village. Yeah. Those are made-up names. But anybody from these parts would know what I'm talking about. I've had an issue of late with the Gas Station Chicken Store. Last week, I happily filled my cup, dropped my exact change into the cashier's hand, and practically pranced out the door with that 44 oz. Diet Coke in my hot little hand. Mmm. I never put a straw in it there. I take it home, and use recycled straws that I wash out. It's not like a long straw is a hardship, what with the 84 pieces of silverware I have to wash each day. Once home, I plop that cup into a spare cup, thus double-cupping and keeping my elixir cool throughout the day. The Pony carries it downstairs and puts it on my desk, where it awaits my imbibing. After drinking a bit, I add ice from Frig, also carried down by The Pony, in a Bubba cup to use as needed. I sip this delightful beverage over the course of six hours or so.
On that fateful day last week, I leaned over to swill the first gulp, and IT TASTED FOUL! Foul, I tell you! Not like there was a moldy mouse in the cup. I would have noticed that. It tasted foul! Like Diet Pepsi! I can hardly type those words. I'm retching as I remember. It was all I could do to drink half of it. So put-off was I by this betrayal that I shunned the Gas Station Chicken Store. I bestowed my business on Voice of the Village. It's 27 cents cheaper there, and sometimes FREE, depending on who's behind the counter. On the down side, they don't sell chicken.
Today I decided to give the Gas Station Chicken Store another chance. I was sure it was a simple error. They have the Pepsi machine right next to the Coke machine. An honest mistake. I saw it as a good sign that my favorite parking place nearest the door was available. I skipped in merrily with my cup, almost expecting the employees to call out, "VAL!" Because sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. I sidled up to the Coke machine, clunked in several cubes of ice, and began the refilling. But this time, I grabbed a straw and stabbed it through the thin plastic skin of the lid. Ptuey! IT TASTED FOUL! Same as last week. I got in line to pay, because I am sure that in a court of law, "IT TASTED FOUL!" is not an adequate defense. The sweet older lady whose little fluffy dog was eaten by her neighbor's dog several months ago said, "Hey, where you been?" That's proper grammar for this area.
"Your Diet Coke doesn't taste right. I noticed it last week. It tastes like Diet Pepsi. So...I've been getting my soda somewhere else." Because I'm a stand-up gal, I bought two lottery tickets. Gotta give some good with the bad.
"It tastes like Diet Pepsi? I just refilled it. It said 'Coke' on the box..."
"I don't know what happened, but it doesn't taste like Diet Coke."
"Huh." Yeah. She gave the same treatment I gave that weirdo hot-dog lady in Save A Lot the other day. I don't hold it against her.
I took that tall cup of bilge-water out to T-Hoe, and made The Pony sample it. Against his wishes. It could be that I commanded all wrong. "Taste this crap! It's nasty! What do you mean you'd rather not? Take a sip. It almost makes me sick! See? Does that taste like Diet Coke? What do you mean, 'Kinda?' Don't you know the difference in Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi? Or else they've got the carbonation way out of whack."
"It MIGHT taste a little like Diet Pepsi."
"Do you think your dad might want it if I take it home?"
"No. Nobody wants that."
I poured it out the window and headed straight for Voice of the Village. Even used the same cup. It was the best decision I made all day. Voice of the Village is to Diet Coke what Jack Daniels is to fine Tennessee sippin' whiskey.